Juniper Goes Terabit With the T640

The worst-kept secret in high-speed routing technology is finally out of the bag.

After months of anticipation Juniper Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: JNPR) announced its next-generation core router, the T640, formerly referred to as "Gibson" (see Juniper Mum on Core Router... and Juniper Unveils Core Router).

First, the basics: As the name suggests, the T640 offers four times the routing capacity of the company's M160 product (which, incidentally, offers four times the capacity of the original Juniper router, the M40 -- see Juniper Sees Quadruple ). Juniper has also improved the density of the product by offering four OC192 (10 Gbit/s) ports per slot for a total of 32 OC192 ports in a half telecom rack chassis.

The product also makes a significant strategic leap forward by introducing a scaleable terabit routing architecture. Juniper officials say the T640 routers can be networked together using the high-speed optical backplane, a design that will eventually be connected into high-speed optical routing matrices using a forthcoming optical switch known as the TX. Juniper officials have not yet announced the details of the TX.

This leap in density is significant considering that Cisco’s most advanced router, the GSR 12416, offers 16 OC192 ports per chassis. For the past four years, the two companies have essentially been playing a game of leap-frog as one company jumps over the other about every 12 months with a new product announcement.

"This puts Juniper back in the driver's seat," says Steve Kamman, an analyst with CIBC World Markets.

Juniper also announced the T640's first customers, France Telecom SA, Verio Inc., the Internet2 Abilene Network and The National Science Foundation's TeraGrid Project. It also announced that WorldCom Inc. (Nasdaq: WCOM) is evaluating the product.

While most analysts and investors had known about the new router for some time before the announcement, the details of the architecture had not yet been known. The product is likely to put new heat on Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), which launched its GSR 12416 last year, to detail plans for a scaleable terabit router, which it does not yet have (see Cisco Ships OC192). The product, though launched in the teeth of a telecom capital spending recession, also helps validate the need for scaleable core routers in the network, something companies like Avici Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: AVCI; Frankfurt: BVC7) and Pluris Inc. have talked about for the past three years without much success.

"We knew the product was coming," says Kamman. "But Juniper usually doesn’t launch a product until they have a customer. So it’s great to see that someone has stepped up and needed this kind of capacity."

Indeed, density seems to be key for winning customers. Doug Junkins, vice president of IP engineering for the Verio Global IP Network, says that the provider has deployed two T640s in its network and has about 10 more to deploy over the next few months. Verio had been a big M40 customer and had waited for more than a year for the new Juniper router instead of replacing its M40s with M160s. He says the main reason that Verio bought the T640 is because of its density.

"We were looking for high numbers of 10-Gbit/s and 2.5-Gbit/s interfaces," he says. "We made a conscious effort to make our M40s last, and we waited for the new one because we knew we were going to deploy more 10 Gbit/s in the second half of this year and the M160 wasn’t going to be dense enough."

Cisco is focusing on building new, denser line cards for all of its GSR routers, according to Robert Redford, vice president for marketing in the public carrier IP group.

"Our focus today is on proliferating 10-Gbit/s technology throughout the network," says Redford. "And that means that we will include denser interface cards."

Juniper has designed several new ASICs (application-specific integrated circuit) for the T640. This ASIC has fixed a widely publicized packet reordering problem that still exists in the M160 OC192 line cards. The company still uses the same Junos software used in all of the Juniper routers. This is important from a management and administrative perspective. Junkins of Verio says that his company has had to maintain two sets of IOS code to run its GSR and 7500 routers from Cisco.

On the scaleability front, carriers will be able to add capacity by connecting up to eight T640 boxes using Vertical Cavity Surface Emitting Lasers (VCSELs) to transmit data over inexpensive optical fiber with a separate optical switch, the TX.

Companies like Pluris and Avici have been talking about scaling routers in this way for the past four or five years. So far, Avici’s TSR core router has only announced two customers -- AT&T Corp. (NYSE: T) and Qwest Communications International Inc. (NYSE: Q). Pluris, which hasn’t shipped a product for commercial deployment, is supposedly in trials with Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT), Level 3 Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: LVLT) and Qwest (see Pluris CEO Bolts). Pluris also uses an optical backplane to connect its multiple boxes. Avici uses copper cabling, which is limited in its speed and its transmission distances.

"An announcement from Juniper in this area certainly validates the market," says Steve Kaufman, president and chief executive officer of Avici. "There is an obvious need for scaleable, reliable routers."

But the question seems to be: When? Cisco hasn’t yet announced plans for a scaleable router, but it is clear that the company is working on something, and some analysts say they expect to see an announcement by the end of the year.

"At some point we will need to scale the products," says Robert Redford vice president of marketing for public carrier IP group at Cisco . "But the question is: Where is the investment today?"

Verio’s Junkins agrees. He says his company won’t be considering scaling the T640 for at least two more years.

That -- and the fact that the telecom slump has slowed down technology deployments -- gives Cisco plenty of time to deliver its own terabit routing strategy.

As for Wall Street, the T640 is expected to have only a minor impact on revenues this quarter and likely won't ramp up in sales until the end of this year.

— Marguerite Reardon, Senior Editor, Light Reading
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Holy Grail 12/4/2012 | 10:32:55 PM
re: Juniper Goes Terabit With the T640
An interesting product. I am curious to know if this thing can actually be plugged in and fully loaded in the real world?

152 Amps and 12.5 Kilowatts, and I can put two chassis in a 7ft rack. I'm sitting here trying to imagine a 13 bar electric fire drawing over 300amps sitting in my 19" rack and trying to imagine how long it would take to roast a Cisco SE standing within 3ft of it?

Serious question, anyone know if this is realistic/practical?


hyperunner 12/4/2012 | 10:32:55 PM
re: Juniper Goes Terabit With the T640 ...that I hadn't previously encountered.

As I understand it, Juniper and Cisco use "router math" (as the ATM guys call it, I've seen this term in at least 3 different vendor presentations). In other words, take your backplane capacity and double it. Justify it by counting packet in and packets out. This shows how disconnected the router guys are from the finance models. If we ever moved to a useage-based billing model, I'm sure customers would only pay us once for each packet :-)

This makes the M-40 a 20Gbps router, the M-160 80Gbps and the "T"...(got to love those marketing pukes)...T-640 a 320 Gbps router. Am I wrong here? Even if I am, 640Gbps is still somewhat short of 1Tbps.

It's like when I heard the Avici folks describe their box as a "Terabit router", when it only had a capacity of about 120Gbps. Not sure if they were using router math. By the way, I think Avici has an optical interconnect these days.

First place for marketing BS has to be Hyperchip...the "petabit" router company - LOL- I bet some marketing dweeb was soooo pleased with that tag line two years ago.

For me the problem isn't the capacity of these boxes. It's the fact that I've got to use a lot more people to maintain the IP part of my network than either the ATM or SDH units. IP is just so *damn* complicated, especially when we put BGP-driven VPNs into service.

billyjoebob 12/4/2012 | 10:32:53 PM
re: Juniper Goes Terabit With the T640 Are you saying this thing will eat 12.5 KW in 1/2 rack????? They must be using liquid cooling of some kind!!

I would really like to know more about this.
billyjoebob 12/4/2012 | 10:32:52 PM
re: Juniper Goes Terabit With the T640 Looking at Junipers data sheet - they have only two DC power modules? If this is a redundant system then one supply would have to operate the box independently. If they require 152 amps at 48DC (7296 W by my old time math) and each is only rated at 68A - something isn't adding up.

IS this really a 68A unit? Or it doesn't have fully redundant power - a huge showstopper.
Light-bulb 12/4/2012 | 10:32:52 PM
re: Juniper Goes Terabit With the T640 Its really interesting how often Heat comes up. As far as a RBOC goes I can completely understand why. However for the CLEC, or ISP I don't get it. (unless Leasing Space)

Its a very Linear equation looking at heat dissipation and frequency. The denser the circuit pack, the higher the frequency the hotter the technology... Literally.

How do you define if it is usable in the Real world? Does it need to conform to RBOC standards of 1200w a Rack? Or does it need to stay within 100A per bay? What are those numbers?

All I'm hoping for is the box puts out more than the MI-7 from Mahi. I think that is near 9600W/bay

Light-bulb 12/4/2012 | 10:32:52 PM
re: Juniper Goes Terabit With the T640 I wouldn't go so far as to say that IP is "Damn" complicated. Sure its more complex than ATM or SDH (Or SONET) it better be. Its a Layer 3 service. The others are Layer 2 primarily, Or if your a pure optical guy Sonet is Layer 1... I disagree on the meritt of framing occuring but never-the-less.
I do Agree with you completely regarding what i've long since called "Cisco Math" the counting of input and output traffic involved in a single flow. The bottom line is what comes in, must go out. (Even if the out is to the Sacred Bit Bucket at times)

I have one argument though about the article in general... Cisco did indeed release information on the Terabit routing capability of the 416 on its opening day when Cisco announced both the 416, and the ONS 15327? So as for a strategy I remember seeing the interconnected fabric using something similar to a Cray Channel for interconnect. (However Vapor it may have been) I don't suppose that Juniper can actually grow the routers today, and neither can Cisco. However the Architecture of both was designed from the get go.

packaging-man 12/4/2012 | 10:32:52 PM
re: Juniper Goes Terabit With the T640 It is not out of the question to air-cool something like this, if the thermal management is ok. In either case, the high power levels of this and other high power equipment shadow the true product density.

Typical RBOC facilities can not cool this type of power density. Their A/C systems would never be able to keep up, and I suspect their power distribution is not designed to support that much power (i.e. loading up a whol eline-up of these puppies). What this means is that they are forced to remove racks to the left and right of the one being populated (and not loading equipment in the rest of the rack it is loaded in, in order to satisfy the power generation per unit volume of CO space.

In the end, it does not matter how big this thing is, as it takes up the same 'virtual' space in the CO either way, except that the smaller piece of equipment will cost less to build....
skeptic 12/4/2012 | 10:32:51 PM
re: Juniper Goes Terabit With the T640 The product also makes a significant strategic leap forward by introducing a scaleable terabit routing architecture. Juniper officials say the T640 routers can be networked together using the high-speed optical backplane, a design that will eventually be connected into high-speed optical routing matrices using a forthcoming optical switch known as the TX. Juniper officials have not yet announced the details of the TX.

A question that a juniper customer should be
asking is:

If Juniper can deliver an interconnect that
can push the full bandwidth of an M640 across
a room to another M640 (or multiple M640s),
why isn't anyone building those interconnects
as standard networking interfaces? I mean it
would seem that to make it work you have to
have an interconnect that could handle multiple
OC-768's worth of bandwidth.

tsat 12/4/2012 | 10:32:50 PM
re: Juniper Goes Terabit With the T640 the T640 is a "node" on a "matrix" that
can be scaled to a single terabit-plus

Holy Grail 12/4/2012 | 10:32:50 PM
re: Juniper Goes Terabit With the T640
>the T640 is a "node" on a "matrix" that
>can be scaled to a single terabit-plus

And the difference between a "matrix" and a "network" is what? By this definition my PC is a Terabit router, it is a node on a network/matrix, and the network/matrix has an overall capacity of multiple Terabits!

I think that the Terabit router is a rather empty marketing term, the fact that Juniper have included this in their marketing is in fact an admission that they are worried about the folks claiming to have Terabit routers, so they've joined in the marketing arms race by introducing the T. There are plenty of other nods in the direction of the arguments put forward by the Terabit router vendors like Avici for example. The stuff in the Juniper announcments about consuming expensive revenue generating ports for box interconnect and the in-service capacity upgrades to name but two.

The real issue is that many operators actually don't yet need this sort of capacity let alone a Terabit. And it is this that is really hurting folks like Avici, Pluris, Hyperchip. The realy interesting question is more whether Cisco are going to let Juniper get back on their feet again after the M160 debarcle, or will they at some point try to buy them and reinstate their virtual monopoly. My gut feel is that Cisco should in fact buy Juniper if their mkt cap ever gets to a sensible level, this new T box is going to give them a real headache again. The downside of any aquisition might be that this would probably give Procket and Tony Lee another bite at the cherry in terms of being the Cisco 2nd source.

Food for thought!


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