Cisco Preps Huge Fast Router for Summer Release

Officially dubbed the Carrier Router System-1 or CRS-1, Cisco's high-bandwidth unit boasts a maximum capacity of 92 terabytes.

Cisco Systems Inc. celebrates its 20th birthday on Tuesday with the unveiling of its most powerful and flexible router ever.

The long-awaited "Huge Fast Router," now officially dubbed Ciscos Carrier Router System-1 or CRS-1, will debut at an event in the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif. While the device, designed for carriers moving massive amounts of Internet traffic, will give Cisco a decided edge in bragging rights for routing and switching capabilities, the ability of the CRS-1 to return the company to market dominance remains in question, analysts said.

The CRS-1 boasts a maximum capacity of 92T bps, but Cisco officials said the system is about more than merely muscle.

"The numbers are important, but thats not a key concern we hear from customers," said Tony Bates, vice president and general manager of the Routing Technology Group, at Cisco in San Jose, Calif. "The future is about optimization around other key attributes. [Users] need to grow efficiently. They need to converge infrastructure. This is more about changing the way customers build networks."

Cisco officials said the CRS-1 is aimed at service providers looking to deliver high-bandwidth applications, such as video on demand, online gaming, multimedia content distribution, and real-time interactive services.

At the heart of the CRS-1 is a new, modular version of Ciscos IOS operating system. Cisco IOS XR was built specifically for the CRS-1, Bates said, though some of its advanced features may find their way into other IOS versions later. The software provides granular control of resources and separates control, data and management planes for flexible provisioning, and upgrading and maintenance without service interruption. Advanced security features can detect threats such as DDOS attacks, he added.

/zimages/7/28571.gifThe source code of Ciscos IOS operating system was recently stolen and released on the Internet. Click here to read more.

But while IOS XR should make the CRS-1 more reliable and easier to manage than previous offerings, it could take a year or more of production operation before the OS is proven stable, observers note.

"Given that Junipers highest end family of routers have been deployed in over 60 carriers worldwide, including several of the largest, we believe that Juniper has effectively captured market share at the highest end of the market since Juniper released the router two years ago," analyst Erik Suppiger of Pacific Growth Equities LLC in San Francisco said of CRS-1 in a report to investors.

/zimages/7/28571.gifTo read more analysis of the CRS-1, click here.

Capacity for the CRS-1 is dependent on configuration. The unit is designed to work either in a single-shelf configuration which offers a 16-slot chassis and a total switching capacity of 1.2T bps, or in multi-shelf mode where up to 72, 16-slot Line Card chassis and 8 Fabric Card chassis can be combined to scale performance up to 92T bps.

Each line card connection can handle 40G bps and all 1152 line cards can transmit and receive at full speed simultaneously in the multi-shelf configuration. Packet processing is accomplished with a new 40G bps Cisco Silicon Packet Processor ASIC designed especially for the CRS-1.

Combining the SPP chip and the capabilities of IOS XR will let carriers separate traffic and network operations by service, giving the providers the power to deliver converged services while consolidating multiple networks on one infrastructure, Bates said.

The CRS-1 can be managed through CLI and SNMP, or with its new XML-based Craft Web Interface, designed specifically for the device. Although it boasts twice the capacity of Junipers highest-speed offering, the CRS-1 does fill an entire 23-inch carrier rack.

"While Ciscos [CRS-1] appears to bring Cisco close to parity with Juniper in terms of a high-end offering, we believe that Cisco is late to the market and the company will need to convince carriers that Ciscos next generation wont be two years behind," Suppiger wrote.

The CRS-1 equipment is due for a more expansive demonstration at the Supercomm exhibition in Chicago next month. Currently in trials with service providers, the CRS-1 is due in July with a starting price of $450,000.

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