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Nokia Routers Take a Step Toward 'Petabit' Age

Craig Matsumoto

Nokia is ready to take its shot at selling routers into web-scale cloud providers, as the company has begun shipping gear based on its supercharged FP4 processor.

Basil Alwan, president of IP and optical networks at Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK), made the announcement during the company's analyst event earlier this month in Helsinki, Finland, a Nokia spokeswoman confirmed. We're talking about low-volume initial shipments of the routers to select customers; general availability will start in 2018.

Nokia announced the FP4 in June, saying it will be at the heart of a new line of "petabit-class" routers, the 7950 series. Nokia also plans to use the FP4 in its flagship 7750 router series. (See Nokia Heralds Fastest Network Processor Ever.)

The 7750 has its roots in TiMetra, a startup acquired by Alcatel-Lucent, which was subsequently acquired by Nokia. Throughout that time, the router line has provided credible competition against Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) and Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) in markets such as core routing and aggregation routing.

Nokia says the FP4 specifically targets web-scale players. That's not surprising, given the breakneck growth of the public cloud. But Nokia, Cisco and Juniper all face a new wave of stiff competition from merchant silicon and white boxes.

The latest merchant switch chip from Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM), called the Tomahawk 3, is likewise crafted specifically for the web-scale market, aiming for massive throughput and the ability to fan out to as many data-center devices (think servers and storage) as possible. (See Broadcom Ups Its Game in Ethernet Switching.)

Merchant silicon is already making inroads with web-scale types. Barefoot Networks -- whose Tofino switch chip, like Broadcom's Tomahawk, is sold to OEMs and white box vendors -- announced in May that it's working with Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent. The latter two are investors in Barefoot.

— Craig Matsumoto, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

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12/27/2017 | 1:05:05 PM
Selling to some web scale providers is tough business. Many of them, like Google and Facebook, prefer to build a lot of this stuff internally. I'm sure there are many other firms that would seek this technology out, however. 
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