Cisco Shrinks CRS-1 – Again!

Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) has unveiled a new, small version of its CRS-1 core IP router that has just four 40-Gbit/s slots, one quarter the capacity of the full sized version that was unveiled in May 2004. (See Cisco Unveils Small CRS-1 and Cisco Unveils the HFR.)

Cisco released an eight-slot version –- a half-sized CRS-1 –- in December 2004. (See Cisco Scores CRS-1 Customers.) But carriers have been asking for an even more affordable and physically smaller model that can be deployed in distributed points of presence (POPs), says Wolfgang Fischer, a member of Cisco's core networks development team based in Europe. "There has been an outspoken requirement for a smaller, more cost-effective platform," says the Cisco man.

The list price for the 4-slot model is $160,000, compared with $225,000 for the 8-slot, and $450,000 for the full-sized version.

According to Cisco, the new model, which will be commercially available in November this year, provides 320 Gbit/s of switching capacity from its four 40-Gbit/s slots, but that's because the vendor adds up the ingress and egress capacity. Like the larger models, it runs the XR operating system, and uses the same components as its larger CRS-1 siblings.

It measures 30 x 18.55 x 30.28 in. (76.2 x 47.12 x 76.91 cm) with front cover, or 16,851 cubic inches, compared with the 24,659 cubic inches of the eight-slot model. (See Table 1, CRS-1 Comparison Crib Sheet.)

Table 1: CRS-1 Comparison Crib Sheet
Model Slot capacity Switching capacity (ingress plus egress) Dimensions (Height x Width x Depth) List price
CRS-1 4-Slot Single Shelf 4 320 Gbit/s 30 x 18.55 x 30.28 in. (76.2 x 47.12 x 76.91 cm) with front cover $160,000
CRS-1 8-Slot Single Shelf 8 640 Gbit/s 38.5 x 17.5 x 36.6 in. (99.06 x 44.45 x 93.0 cm) $225,000
CRS-1 16-Slot Single Shelf 16 1.2 Tbit/s 84 x 23.6 x 36 in. (213.36 x 59.94 x 91.44 cm) $450,000
CRS-1 Multishelf Up to 1152 92 Tbit/s Dependent on number of shelves Dependent on number of shelves
Source: Cisco

It will be targeted at large carriers with a widely distributed network, cable operators with high throughput hubs, and data center peering sites. "There are a lot of potential customers that don't need the big machines," says Fischer.

At the front of the queue to evaluate the new model is long-time Cisco champion Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S), which has been putting the various iterations of Cisco's core router through its paces for several years, and plans to commercially deploy the platform in the fourth quarter of this year.

The carrier's VP of network development, Iyad Tarazi, is quoted in Cisco's press release as saying that the new model will enable Sprint to "lower costs and more efficiently handle the convergence of voice, video, data and mobility services, while still gaining the scalability, reliability and service flexibility that the platform provides."

The 4-slot version is also been considered by research and enterprise consortium National LambdaRail (NRL) , which has already been using the CRS-1 for more than a year. (See NLR Deploys CRS-1s.)

There are no current plans for an even smaller, 2-slot CRS-1, as the economics of building and maintaining such a model don't stack up, says Fischer.

Separately, Cisco announced that Korean incumbent carrier KT Corp. will deploy the CRS-1 platform in its Kornet backbone. Cisco hasn't said which model KT will install, but the vendor claims its products are replacing "core routers previously supplied to KT by one of our competitors."

That competitor would be Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR), which announced its deployment in December 2003. Neither Juniper's Asia team nor KT could be reached for comment as this article was published. (See KT Uses More Juniper.)

Juniper is Cisco's fiercest rival in the core router space. It launched its TX, the direct competitor to the full-sized CRS-1, in December 2004. (See Juniper Unveils the TX.)

Other core router vendors include Avici Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: AVCI; Frankfurt: BVC7), Foundry Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: FDRY), and Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. (See Huawei Goes Hard Core, Avici Defiant Over HFR, and Foundry Claims Core Crown.)

Cisco also says BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA), which is using the CRS-1 in the core of its 21CN next-generation network, conducted a series of video traffic tests in its labs during July this year that involved the CRS-1 platform supporting 400,000 simultaneous unique multicast streams. (See BT Unveils 21CN Suppliers and Cisco Picked for BT's 21CN.)

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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digits 12/5/2012 | 3:42:10 AM
re: Cisco Shrinks CRS-1 – Again! Any thoughts from CRS-1 early trialists/users about the new operating system? Some new features weren't expected until this year.
OpticOm 12/5/2012 | 3:42:07 AM
re: Cisco Shrinks CRS-1 – Again! It is much easier to shrink a system that to expand it, from an engineering standpoint.
Kudos to them!
tsat 12/5/2012 | 3:42:07 AM
re: Cisco Shrinks CRS-1 – Again!
Hmm.. how many years did it take Cisco to make a box that could compete with Juniper's T320?

Honestly 12/5/2012 | 3:42:06 AM
re: Cisco Shrinks CRS-1 – Again! The poster that claims he is a customer. Hey BS artist use your company name so we know that you are really a CSCO plant.

As for the LR request on how the CRS is doing. Sprint in nothing new and bet CSCO gave KT a huge discount to take this 1 trick pony. CRS is doing a bit better with cable apps, but lets be honest, in the core Juniper has won just about every significant deal at tier 1 carriers. I hear that CSCO may win a little business at DT/TCom, but they are second source and still the CRS is not on the DT approved vender list. No sign at BT.
CRS was too much too late, now they announce a November release that will most likely be March. keep tabs LR.
laserboy 12/5/2012 | 3:42:06 AM
re: Cisco Shrinks CRS-1 – Again! Hey "Honestly" use your company name so we know that you are really a JNPR plant.
everythingip 12/5/2012 | 3:42:06 AM
re: Cisco Shrinks CRS-1 – Again! hmmmmm, well from testing both of them, I would say Cisco years were well worth the wait, especially with the area that I am focus on which is multicast performance.
pingpingping 12/5/2012 | 3:42:05 AM
re: Cisco Shrinks CRS-1 – Again!
Hmmmm.. which software image did you have to use to get that great multicast performance?

california 12/5/2012 | 3:42:05 AM
re: Cisco Shrinks CRS-1 – Again! What I hear is that each of the CRS-1 linecard costs $1 M (list price). The price shown on the article is only for the mainframe, and the actual CRS-1 router with line cards are very expensive and power consuming.
Belzebutt 12/5/2012 | 3:42:05 AM
re: Cisco Shrinks CRS-1 – Again! For those who logged in to a CRS-1, what's the CLI like? Is it exactly the same as IOS? Any notable enhancements?
Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 3:42:04 AM
re: Cisco Shrinks CRS-1 – Again! california,

I seem to remember writing about a $1M line card for CRS-1, but that was one particular card. Is it really true across the board? Interesting, if it is.

You're right, anyway, that the line cards are expensive. That's where equipment vendors make their real money -- in the line cards and upgrades, rather than the box itself.
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