Cisco CRS-3 Router Looks to Deliver More Online Video

Cisco unveiled CRS-3, its new router, in a high-profile March 9 announcement. In a Webcast, Cisco executives suggested that the increasing use of online video and other high-bandwidth tools and applications would eventually make the router's 322-terabit capacity a necessary part of IT infrastructure. AT&T recently conducted a 100-gigabit test of the CRS-3 technology and claims it works as expected. The CRS-3 offers three times the capacity of Cisco's CRS-1, released in 2004, which laid the foundation for much of Cisco's network-as-platform strategy.

Cisco unveiled a new router, the CRS-3, that it claimed in the ramp-up to the March 9 announcement would "forever change the Internet." Whether or not that bold prophecy comes to fruition, the CRS-3 is nonetheless capable of handling enormous amounts of online traffic, with a Cisco executive claiming that the router with its 322-terabit-per-second capacity could enable every man, woman and child in China to make a video call simultaneously, or download every movie ever made in around four minutes.

That 322-terabit capacity effectively triples that of CRS-1, Cisco's large-scale core router launched in 2004. During a March 9 Webcast with the media and analysts, Cisco CEO John Chambers predicted that the growth in video and collaboration would ultimately drive the need for CRS-3 and its enormous capacity.

"Video is the killer app," Chambers said. "This is about video over the Internet. It is this type of load you're going to see from the average consumer, which they said would be impossible."

AT&T Labs President and CEO Keith Cambron, who participated in the Webcast, announced that AT&T had conducted a 100-gigabit network test of CRS-3 technology. "We had a 100-gigabit traffic generator, which gave us confidence we could handle that load," Cambron said. "We had 100-gigabit wavelength, and side-by-side 10-gigabyte and 40-gigabyte wavelengths."

A Cisco executive on the call suggested that tight linkages between CRS-3 and the data center/cloud, alongside the leveraging of intelligent tools such as the Network Positioning System (NPS), which allows application information to find the content and resources on a network in the most optimum way, would be essential in delivering a high level of capacity to users.

Meanwhile, analysts seemed to suggest that the increased proliferation of consumer video devices, and the accelerated adoption of high-bandwidth tools and applications by businesses, would eventually make the capacity of an Internet router like CRS-3 necessary.

"Yankee Group predicted that the driving trends in the enterprise space would be cloud computing, mobility and social media. With Cisco's statement, we are seeing that come to fruition," Zeus Kerravala, an analyst with Yankee Group, wrote in a March 9 statement. "Cisco has set a new bar for network performance, delivering the industry's first 100 GigE-ready product with a total capacity of 322 Tbps-over 10 times that of its nearest competitor. Many may think we'll never need that much bandwidth, but the enterprise future of mobile TV, streaming media, YouTube, telepresence and 3-D HD TV surely demands it."

Cisco has described itself in the past as the "plumber" of the Internet, providing the network infrastructure that allows businesses and consumers to leverage an online presence, and CRS-3 fits into its strategic roadmap as the next evolution from its CRS-1 router. Whether it actually changes the Internet forever, though, is something that remains to be seen.

Editor's Note: A correction was made to the capacity of the CRS-3.