Allied Telesyn adapts to gigabit

For network administrators looking to futureproof their networks, Allied Telesyn International has unveiled a new pair of gigabit Ethernet adapters for servers or workstations.

The AT-2930 series of 10/100/1000 PCI network interface cards (NICs), with offerings for both copper and fibre networks, are targeted at specialized networks with rapidly increasing demands on price and performance, said James Mustarde, Allied Telesyn’s Bothell, Wash.-based senior director of marketing.

“Is demand enormous? No it’s not – most people don’t even come close to that sort of throughput,” Mustarde said. “However, if you’re working in a small workgroup pumping with a very high-end processor, perhaps very fast disks, doing a lot of access to database apps, or streaming video development, or videoconferencing on your PC, then there’s a very high possibility that you’re going to be exceeding the capabilities of fast Ethernet devices.”

Optimized to support both 64-bit/667MHz and 32-bit/33MHz PCI bus systems, Mustarde said the AT-2930 series has many of the same features as previous high-end NICs, such as resilience, dual redundancy, and Wacom functionalities, but at a significantly lower price.

“We’ve been criticized in the past for having an expensive gigabit adapter but we were addressing the high-end server market. Everybody now is looking for sub-US$200, US$150, US$130, street-price gigabit copper adapters – and if the market can bear those prices then products will be successful. We are addressing that market because there is increasing demand for that class of connectivity,” he said.

At US$199 for copper, and US$499 for fibre, Stan Schatt, vice-president and research director with Giga Information Group in Carlsbad, Calif., characterized the cost of these cards as “a quantum step lower than what prices historically have been for gigabit.”

“[The price drop] is coupled with some work being done by Intel to lower the cost of components for gigabit, so it’s a trend that we’re going to see continue. In fact, the chip makers have indicated that it would not be unreasonable within a year to expect prices of US$100 per port for gigabit,” he said.

Despite the price, Schatt has reservations about moving to gigabit-level connectivity at this point in time.

“The dirty little secret in the industry is that depending on the adapter that you have it’s very likely that you’re going to get well below gigabit performance anyway. (Rates) are all over the place – you can get 900Gbps throughput with some, and with others it’s a good deal lower, so performance will vary,” he said.

More significant than this, he added, is the fact that there is really very little demand for gigabit on the desktop right now.

“If you have a high performance workstation it’s one thing, but if you’ve got a PC with a PC bus you’re not even going to be able to sustain the kind of gigabit speed that’s available to you – it’s going to choke up at the bus. So we have PCs that essentially have to move to the next generation to be able to support that kind of speed at the desktop.”

Widespread demand for gigabit, full duplex connectivity is not here today, and will not be here tomorrow, but it will arrive, Mustarde said.

“If a benefit exists, it’s in futureproofing your network. Most people don’t want to go around swapping out network adapters. In many cases that was always the attraction of USB. But USB doesn’t offer the throughput that people require in certain instances. For many network managers who are looking to offer high-performance connectivity in certain parts of their network without having to worry about swapping out PCs it makes sense to install a card like this,” he said.

For more information on the products, visit the company’s Web site at