March 14, 1997 11:00 AM ET
Startup's switches to boast Gigabit speeds, QOS features
By Stacy LaVilla

  Start-up Rapid City Communications Inc. will introduce later this month a series of Gigabit Ethernet devices that offer both Gigabit speeds and traffic prioritization capabilities typically found in ATM technology, sources said.

Headlining Rapid City's FIRST (Fully Integrated Routing Switch Technology) family will be the eight-slot F1200 and the four-slot F600 chassis. Both boxes can accommodate Ethernet, Fast Ethernet and Gigabit Ethernet modules, sources said.

In addition to supporting wire-speed routing at 7 million packets per second and a 7.5G-bps backplane, the devices will support both Layer 2 switching and Layer 3 forwarding capabilities.

Slated to ship in June, the chassis models will also support IP Multicast, RSVP (Resource Reservation Protocol), RTP (Real-time Transport Protocol) and virtual LANs.

The support for both RSVP and RTP positions the devices as worthy competitors to ATM (asynchronous transfer mode), whose inherent quality-of-service capabilities allow multimedia applications to reserve sufficient bandwidth over a network connection.

RTP adds a time stamp and a header that distinguishes whether an IP packet is a video or a voice packet, while RSVP allows networking devices to reserve bandwidth for multimedia data streams.

Foundry Networks Inc., in Sunnyvale, Calif., also recently announced its own FastIron Gigabit Ethernet series, although the products, due out in May, will not initially support RSVP and RTP.

Rapid City will complement its higher-end chassis devices with a stackable F200 switch, which comes with four Gigabit Ethernet ports and option slots for additional modules, sources said.

"No one is as close to delivering something like this with that type of capability," said one source familiar with the company's plans. "They're talking about added value here, not just big bandwidth. This puts them out front in having a complete system that is available to users."

Officials at Rapid City, in Mountain View, Calif., declined to comment.

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