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Optical/IP

Alcatel ATM Switch Steps Up

Alcatel SA (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA) today unveiled the next generation of its 7670 Routing Switch Platform (RSP) (see Alcatel Updates Platform, Wins Contract).

The announcement represents a second example of a core ATM (asynchronous transfer mode) switch being transformed into a monster multiservice product. The first example was unveiled almost a year ago when Marconi PLC (Nasdaq/London: MONI) announced its 480 Gbit/s BXR-48000 (see Marconi Unveils Big Switch/Router).

Until the present downturn, it was thought that ATM core switches like the 7670 would be replaced after a brief transition period by optical switches and routers. Now, in light of the current economic downturn, that transition period has become protracted. Carriers are under a mandate to roll out new IP-based services without changing their present infrastructure.

As a result, products are needed that can work both ends of a carrier's present data networking setup -- the connection-oriented frame relay and ATM services, and the connectionless IP and routing facilities.

This is no easy task, given the slew of protocols and connectivity requirements carriers now have in one box that's suited for the network core. "A lot of it has to do with matching multiprotocol capabilities with carrier class scalability," says Jim Lawrence, program director at Stratecast Partners.

In its latest release, Alcatel has attempted to address the problem on several fronts. First, it has added significant capacity and interfaces to the 7670. Formerly, the box was a stand-alone unit that supported up to 50 Gbit/s across multiple interface cards. Now, Alcatel has made the 7670 into a multishelf product, putting the switch fabric into its own box that supports up to 450 Gbit/s capacity, and adding interfaces in separate shelves.

According to Alcatel, the multishelf design is the most important feature of the new 7670, because it's the only way carriers can hope to get the combination of capacity and interfaces they require.

Among the interfaces Alcatel is now supporting are packet-over-Sonet (POS) OC48 (2.5 Gbit/s), gigabit Ethernet, and multiport DS3 (45 Mbit/s).

The 7670 also supports MPLS, and Alcatel claims it has been through a battery of interoperability tests at the Advanced Internet Lab at George Mason University. MPLS, they maintain, will be key to unifying the management of multiservice networks in which a range of protocols are used.

The new design also gives the 7670 features beyond the ATM core. "We support multiple services at the network edge," says Jim Guillet, VP of Alcatel's switched data networks group. Customers can make the most of what they have installed, he maintains, while extending their switching fabrics through the use of the add-on modules the 7670 now includes.

The Alcatel 7670 is expected to ship during the first quarter of 2002, spokespeople say.

On the downside, competitors point to the multishelf solution as bulky and costly to maintain. Équipe Communications Corp., insists that its 3200 unit supports more capabilities in a single 200-Gbit/s chassis than the 7670 supports in several racks.

Of course, this must be taken as one competitor's viewpoint. Still, the 7670 lacks support for OC192, although it does handle four OC48 cards together. The switch also doesn't support grooming of STS1 (51.8 Mbit/s) channels within Sonet links -- a much-needed function for many carriers. Équipe says its supports both features now.

Still, Alcatel deserves kudos, analysts say. The problem that Alcatel's addressing -- combining traditional ATM and circuit switching with packet support on a massive scale -- has proven cumbersome for more than one vendor.

Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU), for instance, recently announced the discontinuation of its MSC 25000 core ATM switch, which competed with Alcatel's 7670 (see Lucent Bags High-End Switch). In bagging the switch, Lucent cited the need for a new architecture that supported MPLS (multiprotocol label switching) and IP in a single unit. Lucent reportedly is scrapping its older design for an entirely new product, but little information is available beyond this.

Other competitors in this space include Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), with the MGX 8850. "Cisco's product is great, but customers say it's too small," says Jim Lawrence.

One of the closest competitors to the 7670 is the Passport 15000 from Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT). Industry sources say this box supports many of the edge networking and aggregation capabilities Alcatel is touting for the new 7670. Still, it's smaller. A follow-on Passport 20000 is due later this year or early next and will offer a range of new features that will no doubt give competitors another point of comparison, for better or worse.

— Mary Jander, Senior Editor, Light Reading
http://www.lightreading.com
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Confucius 12/4/2012 | 7:43:13 PM
re: Alcatel ATM Switch Steps Up According to the press release, "In only its first year of availability more than 350 systems have already been installed worldwide."

FWIW, but I don't think anybody "betas" 350 units.
Belzebutt 12/4/2012 | 7:43:13 PM
re: Alcatel ATM Switch Steps Up Alcatel SA today unveiled the next generation of its 7670 Routing Switch Platform

When is this actually shipping, in non-beta form?
skeptic 12/4/2012 | 7:43:12 PM
re: Alcatel ATM Switch Steps Up
I think this is just an announcement of an
upgrade to an existing (possibly newbridge?)
product. I dont think this thing is new or
in "beta" in the classical sense.



Mary Jander 12/4/2012 | 7:43:11 PM
re: Alcatel ATM Switch Steps Up Alcatel says the latest version of the 7670 will ship during the first quarter 2002. I've added this to the story.
Belzebutt 12/4/2012 | 7:43:10 PM
re: Alcatel ATM Switch Steps Up I think this is just an announcement of an
upgrade to an existing (possibly newbridge?)


Yes, is this a new version of the 36170?
flanker 12/4/2012 | 7:43:09 PM
re: Alcatel ATM Switch Steps Up You allude in the first two paragraphs to a "switch router" and a "router switch". I dont see any IP routing functionality in this product.

It's a scalar aggregation box, and Marconi isn't the only other player to have deployed. Fujitsu and NEC both make aggregation boxes with multi shelf-functionality, and disaggregated switching intelligence.

Fujtsu's product scales from 10 Gbps to a DS 1, with GigE cards coming out early next year. The Alcatel product is nothing new, althought the story here is that the major vendors are waking up to multi service platforms. Where does this leave the two dozen or so pre IPO firms doing the same thing?

With Lucent, Nortel, Marconi, Alcatel, Fujitsu and NEc, not to mention Siemens, either shipping or coming out with multi service platform products, I'd your average VC backed jobbbee is up the proverbial crik with without a paddle, ay?










duedilig 12/4/2012 | 7:43:09 PM
re: Alcatel ATM Switch Steps Up Test
RouteThis 12/4/2012 | 7:43:08 PM
re: Alcatel ATM Switch Steps Up The Alcatel 7670 switching fabric is based on the IBM Prizma chipset (just like the Nortel Passport 15000). It was designed with upgrading in mind. So....the peripheral shelf version of the 7670 will have the "50Gb" fabrics and the core boxes will have the "450Gb" fabrics (a word on real/useable capacity in a moment).

The Edge boxes uplink to the core boxes via 2 proprietary protocol 14 Gb trunks.

In reality, these are not really 50Gb or 450Gb boxes. Based on useable interfaces the peripheral shelf box only has a useable capacity of 35 Gb (14 slots x OC48 [2.5Gb]). The core boxes have a capacity of 310 Gb (31 x OC192[10Gb]) and even for the 310 - I'd bet my teeth that they'll never be able to do full bore, non-blocking line rate on those puppies. Plus - if on of those proprietary redundant uplinks to the core dies it kills half the capacity of the switch.

Taking a step back even further - this has not shipped yet - and no vendor has shipped a real Generally Available product of this size to any customer yet. So it looks like the race is on between Alcatel, Marconi and Equipe.

Wavesmith claims to be able to aggregate their edge boxes back to a 390 Gb core - and they have much better multiservice-edge boxes/densities/functionality than any of the aforementioned vendors (including Nortel PP 15k & Cisco MGX8850 as well). Then there's Gotham, but I don't know how far along they are at this point...

....Lightreading - you guys should do a State of the Union type of article for the Wavesmith's and Gotham's of the world....and tell us little folk how far along they are - what carrier labs they're in and how they stack up to the larger vendors.
wonderfull 12/4/2012 | 7:43:07 PM
re: Alcatel ATM Switch Steps Up The 7670 is the Alcatel product # for
the Newbridge 670 RSP. This announcement
is for a high capacity product extension.

Girish
broadbandboy 12/4/2012 | 7:43:06 PM
re: Alcatel ATM Switch Steps Up RouteThis: "Based on useable interfaces the peripheral shelf box only has a useable capacity of 35 Gb (14 slots x OC48 [2.5Gb]). The core boxes have a capacity of 310 Gb (31 x OC192[10Gb]) and even for the 310 - I'd bet my teeth that they'll never be able to do full bore, non-blocking line rate on those puppies. Plus - if on of those proprietary redundant uplinks to the core dies it kills half the capacity of the switch."

RT - You know too much! I could not figure all that out from the press release, so I think you must be a pro.

If you have access to the real deal, who would you say packs more punch, Alcatel or Equipe? It looks like the same bandwidth for both, about 300GB. So whats the dif?

BBboy
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