Cisco Introduces 92-Terabit Router

Cisco Systems today will formally take the wraps off its long-awaited carrier-class router, a multi-chassis architecture approach that the company claims can process up to 92 Terabits of information per

May 25, 2004

3 Min Read
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Cisco Systems today will formally take the wraps off its long-awaited carrier-class router, a multi-chassis architecture approach that the company claims can process up to 92 Terabits of information per second.

Called the CRS-1 (for Carrier Router System), Cisco's answer to high-end routers from competitors like Juniper Networks and Avici Systems contains a laundry list of technical leaps for Cisco, including a new version of Cisco's router operating system software that supports continuous operation, and a 40 Gigabit-per-second optical connection for linking backbone routers.

With a beginning price of $450,000 for a model with 1.2 Tbps capacity, Cisco's new router is clearly designed for only the largest telecom and Internet service providers, according to Tony Bates, vice president and general manager for Cisco's routing technology group. According to Bates, Cisco is already in trials with many service providers, with six already at beta deployment stage.

Sprint, MCI and Deutsche Telecom all offered praise for Cisco's CRS-1 in a press statement released today, and are expected to participate in a press event being held Tuesday in Mountain View, Calif., to introduce the CRS-1. Cisco, Bates said, expects to ship the first revenue-producing CRS-1 sometime later this summer.

"When you invest in a system like this, it's not just about buying the biggest, baddest core router," Bates said in a phone interview. "It's about picking the platform to support next-generation services."As carriers start to open their spending wallets again, there is growing competition among hardware vendors to address the need service providers have to both easily deploy new services for customers (such as streaming video or interactive services, like online gaming), and to converge those services onto a single IP-based backbone for better cost savings. Juniper's T-640 Series carrier routers, introduced in 2002, as well as Avici's TSR routers precede Cisco's CSR-1 offering, while startups like Hammerhead Systems are also targeting the renewed service-provider market.

According to Cisco's Bates, carriers considering new systems worry less about "speeds and feeds" and more about "creating a system that will scale without impacting services." Those concerns, he said, drove the creation of the new operating system software, called IOS XR, which Bates said will allow for system maintenance, upgrades and operations without interruption, a capability not supported in current Cisco routers.

"There's no need to reboot or take things down," Bates said. The IOS XR was also built to allow multiple CRS-1 chassis, or "shelves," to be managed as a single routing unit, a key to providing the system's huge capacity (it supports up to 1,152 40-Gbps line-card slots, according to Cisco) and throughput.

On the back end, Cisco claims to have the industry's first OC-768 interface, a serial connection that Bates said will allow for direct optical 40 Gbps connections between routers on the Internet backbone. The CRS-1 will also introduce a graphical management tool, as well as a "flexible" internal architecture that Bates said allows for the "decoupling" of interface cards from the back-end network services. Such flexibility gives service providers a way to better converge client services onto a single backbone for cost savings.

Despite its market lead in overall router sales and the networking industry as a whole, Cisco still has some doubters in the top echelons of networking. While Bates admits that overcoming perceptions of instability among service providers is "top of the mind" at Cisco, he also said the company doesn't get credit it deserves for being used in large, busy networks."We've got routers today at Telecom Italia that run all the voice [traffic] for Italy, some 17 billion minutes a year," Bates said, without any major disruptions or security issues. "We need to prove to [service providers] that we can support their next level of convergence."

Cisco, Bates noted, has overcome its doubters before in the high-end routing market.

"I was around when we introduced the 12000 [Cisco's current high-end router line] and it was predicted we'd only sell 10 or 15 of them," Bates said. "Now, 26,000 units and $5 billion in revenue later, it's a different story."

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