Network Instruments last week announced the availability of its Full Duplex Probe Appliance, which the company says will passively monitor and maintain 10\/100 full-duplex links at wire-speed.The 1U rack-mountable system uses a 100M-byte full-duplex test access point (TAP) to ensure complete and passive analysis, the company says. Network Instruments says with the probe, IT administrators can "eliminate their dependence on a SPAN or mirror port, reduce switch load and ensure data integrity."According to Paul Georgeson, senior hardware engineer for Network Instruments, the new probe addresses three top drawbacks of using a SPAN or mirror port.In a statement, Georgeson says: "First, the port has to aggregate both directions of the conversation into a single stream to port to the analyzer. If total utilization exceeds 50% or 100M bytes, packets can disappear inside the switch."Second, the SPAN port puts an additional and unnecessary load on the switch. Third, if the switch becomes too busy with its primary tasks, the analyzer port receives a lower priority and delivers packets incorrectly. In this case, what looks to be a problem, may not even be an issue. With the Network Instruments Full Duplex Probe, data integrity and load is never a concern."The Full Duplex Probe Appliance works with the company's Observer software console to offer detailed views of full duplex links, with more than 30 real-time statistics, packet captures, and a complete Expert Analysis system with over 500 Expert events. Real-time statistics include total and individual link bandwidth utilization, top talkers, and virtual LAN analysis. The appliance also decodes more than 500 protocols.This hardware unit contains the new Network Instruments Advanced Expert Probe software to perform packet captures and Expert Analysis data processing at the probe. By incorporating the 100M-byte Full Duplex TAP, Network Instruments says IT administrators can insert and remove the appliance without any disruption to the network.Pricing for the Full Duplex Probe Appliance begins at $4,995 and includes a 100M-byte full duplex TAP for passive analysis.