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Alcatel Ups 10GigE Density

(NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA) is upping the ante with its latest Ethernet LAN switch, but the company won't be challenging the largest of the Ethernet boxes just yet.

The company today announced the OmniSwitch 9000 series switches replacing the OmniCore 8000 line as Alcatel's biggest core-LAN boxes. (See Alcatel Intros OmniSwitch.) The systems's maximum capacity will reach 48 ports of 10-Gbit/s Ethernet or 192 ports of Gigabit Ethernet.

That's less than the 64 ports packed in the Foundry Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: FDRY) BigIron RX-16 and well behind the 244 ports that can be crammed into Force10 Networks Inc.'s E1200 line. Both companies trotted out product launches this year to increase 10-Gbit/s density. (See Foundry Flashes New Hardware and Force10 Gets Dense.)

But Alcatel officials note they aren't shooting for Force10 kinds of numbers. The OmniSwitch series -- descended from the works of Packet Engines, acquired in 1999 -- targets the normal LAN environment, not the supercomputer kinds of installations Force10 chases. (Not every Packet Engines product has enjoyed this longevity; to open old wounds, see Alcatel's Packet Engines Break Down, Alcatel Settles with Daines, and Bernard Daines.)

"We're more directly aligned with Foundry and BigIron" than with Force10's biggest machines, says Guillaume Ivaldi, Alcatel's design manager for the 9000 line.

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