IronPort Systems, a business unit of Cisco, has revealed hardware extensions to its email security appliances which it claims more than doubles the performance of its previous-generation platforms.

The IronPort C-Series and IronPort X-Series email security gateways, as well as the IronPort M-Series security management appliances, offer up to a 150 percent performance improvement over previous versions and provide customers with up to five times the throughput of competitive products, the company said.

IronPort competes with Symantec, Secure Computing, Blue Coat, Websense, Trend Micro and a host of other email and messaging security providers.

Spam continues to be one of the biggest threats to email performance and network security, according to IronPort. Spam currently accounts for 78 percent of the emails sent each day, rising to 83 percent within four years, IronPort says, citing research from the Radicati Group.

IronPort says its products protect more than 200 million mailboxes, including those at 42 of the world's 100 largest companies, and eight of the 10 largest ISPs. The company's SenderBase network and threat operations center measures more than 30 percent of the world's messaging traffic, receiving over 30 billion queries per day, the company claims.

IronPort's C360 is designed for networks supporting 1,000 to 10,000 users, while the C660 is targeted at organisations with over 10,000 users. These appliances, as well as the X1060 email security and the M660 and M1060 management appliances, are available now.

Pricing was not disclosed. Previous generation C-Series appliances are priced around $2,600 (£1,496) while X-Series systems cost $75,000 (£43,180).