News Release

Cisco's Fast EtherChannel Provides Smooth Migration to Gigabit Ethernet

Adaptec, Compaq, Hewlett Packard, Intel, NetFrame, Silicon Graphics, Sun Microsystems and Xircom support Fast Ethernet bandwidth aggregation technology
Mar 18, 1997

SAN JOSE, Calif., - March 18, 1997 - Cisco Systems, Inc. todayannounced support for a new high speed bandwidth aggregation technologyfor connecting LAN switches, routers and servers together to providescaleable and resilient switched networks. Supported by industryleaders such as Adaptec, Compaq, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, NetFRAME,Silicon Graphics, Sun Microsystems and Xircom, this technology combinesparallel 100 Mbit/s Ethernet links to provide flexible, incrementalbandwidth between network devices.

Network managers will have the option to scale their networks, inincrements of 200 Mbit/s (full duplex) up through multi-gigabit speeds,and then transparently migrate to gigabit-based networks. Cisco'simplementation, called Fast EtherChannel(TM), is scaleable tomulti-gigabit speeds, and the company will provide its customers withthis option on its gigabit products once the Gigabit Ethernetspecification is complete.

"At Pixar, our network backbone is critical for making movies andbecause our network is a strategic asset, we cannot rely onpre-standard, experimental equipment," said Greg Brandeau, director ofInformation Systems at Pixar Animation Studios. "What Fast EtherChanneldoes is provide us with additional scaleable bandwidth and a reliablemigration path to a higher performance backbone."

Bandwidth Aggregation

Bandwidth aggregation is an evolutionary technology which buildsupon the established FastEthernet specification to bring higherbandwidth in steps. It uses multiple, standard, full-duplex IEEE 802.3Fast Ethernet links between pairs of switches, servers or routers andestablishes a scaleable "fat pipe" to carry higher aggregate data ratesthan any single link can accommodate. Configured as parallelpoint-to-point Fast Ethernet links, users can choose the bandwidth theyrequire up to 800 Mbit/s or more, by selecting the number of links todedicate as a Fast Ethernet trunk.

Cisco's Fast EtherChannel

"Our customers have said they want a smooth migration path togigabit Ethernet," said Jayshree Ullal, vice president of the WorkgroupBusiness Unit at Cisco Systems. "With Fast EtherChannel, Cisco isproviding them with an incremental step for safely transitioning theirnetworks up and through gigabit speeds."

Cisco's Fast EtherChannel implementation also provides load-sharingand fault tolerance which means that network traffic will beautomatically shared across the links in the event of a failure on oneof the links. Cisco has also developed a Port Aggregation Protocol(PAgP) which automates the creation and configuration of FastEtherChannel links.

Cisco will be providing Fast EtherChannel options for its Catalyst5000 family of LAN switches and for the Cisco 7500 router series. Firstproducts will become available in the second half of 1997. Consistentwith the completion of the IEEE 802.3z specification, Cisco will alsoprovide customers with high performance gigabit Ethernet solutions forboth the Catalyst 5000 family and high-end routers in 1998.

Cisco is currently working with other leading companies such asAdaptec, Compaq, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, NetFrame, Silicon Graphics, SunMicrosystems and Xircom to ensure that products which implement highbandwidth interconnections are interoperable. The attached addendumcontains various company's supporting statements and contactinformation.

Cisco Systems

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Addendum to Cisco's Fast EtherChannel Press Release

Company Statements and Contact Information

Adaptec Inc.

"Cisco's Fast EtherChannel is a powerful technology for customers whowant multi-Gigabit performance today without sacrificing their existinginfrastructure. Adaptec is already working on ways to incorporate FastEtherChannel into our NIC and Duralink Software Suite products. Wethink our customers and Cisco's customers will be pleased with the powerand flexibility Fast EtherChannel will bring to their networks." -- BobStephens, Chief Operating Officer and vice president/general manager forNetwork Products Group, Adaptec, Inc.

Press contact: Eric Brown, Adaptec Phone: 408-957-6645 Fax: 408-957-6666 Email:

Compaq Computer Corporation

Compaq, the number one server provider, leader in Fast Ethernettechnology and founding member of the Gigabit Ethernet Alliance, joinsCisco and other industry leaders in support of the proposed newstandards-based Fast EtherChannel technology. By embracing this newtechnology, Compaq will be positioned to deliver its customers acontinued migration path from Fast Ethernet to Gigabit networkingspeeds, ensuring ease-of-integration while protecting customers'investment in their current network infrastructure, thus providing thelowest cost of ownership for its users.

Press Contacts: John Sweney, Compaq Computer Corporation: Phone:281-514-0484 Email: or Dave Anderson,Miller/Shandwick Technologies: Phone: 415-962-9550

Hewlett-Packard Company

"Hewlett-Packard is committed to providing leading edge networkingtechnologies, such as Gigabit Ethernet, to our customer base. Werecognize that our customers need smooth migration paths as they embracethese new technologies, since most companies deploy high-speednetworking gradually as it is needed to support business requirements.By leveraging Cisco's Fast EtherChannel technology, we can provide ourcustomers with complete, end-to-end configurations with an eye towardGigabit Ethernet migration as standards are defined.

HP will work closely with Cisco to ensure interoperability between oursystem-based network interfaces and the Cisco Fast EtherChanneloffering. This is an exciting opportunity which aligns with our broad,strategic relationship with Cisco." --Eric Lecesne, director ofengineering, Network Computing Division, Hewlett-Packard

Press Contact: Sara Jacobsen, Hewlett-Packard Phone: 408-447-1215 Fax:408-447-4594 Email:

Intel Corporation

"Intel plans to support Fast EtherChannel in our server adapters sothat, when used with similarly equipped switches, they will provide ascaleable solution that addresses the growing bandwidth needs of today'snetworks. This additional bandwidth will complement the emergence ofGigabit Ethernet as the future backbone for our Fast Ethernetcustomers." -- Mark Christensen, vice president, Internet andCommunications Group and general manager of the Network ProductsDivision, Intel

Press Contacts: Mike Green, Intel Phone: 503-264-7550 Fax: 503-264-6223Email: or Mark Wilson, Intel Phone:503-264-1397 Fax: 503-264-6223 Email:

NetFRAME Systems Incorporated

"Cisco is meeting an important customer need by bridging the performancegap between Fast Ethernet and pre-standard Gigabit Ethernet with theintroduction of Fast Etherchannel trunking technology. Cisco'scommitment to supporting continually faster standards-based networkingsolutions parallels NetFRAME's efforts in the server market. As aresult, NetFRAME's continuously available ClusterSystem 9000 servershave the software and hardware capability today to accommodate FastEtherchannel and beyond with a triple-peer PCI-bus architecture,combined with up to 16 hot pluggable PCI card slots, that can handle thegreatest throughput in the industry." -- Steve Huey, vice president ofmarketing at NetFRAME.

Press Contact: Kurt Foeller, Dave & Bairey Communications Phone: 206-527-1773 Fax: 206-527-3109 Email:

Silicon Graphics Computer Systems

Press Contact: Diane Edises, Silicon Graphics Computer CorporationPhone: 415-933-8059 Fax: 415-960-1737 Email:

Sun Microsystems Computer Company

"Protecting current investments in networking infrastructure whilebuilding a future-proof framework that can handle the increasing amountof Internet/intranet communications and distributed applications is nolonger a daunting proposition for network managers. Sun's high-speedEthernet technologies combined with our bandwidth aggregation solutionspush the envelope on performance, providing customers with theflexibility they need to handle fluctuating network needs today andtomorrow." -- Neil Knox, vice president and general manager, Internetand Networking Products Group, Sun Microsystems Computer Company

Press Contacts: Pamela Mahoney, Sun Microsystems Computer Company Phone:415-786-4109 Fax: 415-786-8416 Email: orKristin Knudsen, Thomas Associates Phone: 415-596-2700 Fax: 415-596-2780Email:

Xircom Inc.

By supporting and adopting Fast EtherChannel from its inception, Xircomcontinues its leadership position as the mobile networking clientspecialist -- as well as its position as the mobile client of choice forCisco networks.

Xircom plans to embed Cisco's Fast EtherChannel technology throughoutits family of Fast Ethernet products, allowing mobile users to increasethe network throughput of PC Card and CardBus enabled notebooks to200Mbps and beyond by using two or more Fast Ethernet cards. Inaddition, for the first time Fast Etherchannel technology will allowconnections for mobile users to become fully managed, strategic membersof a high speed network. -- Dirk Gates, Chairman, President & CEO,Xircom, Inc.

Press Contact Peggy Garcia, Xircom Phone: 805-376-6932 Fax: 805-376-2255Email: