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TOE Vendors Flock to Microsoft

There's a scramble going on among TCP/IP offload engine (TOE) vendors to secure the seat closest to Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT). Earlier this week, both Adaptec Inc. (Nasdaq: ADPT) and Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM) announced that they're working closely with the computer giant on their yet unshipped TOE technologies (see Adaptec Demos TCP/IP Offload Card and Broadcom to Deliver TCP/IP Offload).

The announcements come just two weeks after Alacritech Inc. announced that a Microsoft-sponsored test had shown that its TOE cards boosted the performance of the new Windows Server 2003 platform (see Win2003 Zooms on Alacritech).

Adaptec and Broadcom, however, are not yet boasting of any superior benchmark numbers. Neither product is even in beta testing, so the two companies are contenting themselves with announcing that their technologies easily integrate with the new Microsoft Chimney Offload Architecture.

"Our focus is on moving the standard implementation forward," says Adaptec spokesman Andrew McCarthy. "That's what gets potential OEMs and partners excited."

Some industry observers, however, question how excited people are going to get when they hear about the partnerships, since everyone else is doing the same thing. "Microsoft is going to qualify anyone that comes to the table," says Nancy Marrone, an analyst with Enterprise Storage Group Inc. "They have no intention of pushing a particular product... They've got more than 60 partners working on this right now... It's a given that all these TOE guys have to try to qualify."

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