Cisco unveils über edge router

NOVEMBER 11, 2008 By Stephen Hardy -- Cisco today took the wraps off its much discussed edge router. The Aggregation Services Router (ASR) 9000 series, which will include 10- and 6-slot versions, is designed to eventually accommodate 400 gigabits per slot.

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NOVEMBER 11, 2008 By Stephen Hardy -- Cisco (search for Cisco) today took the wraps off its much discussed edge router. The Aggregation Services Router (ASR) 9000 series, which will include 10- and 6-slot versions, is designed to eventually accommodate 400 gigabits per slot. Along with the company's CRS-1, XR-1200, and 7600 Series routers, the new platform enables Cisco to extend its IP over DWDM strategy from the core to the edge, Cisco sources assert.

The platform represents the current ultimate in scalability, video services support, reduced cost of ownership for mobility services provision, and power dissipation, say Cisco spokesmen Brendan Gibbs and Doug Webster. For example, the larger version of the router is engineered to provide up to 6.4 Tbits/sec of total capacity. With the 400-gigabits per line card a design maximum, the initial version of the system will feature line cards capable of supporting eight ports of 10 Gigabit Ethernet. Gibbs and Webster declined to reveal Cisco's roadmap for reaching the 400-gigabit figure, either in terms of what the configuration would be or when it would be available to the market.

The router design is optimized for video services support. The platform features the Cisco Advanced Video Services Module, which is designed to enable terabytes of streaming capacity for edge aggregation applications. It also supports content caching, ad insertion, fast channel change, and error correction. This last capability will enable errors to be detected and corrected within 50 msec. The spokesmen said that the module will make the ASR 9000 an ideal aggregation engine for multiple switches in an Active Ethernet (or as Cisco terms it, "Ethernet Fiber to the Home") optical access network.

Cisco also is emphasizing the environmentally friendly aspects of the new router. The modular power supply is designed to scale with the system's capacity to ensure energy efficiency. Gibbs and Webster say that the system requires only 40% of the power competitive boxes require.

Not that the Cisco spokesmen were willing to concede that the new router has competition. Claiming that the engineered capacity of 400 gigabits per line card is 4X the capacity other router vendors are only now starting to discuss, Gibbs and Webster say the ASR 9000 Series represents a new class of platform. However, the company put the new box side-by-side with Alcatel-Lucent's 7750 and Juniper Network's MX-960 in a briefing for media.

Japanese carrier SoftBank is the first user of the new platform. Gibbs and Webster say that trials with other Tier 1 carriers in North America and Europe are ongoing. The system should be generally available in the first quarter of next year at a starting price of approximately $80,000.

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