Alcatel-Lucent revs up edge routers

Answers major Cisco, Juniper product launches by scaling edge to terabits, doubling densities

Alcatel-Lucent this week unveiled significant upgrades to its edge lineup, highlighted by a new chip.

Alcatel-Lucent this week joined an ongoing announcement party among major router vendors by unveiling significant upgrades to its edge lineup, highlighted by a new chip.

The company said its 7750 Service Router (SR) and 7450 Ethernet Service Switch (ESS) now deliver terabit performance to support the growth of IPTV, WebTV, business VPNs, and 3G and 4G mobile services. Terabit speeds are enabled by Alcatel-Lucent's internally developed FP2 network-processing and traffic-management chipset, which at 100Gbps provides a tenfold increase in performance over the company's FP1 device. (Compare Access Router products.)

FP2 was three years in the making, said Basil Alwan, president of Alcatel-Lucent's IP business. "This is a very important announcement for us," he said, adding that FP2 helps Alcatel-Lucent maintain a one-year to two-year technological lead on Cisco and Juniper Networks in the service edge-routing market. "It enables us to continue to lead in this space."

Alcatel-Lucent is second to Cisco in the carrier-Ethernet switch and router market, according to Dell'Oro Group. The two vendors accounted for 75% of the $4.6 billion worldwide market in 2007, with Cisco responsible for more than half, Dell'Oro notes.

Souped-up silicon has been a recurring theme among major router vendors in the first quarter of this year. Cisco recently announced its QuantumFlow processor for the new ASR 1000 line of edge routers, and Juniper launched its entrée into enterprise LAN switching by touting the high-performance "Hurricane" ASICs of its EX line.

While the EX is an enterprise play, Alwan says Cisco's ASR 1000 is not in the same category as the terabit-enabled 7750 SR and 7450 ESS.

"It's a different class of product," Alwan says. "It's more like our [Integrated Service Adapters] in a box. It's more of a [deep-packet inspection]-ish platform -- 10Gbps with high touch, like an ISA. It does not compete with 7750 or 7450."

ISAs are deep-packet inspection modules for the 7750 that add intelligence and packet processing for specific tasks, such as IPSec VPNs or application assurance. Indeed, this week's FP2 announcement includes those two specific ISAs for the 7750 and 7450.

Instead of the ASR 1000 or Juniper EX, the souped-up 7750 and 7450 will continue to go up against Cisco's 12000XR and 7609 edge routers, and Juniper's M320 and MX960 routers and Ethernet switch/routers. Alcatel-Lucent says the platforms support more than five times the 10 Gigabit Ethernet and four times the Gigabit Ethernet full-rack densities of Cisco's 12000XR and 7609; and about twice the 10 Gigabit Ethernet and 27% to 57% more Gigabit Ethernet density than the Juniper systems.

Service providers worldwide are expected to spend more than $50 billion on routers and metro Ethernet switches from 2006 to 2010, Alcatel-Lucent says, citing data from Infonetics.

The FP2 and new I/O and media-adapter modules for the 7750 and 7450 more than double the density of Gigabit ports and 10 Gigabit Ethernet ports on those platforms, Alcatel-Lucent says. Both platforms now support as many as 1,200 Gigabit Ethernets and 150 10 Gigabit Ethernets in a single rack, the company says.

The FP2 chipset also provides a path to 100 Gigabit Ethernet, the company says.The new modules for both platforms include the following:* 50Gbps (full-duplex) Input/Output Module3-XP

* 20-port Gigabit Ethernet, SFP-Fiber

* 20-port 10/100/1000 Ethernet, copper

* 2-port 10 Gigabit Ethernet, XFP

* 4-port 10 Gigabit Ethernet, XFP

* Application Assurance ISA

An IPSec ISA will be available for the 7750 but not for the 7450. All products are expected to be available in the third quarter except for the Application Assurance ISA, which will ship in the second quarter.

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