trouncing the highest-performing routers that max out at a quarter of a million packets per second at their best.

CIF

(CELLS IN FRAMES)

Developed at Cornell University, CIF allows ATM backbones to be used with Ethernet LANs. CIF utilizes the inherent quality of service in ATM all the way to the Ethernet end station by placing the ATM cell within the Ethernet frame. It differs from LAN emulation, in which Ethernet packets are encapsulated into LAN emulation packets and then converted into ATM cells. CIF is implemented by replacing the Ethernet hub with a switch or multiplexor known as a CIF Attachment Device (CIF-AD). CIF drivers are used in the client stations.

SUMMARY

It may seem like a daunting task, but understanding VLANs, frame switches, edge devices, route servers, multilayer switches, LAN emulation, MPOA, I-PNNI, IP switches and CIF are necessary to help you plan for the future. And, just when you get that under your belt, gigabit Ethernet will emerge to tantalize you with a high-speed backbone made from that good 'ole Ethernet cloth you know and love. Expected in 1997, Gigabit Ethernet could corner the market for LAN backbones, because articles like this make your head swim.

They may have a point. Will quality of service become unnecessary with a billion bits racing through the backbone? I wish I knew. I just spent the past three months researching this stuff, and let me tell you -- my brain has been racing at a billion bits per second.

In any event, good luck, and let me hear from you. I'll be studying nuclear physics in my spare time.

REFERENCES

Following are some excellent white papers on the subject. While they tout the vendor's message, they are definitely worth reading.

Managing ATM Virtual LAN Workgroups

Newbridge Networks Inc., Herndon, VA Call 800/343-3600; 703/834-3600

Cabletron's Framework for Migrating to Virtual Enterprise Networking

Cabletron Systems, Rochester, NH

Call 800/332-9401; 603/332-9400

The Transition to ATM-based Switched Internetworking

Bay Networks, Santa Clara, CA

Call 800/8BAYNET; 408/988-2400

IP Switching: The Intelligence of Routing, the Performance of Switching

Ipsilon Networks, Palo Alto, CA

Call 888/IPSILON; 415/846-4600

Unified Communications over ATM at Cornell University

Alan Freedman's Computer Desktop Encyclopedia on CD-ROM is "the" award-winning reference about the computer industry. It contains more than 9,000 entries from micro to mainframe, including drawings, photographs, charts and specs on all important concepts, products and players.

Requires Windows 3.1, 95, NT

or Mac Softwindows. CD-ROM $39.95; Floppy $29.95. Site licenses start at $150. Call 215/297-5999 (FAX 8424). Look at examples and download the demo at .

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