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Intel Pushes 10-Gb Ethernet For Business

In its quest to help make the Internet's networking standard event faster, Intel Tuesday released a handful of new optical components for sampling that could help companies with their 10-Gigabit Ethernet development.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based chip making giant introduced five separate devices for building optical transceivers in data centers including the Intel LXT16713 1:1 Clock and Data Recovery (CDR), ($99); LXT16865 Transimpedance Amplifier (TIA), ($75); LXT17001 VCSEL Laser Driver, ($54); LXT12101 XAUI-to-10Gbps Serial Transceiver, ($180); and LXT17012 10.7Gbps Laser Driver, ($110). Each of the devices are currently available for sampling.

Intel said the tools were developed in response to the growth of 10-Gb Ethernet and a number of different multi-source agreements (MSA) that have emerged over the past year.

For example in LAN applications 10-Gb Ethernet could let companies expand their packet-based networks from 10 Mbps to 10,000 Mbps. In MAN and WAN applications, 10 Gigabit Ethernet has the power to let service providers create extremely high-speed, long distance Ethernet links for less money.

MSAs define electrical interfaces, physical characteristics, signaling schemes and other characteristics that let companies give blueprints to their system OEMs. Intel currently makes three MSAs for building optical transceivers for enterprise applications: XFP, XPAK/X2 and XENPAK.

"These new optical components represent another step in Intel's strategy to bring high-speed communications to the data center and to drive the convergence of computing and communications," said Joergen Bardenfleth, general manager of Intel's Optical Components Division. "Intel is the only company that provides a complete range of components for industry standard-based, enterprise optical transceivers."

For example, Intel said the CDR helps the transceiver accurately sample an optical signal on a network. The device is protocol-agnostic, operating from 9.95 to 11.1 Gbps, and also includes an internal high-sensitivity Limiting Amplifier, which post-amplifies the electrical signal. The other XFP components include the TIA, which receives electrical signals, and the Intel LXT17001 10.7Gbps Low Power VCSEL Laser Driver, which is used to transmit information in an optical network.

The new Intel LXT12101 XAUI-to-10Gbps Serial Transceiver is used in XPAK/X2 and XENPAK optical transceivers, as well as XAUI-to-10Gbps serial line card applications. This transceiver translates XAUI (an electrical interface on many optical transceivers) signals to 10Gbps signals. The LXT12101 operates at low power -- typically 1.9 Watts and maximum of 2.2 Watts. The LXT12101 also meets the jitter and eye diagram requirements for 10Gbps communications and supports Fibre Channel. An eye diagram is the display that appears on an oscilloscope to represent signal clarity in an optical transceiver.

The No. 1 chipmaker's push into networking is a good bet considering a report released earlier this year shows that the market for Ethernet switching components will reach over $1.7 billion worldwide in 2006, driven primarily by growth of Optical Ethernet.

Intel's new 10-Gb Ethernet products are also coming at a time when companies are rushing to put faster network connections in corporate desktops and servers. Earlier this year, PC manufacturers began rolling out their first products with Intel Gigabit Ethernet LAN connections built into the motherboard.

Gigabit Ethernet competes with ATM in providing networking backbones. Gigabit Ethernet is simpler, but is limited to data. ATM is more flexible and versatile, offering support for voice, video and multimedia in addition to data.