Friday 7 June 2013

Cisco Preps Its Next Core Router: The 'CTR'

The next Cisco Systems Inc. is apparently named the "CTR" and is aiming for densities of at least 1Tbit/s per slot, according to a Cisco document obtained by Light Reading.
 Plenty of details are left out, such as when the CTR might ship. But the document makes it clear that the platform is meant to be a step beyond the CRS-3 core router:

•The router would support 1Tbit/s per slot in the form of a card with ten 100Gbit/s ports. Whether this card would be available right away isn't clear.
 That would still fall short of the 12 100Gbit/s ports per card that Arista announced for its switches, but, depending on when the card arrives, it could be the best density for a core router. As a point of comparison, the Alcatel-Lucent 7950 Extensible Routing System got announced last year with a theoretical per-slot capacity of 1.6Tbit/s (800Gbit/s if you're not double-counting the traffic).

•It would double as an MPLS label-switched router, to provide the kind of Layer 2 "lean core" (Cisco's phrase) that some carriers are talking about. (See Verizon Builds an MPLS Metro with AlcaLu and Juniper Aims Big With 100G Optical.)

•It would be an ASIC-driven design, as usual. The network processor involved would carry 336 packet-processing cores on-chip and would handle both Ethernet processing and OTN framing.

Cisco declined to comment on any of this, but sources close to the company confirmed Thursday that that a new core-routing platform is planned for launch later this year.

Such a system would give Cisco an answer to the Leading-Lights-award-winning AlcaLu 7950, which Cisco initially disparaged as not being a core core router. (See Alcatel-Lucent Thumbs Its Nose at Cisco.)

Separately, the document appears to confirm plans to produce 10Gbit/s and 40Gbit/s versions of the CPAK interface -- that is, modules with ten 10Gbit/s ports or two 40Gbit/s ports.

CPAK is Cisco's home-grown optical interface module, built with silicon photonics and providing power and density levels compatible with the CFP2 standard. (See Cisco Defends Its 100G Project.)

— Craig Matsumoto, Managing Editor, Light Reading