Cisco readying major core router upgrade?

Cisco MSC120 will bring 120G per slot to CRS-1, better compete with Juniper T1600

Cisco is reportedly soon announcing a new carrier core router as a next-generation follow on to the 6-year-old CRS-1, and a better competitor to Juniper's T1600.

Cisco is reportedly soon announcing a new carrier core router as a next-generation follow-on to the 6-year-old CRS-1, and a better competitor to Juniper's T1600.

The MSC120 Cisco router will boast 120Gbps per slot, according to a bulletin issued over the weekend from Oppenheimer & Co., which will overtake the single-unit throughput of Juniper's 100Gbps-per-slot T1600 and represent the "first major upgrade" to the CRS-1. Oppenheimer expects Cisco to unveil the MSC120 over the next month but that ASIC issues may push out delivery for another year or more.

"We believe Cisco has recently discovered issues with the supporting ASIC design, which could require a material redesign of the platform,"states Oppenheimer analyst Ittai Kidron in his bulletin. "This could delay product availability until mid-2011."

Cisco said it did not comment on "rumors or speculation." The company says it has shipped more the 3,200 CRS-1s since its May 2004 introduction.

Network router cheat sheet 

 Oppenheimer believes Cisco was to employ a three-chipset ASIC switching fabric architecture but that it recently discovered design faults requiring a redesign.

The delay might not open much of an opportunity for competitors, Kidron notes, because the company has faced similar issues in the past -- Oppenheimer believes Cisco had the same challenges with the ASR 9000 -- but managed to eventually address them.

"While delays of such magnitude are not positive, we believe they will have little to no impact on Cisco's financial performance," Kidron states in his bulletin. "Most of the core network vendor decisions have already been made and displacements are very rare. We don't expect Cisco to lose material business."

Oppenheimer estimates the MSC120 will support 12 to 24 slots with total throughput exceeding 2Tbps. It is unclear how the MSC120 will scale in large configurations though, Kidron notes -- the T1600 can scale to over 25Tbps using the TX Matrix Plus router interconnect.

Kidron does not see any major shakeup in router market share with the advent of the MSC120. The firm expects Cisco to retain its 60% share and Juniper its 33%.

Follow Jim Duffy on Twitter: Jim_Duffy@twitter.com

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