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Managing Editor

Cisco extends high-end routers

Dec 10, 20035 mins
Cisco SystemsSystem Management

Cisco this week extended its Internet core and edge router line with a series of products and enhancements, including a new high-end system to go up against an 18-month-old core offering from rival Juniper Networks.

The highlight of Cisco’s router flurry is the 12800, a 40G bit/sec-per-slot Internet core router with higher density OC-192/STM-64 and OC-48/STM-16 line cards. The 12800 is Cisco’s response to Juniper’s T640, a 40G bit/sec-capable system that supports 32 OC-192c ports per eight-slot, half-rack chassis.

The 12800 is a switch fabric upgrade to Cisco’s current 10- and 16-slot 12000 router chassis. It supports all available 12000 series line cards as well.

The higher-density line cards are a two-port OC-192c and an eight-port OC-48c module. This brings OC-192c densities to 16 for the 10-slot router and 30 for the 16-slot router, which is still half that of the Juniper T640.

But Cisco claims the 12800 fabric quadruples the 320G bit/sec switching capacity of its previous high-end core, the 12416. Cisco says a 16-slot 12800 supports 1.2T bit/sec of switching.

And Cisco remains the market leader in Internet core routers with a 72% revenue share in the third quarter to Juniper’s 20%, according to Infonetics Research.

Juniper, however, is unfazed, especially with Cisco’s claim of investment protection for earlier generation 12000 series chassis through fabric and line card swaps.

“The sheet metal is the cheap part,” says Matt Kolon, senior solutions engineer at Juniper. “If (Cisco customers) want 40G, they need to buy a couple of new routing engines and line cards. Those are the expensive things about a router.”

Asked if Juniper customers deferred purchases of Juniper routers in anticipation of the 12800, Kolon says, “They’re not likely to defer for half the density.”

Cisco similarly extended its edge router portfolio. Cisco unveiled the 12010 and 12006 routers, 2.5G bit/sec-per-slot systems offered in 10- and six-slot chassis. These systems can be upgraded to 10G bit/sec-per-slot with a software “key,” Cisco says.

The new chassis support all existing 2.5G bit/sec 12000 series line cards.

Cisco also rolled out a souped-up route processor for the 12000 line. The Performance Route Processor-2 (PRP-2) improves route scalability by doubling CPU performance, and increasing memory for large route tables to support up to 4 million routes, Cisco claims.

Cisco also two new 12000 series line cards: a single-port channelized OC-12c/STM-4c packet-over-SONET card is designed for low-speed – DS-1/E-1 – termination; and a four-port OC3/STM1 ATM module to converge ATM core traffic over an MPLS backbone.

These particular enhancements are designed to enhance the 12000 series’ multiservice capabilities and “I/O independent” service features, says Tony Bates, vice president and general manager of Cisco’s Carrier Core and Multiservice Business Unit. The cards also support IPv4 and IPv6 features such as quality of service (QoS) and multicast for delivering data and real-time voice and video services, Cisco says.

Cisco also enhanced its 7600 series edge routers with a new system processor, Supervisor Engine 720-3BXL. The 720-3BXL is designed to support high-density private line, metro Ethernet and subscriber service aggregation for QoS-enabled IP/MPLS services with hardware-based acceleration for IPv6, Layer 2 and Layer 3 MPLS VPNs. This processor integrates a 720G bit/sec switch fabric with route processing in a single card for increased scalability and simplified operations, Cisco claims.

Cisco also extended the performance of the 7600’s Enhanced FlexWAN module, which enables the router to support older port adapters from Cisco’s 7200 and 7500 series routers. The module delivers feature and interface parity with the venerable 7500 series, enabling service providers to scale to 10G bit/sec and deliver point-to-point and point-to-multipoint services, such as Layer 2 and Layer 3 VPNs and Virtual Private LAN Service, Cisco says.

Service providers can also deploy existing leased-line services with metro Ethernet in a single platform via the 7600,  Cisco says.

Pricing for the 12800 starts at $178,500. The PRP-2 costs  $28,000, and the channelized OC-12 and OC-3 ATM cards cost $165,000 and $65,000, respectively. The 12010 chassis starts at $49,900, while the 12006 chassis’ entry price is $40,000. The 7600 Supervisor Engine costs $40,000 and the Enhanced FlexWAN module costs $15,000.

All products will be available in  January.

The two-port OC-192c line card costs $405,000 and the eight-port OC-48c card costs $468,000.

Meanwhile, Cisco’s Bates did not provide details on how Cisco plans to scale its routers to multi-terabit systems, a plan Juniper divulged 18 months ago  via a multichassis interconnect called the TX. Bates says there are no multichassis plans for the 12000 series, suggesting that Cisco is developing a whole new platform for multi-terabit requirements.

Analysts believe Cisco will unveil this new platform – referred to as “HFR,” which stands for Huge (expletive) Router – in the first half of 2004.

“(The 12800) is likely to be the last upgrade on the 12000 series for Cisco in terms of capacity as we expect Cisco’s next-gen ‘HFR’ router to come out in the March or April of 2004 timeframe,” states UBS Warburg Analyst Nikos Theodosopoulos in a research note. “We believe that the HFR will probably start at 640G bit/sec but scale to over 1T bit/sec over time.”

Juniper, meanwhile, says it will announce customer trials for the TX interconnect in the first half of 2004.

Managing Editor

Jim Duffy has been covering technology for over 28 years, 23 at Network World. He covers enterprise networking infrastructure, including routers and switches. He also writes The Cisco Connection blog and can be reached on Twitter @Jim_Duffy and at

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