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AlcaLu Issues 400G Router Challenge

Craig Matsumoto
6/28/2011

Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) is boosting its 7750 Service Router to 2 Tbit/s in port capacity -- that is, 10 cards each carrying two 100Gbit/s interfaces -- through the introduction of its FP3 network processor.

The Hollywood-style hype around Tuesday morning's announcement turns out to be directed at the FP3 itself, which AlcaLu claims can support 400 Gbit/s of traffic. Cards using the FP3 -- one with two 100Gbit/s ports and another with 20 10Gbit/s ports -- will be commercially available in mid-2012; AlcaLu has sample cards running in demos today.

Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) is shipping 100Gbit/s interfaces for its T-series core routers (and they're being used by Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ)) and expects to ship 100Gbit/s for its MX 3D routers by the end of the year. Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD) has two-port 100Gbit/s cards in trials with customers including Amsterdam Internet Exchange B.V. (AMS-IX) and is "days or weeks" away from general availability, a spokesman tells Light Reading via email.

Just earlier this month, Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) announced two-port 100Gbit/s cards for the ASR 9000.

Why this matters
The FP3 -- really a two-chip set consisting of a packet processor and a traffic manager -- lets AlcaLu continue to claim bragging rights in network processors, the chips that handle packet forwarding in routers and switches.

What's important isn't the 100Gbit/s interface or the 2Tbit/s metric, but the fact that the FP3 chip gives the 7750 more headroom than the competition appears to have. The company considers itself ready for 400Gbit/s Ethernet, for instance, which could be supported with two FP3s on a card.

Other companies' dual 100Gbit/s cards probably use multiple network processors, giving them a power and cost disadvantage, writes Simon Stanley, principal analyst with Earlswood Marketing Ltd. , in an email to Light Reading.

Stanley also notes that the FP3 is "lifting the 7750 into the same performance band as the T4000 and CRS-3," the core routers from Juniper and Cisco, respectively.

For more
Here's some recent news about the 100Gbit/s generation of router interfaces and network processors, and some AlcaLu background going back to 2008.



— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

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sgamble
sgamble
12/5/2012 | 5:01:01 PM
re: AlcaLu Issues 400G Router Challenge


I think people would love to see a test of the 9K, MX and 7750 with thier 100G tech.  LR hasn't done a real multivendor test since 2002 (I think it was)?  Is this something LR would try to do again or is there so much push back from the vendors on what can and cannot be inlcluded that it would never happen?


 


Steve

quicktime
quicktime
12/5/2012 | 5:01:00 PM
re: AlcaLu Issues 400G Router Challenge


Whose switch fabric is most advanced?


ASR 9000 claims its backplane supports 400G when shipped; 


They recently announced 24 10G and 2 100G cards, and looks


switch fabric also can support this rate.


Can others also sustain 400G?

Phil Morrison
Phil Morrison
12/5/2012 | 5:01:00 PM
re: AlcaLu Issues 400G Router Challenge


Are you claiming that cisco/juniper have the in-house talent to develop a 400Gbps chip that can route with full services enabled? If so where is it?  Who is more advanced?

torivar
torivar
12/5/2012 | 5:01:00 PM
re: AlcaLu Issues 400G Router Challenge


One issue with ALU right now is the fact the CPM4 fabric module is just now coming out and it can only supply 100Gbps to each slot redundantly.   In order to use the 200Gbps ilne cards (20x10GE and 2x100GE) at line rate you lose fabric redundancy.   Other vendors like Juniper and Cisco have the same issue on the ASR/MX where they are playing catchup with the fabric modules but they are further ahead than ALU.   

torivar
torivar
12/5/2012 | 5:00:59 PM
re: AlcaLu Issues 400G Router Challenge


Cisco uses EZ-Chip and Juniper uses their own Trio chipsets.  None of those chips are 400Gbps, they just put multiple processors on a board to handle a subset of ports.  That solution is probably less efficient from a power perspective, but no less valid.  


400Gbps is great for the future if you have a redundant fabric which can support it, but until then it's a non-starter for a lot of providers. 


There is a difference between "backplane" and the actual switch board components.   Backplanes are just eletrical connections and most of the modern routers can support much higher than what is available today.  


Cisco can deliver 90Gb/s full duplex per slot today redundantly.  Juniper can do 120Gb/slot but it is not 1:1 redundant today, it uses an N+1 fabric redundancy method so you need all 3 fabric modules to get 120Gb/slot and if you lose one you lose 1/3rd the capacity.   Cisco is supposed to be coming out with a new fabric this year which can do 200Gbps/slot and Juniper should have new SCBs as well which will give 120Gb/slot redundantly.  


ALU should be shipping the CPM4 within the next couple of months, so they will reach true 100Gb/slot full duplex redundantly before anyone else, but I think they will lag behind in the near future.   

Pete Baldwin
Pete Baldwin
12/5/2012 | 5:00:57 PM
re: AlcaLu Issues 400G Router Challenge





> I think people would love to see a test of the 9K, MX and 7750 with thier 100G tech.  LR hasn't done a real multivendor test since 2002 (I think it was)?  Is this something LR would try to do again or is there so much push back from the vendors on what can and cannot be inlcluded that it would never happen?


Steve -- As I understand it, the fundamental problem is just plain getting the equipment from them. We don't have the budget to walk around buying these things, so if vendors don't want to participate (and they haven't, in the past) -- then that's that.


We do have a couple of individual tests in the works (was I supposed to say that out loud?) but nothing comparative like you're talking about.


It's a terrific idea, though.




Phil Morrison
Phil Morrison
12/5/2012 | 5:00:57 PM
re: AlcaLu Issues 400G Router Challenge


This article isn't about fabric it's about the ability to forward/route packets with services enabled. ALU was ahead three years back with the introduction of the FP2 chip (100Gbps), and now with the announcement of the FP3 chip (400Gbps) they once again take the lead.


BTW the words, wire-speed and non-blocking seem to have been taken out of ASR data sheets last time I checked.  Wonder why that is..


 

torivar
torivar
12/5/2012 | 5:00:50 PM
re: AlcaLu Issues 400G Router Challenge


Whether you do that with 1 NP or 4 NPs really doesn't matter a whole lot to most folks at the end of the day.    What matters is the ability to push traffic through the router and support the necessary services.   Cisco can do 8x10GE line rate today (and for some time now) in a redundant chassis, with 200Gb/slot coming in the not so distant future.  


Juniper is behind on the MX960 with the 120G/slot limitation even into the foreseeable future.  


ALU can do 50Gb/slot with the CPM3 and 100Gb/slot with the CPM4, which is being released imminently.  Long-term I'm sure a CPM5 is on the horizon which will boost ALU to a true 200G/slot at some point in the future, in which they will definitely have the lead again on 10GE/100GE ports per RU but it would have been a real showstopper for them to release it the same time the new 20x10GE and 2x100GE cards are shipping (next year).  


We use MX960s, 7750s, and ASR9000s so I would like to see all of them achieve higher density faster...  

Phil Morrison
Phil Morrison
12/5/2012 | 5:00:48 PM
re: AlcaLu Issues 400G Router Challenge


The number of NPs does in fact matter if you start looking at board layout, power efficiency, etc...  That said the innovation and development of the NP (brain) is even more important .   Cisco has outsourced the development of the "brain", Juniper has "re-internalized" it, and ALU has an NP development team that is ahead of the pack by at least 2 years.


If the network is the platform, and the platform is key to success why on earth would you outsource the development of the NP?   

quicktime
quicktime
12/5/2012 | 5:00:46 PM
re: AlcaLu Issues 400G Router Challenge


Both NP and Switch Fabric are equally important in modern router/switch.


From the discussion here, ALU is ahead of others  in NP.


On switch fabric side, without reduandancy, ASR9K supports


180G/slot, MX960 supports 80G/slot with 2 SCBs, ALU supports 50G/slot?


The routing capability is limited by switch fabric. When buying products,


customers won't  just buy one component, and they look at cards/chassis systemly.


Using mature commodity chip has some advantages in engineering


products. Think about the success of Arista's switch, Juniper's MX ?.


 


 

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