3Com, Via in networking chip alliance

Under the agreement, 3Com's 10/100M-bps Ethernet media access controller (MAC) will be integrated with Via's Apollo chipset South Bridge. The integration will make the chipset -- the chips that surround the main processor in a PC -- network ready.

PC OEMs will choose whether to enable the controller. The actual sales of the chipset will be through Via. 3Com has long offered network interface cards and local area network (LAN) access from a motherboard and will continue in those markets, a company spokesman said.

The companies did not disclose the financial terms of the alliance. Via and 3Com have been collaborating on technologies since 1999, and this is the first public announcement of their efforts, the 3Com spokesman said.

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