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Optical/IP

Cisco's Got a Terabit Router Too

Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) is preparing to launch upgrades to its core routers to counter the recent announcements by Juniper Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: JNPR).

The two new products are called the GSR 12810 and the GSR 12816, and they will be built on the existing GSR 12000 architecture and have maximum respective capacities of 800 Gbit/s and 1.28 Tbit/s. They are slated to ship to customers in the second half of this year.

Whether Cisco's new products mark true terabit routers will, of course, be a matter for debate -- the capacity of each box is calculated by adding up the switching capacity and then doubling that number for bi-directional traffic. But they appear to match the capacity of Juniper's new lineup, which is measured in the same terms.

The news emphasizes the different approaches the two core router players are taking. With its recently announced T640, Juniper moved to a multi-chassis architecture that can interconnect several routers using an optical backplane (see Juniper Goes Terabit With the T640). Cisco, meanwhile, is taking a more incremental approach, choosing to upgrade the capacity of its existing architecture before it moves on to multi-chassis designs. Unlike the T640, the new GSR 128XX switches won’t be designed to scale to a multi-chassis configuration.

"This is an intermediate step for Cisco," says a spokesperson at one major service provider, who didn’t want to be named. "The current architecture can’t scale to multiple boxes, so they’ve decided to go with an upgrade until they can announce the scaleable solution.”

While the GSR 128XX products have not been officially announced to the public, Cisco outlined the product strategy in a presentation it posted on its Website from a meeting in Amsterdam this past February. The presentation is still available at http://www.cisco.com/global/NL/events/ngr/pdf/ngr_pres4.pdf.

The 12810, like the 12410, has 10 interface slots, and fits into half a standard telecom rack. It has a switch capacity of about 800 Gbit/s. The GSR 12816, like the GSR 12416, has 16 line card slots. It will have a total switching capacity of 1.28 Tbit/s and fit into a full 7-foot telecom rack.

In terms of capacity, these new chassis are a big leap forward for Cisco. The GSR 12416, the highest capacity box the company currently has available, supports 320 Gbit/s worth of capacity in one full rack. Juniper’s latest router, the T640, supports 640 Gbit/s in half a rack.

Cisco declined to comment on the new routers. But the approach outlined in the presentation fits in with the company's stated core routing strategy. Last month, Robert Redford, vice president for marketing in the public carrier IP group for Cisco, told Light Reading that Cisco was much more focused on developing denser line cards and expanding 10 Gbit/s to the edge of network. With the capacity of the GSR expanded, the new 128XX chassis will be able to support a variety of new line cards. For example, Cisco will be able to offer a 4-port OC192 (10 Gbit/s) card, and eventually, when interfaces become available, it will be able to offer a 1-port OC768 (40 Gbit/s) card.

While the new routers will be a significant improvement in technology for Cisco, it's also evident that the GSR 128XX isn't the long-awaited "HFR" product, a terabit, multi-chassis router that has been rumored to be in development since 1999.

Rumors have it that the HFR project has been cancelled and revived at least two times in the past three years. Some sources say that the central problem has been the software, which would require Cisco to come up with a brand new version of IOS (see Cisco Prepping Monster IOS Upgrade). That project was reduced sometime last year as a result of budget cuts.

The HFR was at one time thought to be revitalized, after Cisco completed the Growth Networks acquisition in 2000. But last summer it looked like the idea might not work, and some key individuals from Growth Networks left the company, according to sources familiar with the project. Other engineers on the project were transferred to other product lines.

While Cisco may be keeping its HFR developments quiet, many in the industry believe that the company is still working on some sort of scaleable solution, even if the team working on it is small. No one has seen the new HFR product in customer trials so far, but most experts are expecting to see more activity by Cisco later this year.

The delay in the HFR rollout may not be a bad thing anyway. Sam Wilson, an equities analyst with Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc. says that the core router market isn’t expected to pick up significantly until at least the beginning of 2003. A faster, denser GSR router could be enough to satisfy current Cisco customers until the HFR is ready. And with carriers still watching their wallets, they may be just as happy to buy a set of new line cards and a new switch fabric rather than buying a completely new system that will require a forklift upgrade.

But new potential customers -- like the RBOCs -- that are trying to break into the long-distance market and will use core routers to build out their IP data infrastructures, are looking for a long-term investment and will likely go with scaleable solutions.

“The fundamental problem is that the cost per bit is dropping,” says Steve Kamman an analyst with CIBC World Markets. “Equipment providers need to rethink how to build the network. And that means that a band-aid solution just won’t work.”

— Marguerite Reardon, Senior Editor, Light Reading
http://www.lightreading.com
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cyber_techy 12/4/2012 | 10:24:44 PM
re: Cisco's Got a Terabit Router Too The target is to start shipping in the first half of the first decade of the 21st century
fun2watch 12/4/2012 | 10:24:44 PM
re: Cisco's Got a Terabit Router Too Interesting proposal. But when those systems are available for shipping. Last time Cisco announced 10G system was a year before it actually shipping. This time no announcements only a demo of upgrading path.
bluemtn 12/4/2012 | 10:24:43 PM
re: Cisco's Got a Terabit Router Too If your looking for the edge RBAK is claiming most of that. Who knows if it's for real, they aperently are using a lot of protected memory so that you can do almost anthing to the indivedual process:

http://a1728.g.akamai.net/7/17...
dwdm 12/4/2012 | 10:24:43 PM
re: Cisco's Got a Terabit Router Too As a Cisco (and a Juniper) stock holder, I don't think Cisco should be focusing on the HFR. I don't even understand the benefit of such a product. Remember Monterey Networks? that didn't sell. Too big and too bulky and useless. I want Cisco to focus on products and technologies that help service providers reduce CAPEX and OPEX. The HFR/T640 don't do any of that. Also the fact that the 128xx and the T640 provide sub 40gig to each slot.... OC768 is going to be problematic. So the argument that some service providers would deploy a T640 for future growth doesn't apply.

Cisco needs to change IOS as a first priority. The CLI and the features should stay the same, but the OS under the covers need to change. I hope that they don't match JunOS since it has its own issues too.
signmeup 12/4/2012 | 10:24:43 PM
re: Cisco's Got a Terabit Router Too More likely, CSCO will say that it will be ready when customers are likely to need terabit routing..... Any guesses when that will be?

Of course if you subscribe to the Caspian view, we already need terabit services at the edge, per flow..... or if you subscribe to the Hyperchip view, we have already passed terabit (boy, that was quick!) and now need petabit routers.....

Frankly, I wish the router companies would quit trying to build the biggest and the fastest, and just give me what I want - a modestly priced, scalable box that allows me to add capacity when I need it (without a forklift), and can achieve high availablity without any caveats.

How about in-service code upgrades? How about controller redundancy that provides 50ms failover? Or so I don't have to reboot the box just to turn on a new feature........ Oooh, what about distributed processes so I can keep the box running even if my OSPF or ISIS process dies, and automatically restart the failed process???

Am I asking for too much?
jamesbond 12/4/2012 | 10:24:42 PM
re: Cisco's Got a Terabit Router Too How about in-service code upgrades? How about controller redundancy that provides 50ms failover? Or so I don't have to reboot the box just to turn on a new feature........ Oooh, what about distributed processes so I can keep the box running even if my OSPF or ISIS process dies, and automatically restart the failed process???

-------------------------------------

Only system(s) that I have heard of that can
do in-service code upgrades is Ericsson boxes (AXE xxx). The code is written in erlang (home
developed language). Its a fun language to
program in.

What do you mean by "distributed processes" ?
Why do you need "distributed processes" for
automatically restarting a dead process? Simple
watchdog mechanism should suffice. no?


light-headed 12/4/2012 | 10:24:41 PM
re: Cisco's Got a Terabit Router Too "And with carriers still watching their wallets, they may be just as happy to buy a set of new line cards and a new switch fabric rather than buying a completely new system that will require a forklift upgrade."

if new switch fabric and new linecards is not forklift upgrade... what is???

gee... i get to keep my sheet metal chassis and power supplies (maybe...)

it used to be that a non-forklift upgrade was when you could just add the new hw to the existing box without changing anything but the sw image.

it appears that instead of delivering 5 9s and non-forklift upgrades we will just re-define everything.
Lopez 12/4/2012 | 10:24:40 PM
re: Cisco's Got a Terabit Router Too if new switch fabric and new linecards is not forklift upgrade... what is???

A new Box? With JNPR if you bought a M40 and then wanted 10G interfaces, you needed to replace it with a M160 (where some of your PICs may no longer work), if you then decide you need 40G interfaces you need to replace that with a T640 (where again your PICs may not work).

If instead you bought a 12016 and wanted to add some 10G interfaces, you just add the 10G fabric cards, and put in your 10G linecards. If you then want 40G, you put in the 40G fabric cards and the 40G linecards. Every linecard ever made for the GSR will work in this system.

All components required for the change weigh 5lbs or less, no forklift needed.

gee... i get to keep my sheet metal chassis and power supplies (maybe...)

it used to be that a non-forklift upgrade was when you could just add the new hw to the existing box without changing anything but the sw image.


This is exactly what upgrading your 12410/12416 entails, I am glad we are in agreement.
xbar 12/4/2012 | 10:24:40 PM
re: Cisco's Got a Terabit Router Too if new switch fabric and new linecards is not forklift upgrade... what is???

gee... i get to keep my sheet metal chassis and power supplies (maybe...)
-----------------------------------------------
True. You keep also all the cards and their connectivity. Try using M160 OC192 PICs in the T640.
testdude 12/4/2012 | 10:24:39 PM
re: Cisco's Got a Terabit Router Too I guess you people really don't understand what a 'no forklift upgrade' really means. Its not replacing hw as you've determined, changing the switch fabric or even changing SW. I guess you people really are to deep up CISCO's ASS to understand.

No forklift upgrade really means adding user interface cards without disturbing the already installed base of cards, adding switch fabric to an already functioning system, modifying the software without disturbing the existing SW base. ALL this needs to be done without interupting the current functioning system. Juniper or Cisco do not offer this today. (M40, M160, GSR - I don't think so). The only people that have attempted this feat are NORTEL(OPC) and Alcatel(7770) and OPC got chopped, the 7770's been in development for years.

If there is anyone who can really get a scalable, distributed software no forklift routing box on the market then good for them, so far no one has.
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