Cisco Boosts the Core With CRS-3

Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) is upgrading its core router, boosting the CRS-1 to what it claims is 12 times the capacity of the nearest competitor, the company announced today during a widely publicized Webcast. (See Cisco Intros the CRS-3.)

The CRS-3, as the new router is named, can deliver 322 Tbit/s, Cisco officials said in today's announcement. That's probably in a multichassis implementation; the CRS-1 can reach a claimed 92 Tbit/s, but only if 72 of them are linked together.

That stonking level of capacity is the crux of what has been touted (by Cisco) as a world-shaking event. In Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL)-like lingo, the router giant has been proclaiming for weeks that today's announcement would "forever change the Internet." (See Rumor: Cisco to Reveal Access & Core Plans.)

The move reasserts Cisco's router bragging rights. The company had fallen behind in certain core router metrics during the past year or so, as the CRS-1 handles only 40-Gbit/s interfaces; Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) and Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) have already announced plans for 100-Gbit/s (or more) interfaces. (See Rumor: Cisco Prepping CRS-1 Successor, AlcaLu Readies 100GigE Cards , and Juniper Claims 100-Gig First.)

But it's about more than just bandwidth. Cisco has staked its future on video, claiming that the network has to be designed differently. One key driver will be the way data centers connect to one another, which, in turn, will determine "how the content gets moved closer and closer to the devices," said Suraj Shetty, Cisco's vice president of service provider marketing, during the Webcast. "IP core becomes one of the fundamental foundation elements of building the next-generation Internet."

To that end, Cisco is introducing the Network Positioning System for tapping virtualized resources. Cisco cited the example of a workplace at the end of a quarter: When network activity suddenly swells, the NPS will seek out the computing and storage resources that are needed, regardless of location, and will provision its own virtual private network (VPN) to reach those resources.

In that way, Cisco sees the CRS-3 working closely in conjunction with the Universal Computing System, Cisco's all-in-one data center package. (See Cisco Dreams of Data Center Unity.)

Cisco officials say the CRS-1 can be upgraded, in-chassis, to become a CRS-3, echoing the way Juniper can upgrade its T640 core router to a T1600. Officials also stress that today's announcement doesn't mean the CRS-1 is being discontinued.

As for changing the Internet, Cisco claims it's got many more announcements to come, connecting all parts of the network down to even consumer devices. The Starent acquisition, which gives Cisco a foothold in the mobile core network, will end up relating to today's announcements as well. (See Cisco to Buy Starent for $2.9B.)

The CRS-3 is in customer trials. In fact, AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) says it used the router in the live-network 100-Gbit/s test announced yesterday. (See Opnext Makes Its 100G Move.) Cisco expects to make it generally available in the September quarter.

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

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mr zippy 12/5/2012 | 4:41:36 PM
re: Cisco Boosts the Core With CRS-3

Don't have much of an opinion on the box itself. However, after I started to watch the 2nd Cisco video - "Advanced Services Intelligence and Scale Up to 322 Tbps" - and again started hearing about how fast it was (all the video calls in China), I groaned and stopped it. I've been hearing these sorts comparisons for the last 15 years. I'm in data comms. I know how fast a megabit, 10 megabits, 10 Gbps and 1 Tbps is, and what you can do with them. If you think you have to dumb down how fast 3.2 Tbps is, then you're missing your target audience. Anybody who doesn't know how fast 3.2 Tbps is won't be involved in the purchasing decision for a CRS3, and anybody who does, is being talked down to by these comparisons.


On a lighter note, is the 322 Tbps Cisco maths or not?

Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 4:41:35 PM
re: Cisco Boosts the Core With CRS-3

I totally agree about the big-number comparisons.  I don't care how much the Library of Congress can be downloaded or how many people could watch Star Wars at the same time. You can use the same method to make 20 Mbit/s sound awesomely fast.  I was ranting about this when the CRS-1 first came out, and I'm even more tired of it now.

Their target audience, though, aren't the people buying CRS-3s.  It's Wall Street, and the media outlets that feed it.  And the media outlets, at least, eat this stuff up.


The 322 Tbit/s is Cisco math.  So really, you'd be able to switch 161 Tbit/s at a time.

And of course, like the CRS-1's "92 Tbit/s," the 322 figure is reachable when you have 72 chassis linked up.

brtechy 12/5/2012 | 4:41:34 PM
re: Cisco Boosts the Core With CRS-3

kLoCs - that's genius! Although let's face it, if the Library of Congress excample got tepid, it's not bad to say you could download all movies ever made in less than 4 minutes and other stuff - PR people call them "soundbites", and they really stick...

Has anyone made the calculations? Now, as for the timing, I believe indeed Cisco got back to the 100G game, announcing the AT&T real life pilot and the availability by Q3. It's gonna be a game of catch-up for JNPR and others.

IMHO, despite all of the inflated numbers, we really have to consider aggregate capacity in a multi-chassis environment to do comparisons. It's no good to have great line cards and slots if they can't add up in a multi-chassis config, and that is for real.

Agree with the marketing targets - they're not engineers at LR, they're the media and wall street - and it works...



desiEngineer 12/5/2012 | 4:41:34 PM
re: Cisco Boosts the Core With CRS-3

So, going by your earlier comments, since 322 = 92*3.5, the capacity of one CRS-3 is 3.5 times the capacity of one CRS-1.  They have new boards that go at 3.5*40 = 140Gbps.  Dang, why didn't they call it a CRS-3.5?

So they figured out that they could actually squeeze 140Gbps out of the 120Gbps boards they are designing?

I feel like Joshua when the sun stood still.  Jaw dropping, eyes glazing over, as the bits stream by me.  I think we will be counting time in Library of Congress units from now on.  One hour = 3.6 KLoCs.


litereading 12/5/2012 | 4:41:33 PM
re: Cisco Boosts the Core With CRS-3

The core router seems to have become to the Internet what the class 4/5 switch was to POTS.  I thought the Telco's wanted to avoid getting trapped again with all their eggs in one basket.  

jggveth 12/5/2012 | 4:41:33 PM
re: Cisco Boosts the Core With CRS-3

Is it 72 chassis or 72 shelves?  How many CRS-3 shelves in a chassis?

pashukla 12/5/2012 | 4:41:33 PM
re: Cisco Boosts the Core With CRS-3

The CRS-3 has twenty-eight 140 gigabit Ethernet slots per chassis. The individual platform has 3.92 terabits of capacity. The 322 terabits/seconds can only be achieved by connecting 72 chassis together.

The announcement has too many number games (Entire China making a video call/ Downloading Library of Congress in 4 sec etc) which looks like an attempt to persude people of the merits.

Juniper has already announced 250 gigabit Ethernet ports which will make its routers capable of 4 terabits per chassis.

So isn't Cisco's announcement looks more of an hype?

Honestly 12/5/2012 | 4:41:32 PM
re: Cisco Boosts the Core With CRS-3

Maybe the mediocre PR works for/on you, but it sounds more like an ad to me.  Juniper will be at parity, or better next QTR and this overblown piece of S__t will barely move the cash register at CSCO.

Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 4:41:32 PM
re: Cisco Boosts the Core With CRS-3

> Is it 72 chassis or 72 shelves?  How many CRS-3 shelves in a chassis?

One CRS-3 box takes up a full 7' rack (just like a CRS-1).  So the words are interchangeable in this case.

stevedc3 12/5/2012 | 4:41:31 PM
re: Cisco Boosts the Core With CRS-3

it's very fitting that all we got today from Cisco was a core router announcement... one that's been in development for years and years. Saw this coming from a mile away -

Here's background on why Cisco is pushing the hype so hard -

<h2 id="posttitle_13070073">The Background Behind Cisco's Chest Pounding</h2>


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