California Educational Data Processing Association
The DataBus - Vol. 38, No. 1
December, 1997-January, 1998
3Com Corporation Announces CoreBuilder™ 9000 Enterprise Switch

SANTA CLARA, Calif., November 17, 1997 -- Global networking leader 3Com Corporation (Nasdaq: COMS) today defined a new class of switch in the networking industry with the announcement of its CoreBuilder 9000 system. This innovative, multi-layer switch offers unprecedented levels of network capacity -- up to four times that of competing products -- with the control and the high system availability required for the core of enterprise networks. The new system, following the recent introduction of the CoreBuilder 3500 Layer 3 high-function switch, further strengthens 3Com's position as the technology leader of switching systems for the network core.

Specifically, the CoreBuilder 9000 platform defines a new class of high-end switching systems for ATM and Gigabit Ethernet high-capacity backbone networks. In addition, because higher-speed desktop computers are increasing network bandwidth demands, customers can plan to scale their networks with confidence to effectively support next-generation applications.

The CoreBuilder 9000 system's flexible architecture supports both cell-based ATM and packet-based Gigabit Ethernet switching in a single platform and can be configured to support a variety of technologies to meet customers' diverse high-speed switching requirements. By aggregating 3Com CoreBuilder, AccessBuilder® and SuperStack® solutions into a single system, the new CoreBuilder 9000 leverages customers' investments and provides unprecedented levels of campus LAN performance migration.

"Network managers are concerned about protecting their core switching investments in a time of rapid evolution and change; therefore, flexibility and choice are necessary requirements for the network core to remain intact, while also accommodating new application and network technology demands," said John McConnell, president of McConnell Consulting, Inc. located in Boulder, Colorado. "3Com's CoreBuilder 9000 switch will be well received by customers since it offers multiprotocol routing and switching with support for both cell and frame networking technologies."

"Today's announcement raises the bar for switching in the network industry with 'first in its class' breakthrough technology designed for customers' migration to fully-switched networks that will support next-generation applications," said Ron Sege, senior vice president of 3Com's Enterprise Systems Division. "The new system enhances 3Com's industry-leading family of CoreBuilder high-function switches and provides the superior technology that will be required for the enterprise network core."

Unprecedented Levels of Network Capacity and System Redundancy

With up to four times the switching capacity of competing products, both in performance and network port density, the CoreBuilder 9000 switch provides forwarding rates greater than 100 million packets per second. 3Com's recently announced FIRE (Flexible Intelligent Routing Engine) Layer 3 switching wire-speed routing technology enables the CoreBuilder 9000 switch to scale up to 56 million packets per second. It supports up to 112 OC-12 ATM ports or up to 126 Gigabit Ethernet ports. Future plans are to scale to OC-48 ATM. The fully fault tolerant system is designed for high availability with complete redundancy and no single point of failure.

"At the core of today's corporate ATM backbone networks, nothing but 100 percent up time is acceptable," said Dan Gisi, manager of enterprise communications architecture at Adobe Systems. "The new 3Com CoreBuilder 9000 switch has the OC-12 port density required in the core of our new network design and the built-in reliability that it requires."

TranscendWare Software: Network Control for the Enterprise Network Core

The CoreBuilder 9000 system enhances 3Com's leadership position for providing the ultimate network control technologies that customers require, such as bandwidth management, QoS/CoS and network management via its TranscendWare networking software.

The bandwidth management features include support for Layer 3 switching, Fast IP and MPOA cut-through routing techniques, multicast/broadcast controls, traffic management and congestion control features which enable efficient network bandwidth utilization. Advanced QoS/CoS features available in the system enable customers to support mission critical or delay sensitive applications, such as voice and video. The system offers distributed management agents that work in concert with 3Com's Transcend® Enterprise Manager software, featuring applications such as configuration and policy-based management, status monitoring and reporting.

"The CoreBuilder 9000 switch fully complements our strong sales and service partners that serve some of the world's largest enterprise network customers," added Alan Kessler, senior vice president of 3Com's Enterprise Systems Global Field Organization. "We have accelerated our investment in 3Com's sales and service organization and continue to partner with the industry's leading network integrators, which deliver the best results to customers."

3Com Third Generation Layer 3 Switching Architecture

FIRE (Flexible Intelligent Routing Engine) is a fully-programmable Layer 3 switching, wire-speed routing ASIC technology, which is the heart of 3Com's third-generation Layer 3 switching architecture. The CoreBuilder™ 3500 Layer 3 switch, the first product to leverage the FIRE architecture, leads the industry by providing ten times the performance for as low as one-tenth the cost of a traditional backbone router. networking analyst at Dataquest.

The FIRE ASIC technology provides support for extensive Layer 2 and Layer 3 switching, multiprotocol routing and policy-based network services, all at wire speed. FIRE implements the network control element of 3Com's TranscendWare™ framework: software embedded in network devices that controls traffic flow, optimizes network performance, automates administration tasks and enforces network policies.

"The FIRE architecture's advanced functionality not only gives customers unprecedented network capacity and control, but also provides expansion capabilities that enable customers to meet their business requirements now and into the next millennium without compromising existing network investments," said David Tolwinski, vice president and general manager of 3Com's Switching Systems Division. "This new architecture capitalizes on 3Com's unmatched experience with Layer 3 switch design, based on our installed base of more than 600,000 Layer 3-enabled switch ports."

FIRE Technology Available in CoreBuilder 3500 Switch

The CoreBuilder 3500 switch raises the bar for Layer 3 switching solutions by combining leading price/performance with the robust network features required for corporate enterprise networks. It provides non-blocking, wire-speed, multiprotocol routing and switching on all ports, eliminating the performance bottleneck caused by legacy LAN routers, while also preserving existing network wiring and subnet topology. In addition, because customers' networks require seamless integration of multiple technologies, the switchs modular design supports Ethernet, Fast Ethernet, Gigabit Ethernet, FDDI and ATM, as well as routing of IP, IP Multicast, IPX and AppleTalk protocols. As with all 3Com systems, the CoreBuilder 3500 switch is managed within 3Com's comprehensive Transcend Network Management solution. Advanced network management features such as full, embedded RMON, RMON2 and Roving Analysis Port provide users with the functionality required to monitor and control the CoreBuilder 3500 switch.

"We tested the CoreBuilder 3500 switch in a configuration of 24 Full Duplex Fast Ethernet ports. The CoreBuilder 3500 switch performed full wire-speed routing of both IP and IPX achieving the maximum throughput possible with no packet loss," said Kevin Tolly, president of The Tolly Group.

"The CoreBuilder 3500 switch will provide us with a high-speed collapsed backbone to meet our needs going into the next century and will enable us to soon deploy Gigabit Ethernet downlinks to 3Com's SuperStack® II desktop switches for a truly scalable, high-performance architecture," said Bob Bonham, manager of network architecture and management at SAS Institute of Technology. "The switch's unique embedded policy management will enable us to utilize multicasting, thus minimizing broadcast traffic and conserving bandwidth. In addition, its network diagnostic and RMON and RMON2 management capabilities will help us optimize network communications."


The ATM system will be available in April 1998. The Gigabit Ethernet system will be available in June of 1998. Details for additional Ethernet (Layer 2 and Layer 3), FDDI and WAN access and multi-service modules will be announced at a later date.
These press releases were submitted by Laura Thurman of 3Com Corporate Communications. John Perez is a K-12 representative for 3Com Corporation. He can be reached by telephone at (310)348-8110, by fax at (310)-348-8167 or by email at [email protected]

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