AlcaLu Readies 100GigE Cards
The company is announcing two 100-Gbit/s Ethernet cards today -- one with a single 100 Gbit/s interface, and another with 10 ports of 10 Gbit/s. Both cards are set to begin commercial shipping in mid-2010, with some customers getting demonstrations late this year.
Telus Corp. (NYSE: TU; Toronto: T) might be one of those; AlcaLu is quoting the carrier as a customer for the new cards.
Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) announced a 100-Gbit/s Ethernet interface for the T1600 router last month, saying the cards would go into carrier trials late this year. Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) hasn't yet announced a 100-Gbit/s card as a product, although it's tested a 100-Gbit/s interface on the CRS-1 core router. (See Juniper Claims 100-Gig First and Comcast, Cisco Test 100-Gig.)
But AlcaLu says it's got something different, because its 7750 Service Router is often used in metro and edge networks rather than in the core. Likewise, the 7450 Ethernet Service Switch -- which is also getting the 100-Gbit/s Ethernet cards -- is a metro aggregation play. In both cases, the routers are doing more work than they would in the core, because they're doing tasks like prioritizing traffic flows that come in from the core network, and matching traffic to specific subscribers.
"The edge is where all the heavy lifting happens. The core is really just becoming transport," says Lindsay Newell, AlcaLu vice president of marketing. In addition, the edge is where new services get generated: "The core is a cost center, and the edge is a revenue center."
"That's pretty amazing, if they can run all the services through at 100 Gbit/s," says Michael Howard, president of Infonetics Research Inc. "It just means the chipset was pretty capable when they designed it."
In fact, both cards will use the same FP2 packet processing chipset that went onto the 50-Gbit/s cards AlcaLu announced last year, Newell says. (See AlcaLu Beefs Up Its Routers.)
And the rest of the 7750 and 7450 was already ready for 100-Gbit/s interfaces, too, Newell says. The switch fabric, for instance, has a capacity of 1 Tbit/s, enough to support a 100-Gbit/s card in the largest 7750's 10 available slots. Among the items AlcaLu is left waiting for are 100-Gbit/s optics in volume.
The edge might be where the hard work is happening, but AlcaLu is willing to talk about core networks, too. In fact, the company sees the 100-Gbit/s age as "one dimension in making us a much more credible and serious competitor in the core," Newell says.
The 7750 can already fit in the core, for smaller networks, but AlcaLu has tended to be coy about describing the box as a core router, competing with the likes of Cisco's CRS-1 and in the cores of big networks.
"I asked that question a year ago, when they announced the FP2," Howard says. "I asked: 'This is pretty powerful stuff, so why don't you have a core router?' And at the time, Basil [Alwan, president of AlcaLu's IP division] said there are certain requirements you need for a core router. He wouldn't say what they were."
Maybe a 100-Gbit/s card was one of them, because AlcaLu is saying the new cards give it the density to outdo Juniper and Cisco -- part of the "serious competitor" status Newell mentioned. The 7750, filling one third of a standard telecom rack, will carry 100 ports of 10 Gbit/s Ethernet without oversubscription, compared with (by AlcaLu's reckoning) 64 for the half-rack Juniper T1600 and 64 for the full-rack-sized Cisco CRS-1.
— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading