RealTime IT News

Cisco Readies 'Huge Fast Router'

After years of research and development, network equipment giant Cisco Systems has announced its next-generation high-end router as part of its 20th anniversary celebration.

Previously code named HFR for "Huge Fast Router," Cisco is calling its Cisco CRS-1 Carrier Routing System (CRS-1) a "major innovation in global communications and networking." John Chambers, president and CEO, and other executives are scheduled to unveil the new hardware and software platform at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif., today.

The San Jose, Calif.-based company said its router is designed to help providers deliver next-generation data, voice and video services over a converged Internet Protocol (IP) network to business and residential customers.

"To be profitable, service providers are focusing on network and service convergence to reduce total cost of ownership, and adding new, revenue-generating services," Mike Volpi, Cisco senior vice president and general manager of its Routing Technology Group, said in a statement.

The new system is currently in field trials with Cisco's carriers and service providers and is scheduled for release in July with a USD $450,000 price tag.

Cisco is in need of a boost. The company is still reeling from the illegal release of some of its source code for its popular IOS operating system.

"We view this new system as strategically significant for Cisco," Christin Armacost, a telecom analyst with SG Cowen & Co., wrote in a research note to investors Monday.

Armacost doesn't see a near-term revenue bump from the product, which is arguably overdue, but said some contracts or endorsements from carriers may accompany the HFR announcement.

Among those said to have tested the router are carriers and ISPs with huge amounts of traffic to direct on their networks, such as Sprint , AOL and Verizon .

The CRS-1 will compete with Juniper Networks' T640 router. Juniper hailed the second anniversary of the T640, saying that the platform delivers "high availability, reliability and intelligent services at multi-terabit scale." Juniper's T640 customers include China Telecom, China Unicom, Cox Communications and Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) for the U.S. Defense Information Systems Agency's GIG-BE Program.

Cisco's CRS-1 parries Juniper's offering with a bevy of new hardware attributes including non-blocking, self-routed multi-shelf system that scales from 1.2 to 92 terabits per second (Tbps); an Optical Carrier (OC)-768c/STM-256c packet interface; and Cisco's Silicon Packet Processor (SPP), which is a sophisticated 40-Gbps application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC).

The company said its memory-protected, microkernel-based operating system also allows for process-level in-service upgrades, and enables fully distributed processing by separating of the control, data and management planes. The modular design lets the router support fault containment and automatic fault recovery so that processes can be started, stopped and upgraded without human intervention. In addition, Cisco said the CRS-1 features self-defending network capabilities to automatically recognize disruptive activities, such as distributed-denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, with hardware- and software-based infrastructure.

The platform also includes Cisco IOS XR Software, a new member of the Cisco IOS Software family, designed for terabit-scale routing systems built on massively distributed multi-shelf architectures. The software runs system management through command-line-interface (CLI) enhancements, Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) or XML-based interfaces. Cisco said its new XML-based Craft Works Interface (CWI) is a visual management tool that can manage single-shelf or multi-shelf systems. The company said it is rounding out the package with its Cisco Intelligent ServiceFlex design for service.

With the new CRS-1 platform, Cisco said system processes such as Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) and Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) can also be fully distributed across the routing system.

Already, customers are lining up to adopt the system. Beyond its testing base, the company said MCI and the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC) are expected to install the new router system. MCI is scheduled to demonstrate the fastest IP intercity transmission ever across MCI's IP backbone at 40-Gbps throughput. PSC said it is using the CRS-1 to manage its TeraGrid connection and is planning to install the system as part of the national backbone for National Lambda Rail (NLR).