PC Card and dual-function NICs emerge from 10/100 product mix

PC Card and dual-function NICs emerge from 10/100 product mix

By J.B. Miles


Two fascinating new trends have evolved since GCN/Shopper last looked at 10/100 network interface cards less than a year ago.'' Leading NIC manufacturers are rapidly introducing PC Card NICs into their families of 10/100 products. And a relatively new category of dual-speed, dual-function products that add 56-Kbps modem functionality to the mix is beginning to emerge.

PC Card 10/100 NICs such as Bay Networks Inc.'s NetGear FA410TX, D-Link Systems Inc.'s DFE-650TX, Danpex Corp.'s FE-6430TX, IBM Corp.'s 10/100 EtherJet CardBus Adapter, Kingston Technology Co.'s FastEtherRX CardBus PC Card and others are all designed for mobile computing.

Often featuring hot-swap technology, the cards enable users to plug into a Fast Ethernet network just by popping a PC Card into their notebook computers and plugging into the network via an RJ-45 connector.

But be aware that two standards for PC Card technology now exist. Older cards using the Personal Computer Memory Card International Association standards use a 16-bit interface that operates at 8-MHz ISA bus speeds using asynchronous protocols. Newer CardBus technology provides a 32-bit multiplexed data path that operates at PCI bus speeds of 33 to provide a peak bandwidth of 123 Mbps.

For legacy 16-bit notebook computers, use 16-bit 10/100 PC Cards to connect with a Fast Ethernet network. But if you have Pentium II notebooks with PCI buses, pay a little more for 10/100 CardBus cards. They operate six times faster than 16-bit cards and five times faster than standard 100-Mbps PC cards. CardBus PC cards also operate at only 3.3 volts.

Still confused? Check your notebook to see if it is a Pentium II unit with a PCI bus and then check with your NIC vendor to see if the card is a true 32-bit CardBus PC Card. Intel Corp. offers both the 32-bit CardBus II and the 16-bit PC Card.

On the road again

The best part for serious road warriors may be that for little more than the cost of a PC Card 10/100 NIC, you can buy a unit bundled with a 56-Kbps modem.

D-Link's PCMCIA DMF-560TX/TXD units each come with a built-in V.90 modem and an RJ-11 telephone jack for $199. Linksys' EtherFast 10/100+ 56K Modem PC Card is another well-priced unit at $188. IBM's 10/100 EtherJet CardBus Adapter with a 56-Kbps modem is priced at $400.

Intel sells both 32-bit CardBus and 16-bit PC Card NICs with 56-Kbps modems for $389 and $349, respectively. At $289, Xircom Inc.'s CardBus Ethernet 10/100+ Modem 56 might represent the best buy in dual-speed, dual-function 10/100 NICs.

Featured

  • Records management: Look beyond the NARA mandates

    Pandemic tests electronic records management

    Between the rush enable more virtual collaboration, stalled digitization of archived records and managing records that reside in datasets, records management executives are sorting through new challenges.

  • boy learning at home (Travelpixs/Shutterstock.com)

    Tucson’s community wireless bridges the digital divide

    The city built cell sites at government-owned facilities such as fire departments and libraries that were already connected to Tucson’s existing fiber backbone.

Stay Connected