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Managing Editor

Avici scales down the core router

Dec 16, 20023 mins
System Management

Looking to broaden the market for its terabit routing portfolio, Avici Systems last week unveiled its smallest core router, a device intended to address the needs of carriers expanding IP backbones to smaller sites.

BILLERICA, MASS. – Looking to broaden the market for its terabit routing portfolio, Avici Systems last week unveiled its smallest core router, a device intended to address the needs of carriers expanding IP backbones to smaller sites.

Avici rolled out the Quarter-rack Scalable Router (QSR), a 10-slot, 80G to 100G bit/sec router that provides 10 10G bit/sec interfaces in a telephone company quarter rack (21 inches high). The density and footprint of the QSR are designed to appeal to service providers requiring core router performance with minimal space and power consumption.

Tier-2 carrier points of presence and international carriers fit that profile, Avici says.

“In the olden days it seemed all you needed was one, big core router,” says Kevin Mitchell, directing analyst at Infonetics Research. “Now it seems that all the players have a portfolio because as service providers build out their backbone, it’s not a one-size-fits-all.”

The QSR sports the same distributed architecture as Avici’s Terabit Switch Router and Stackable Switch Router, and shares all modules and software with the bigger, older routers. The QSR features Avici’s Non-Stop Routing technology for 99.999% reliability, a feature that Avici says obviates the need to deploy a redundant router to back up the primary unit.

NSR saves all pertinent routing state on a back-up route controller. Connectivity and “liveness” with peers is maintained while route controller failover is executed, Avici says.

The NSR route controller, meanwhile, sports 2G bytes of memory and supports up to 3 million Border Gateway Protocol routes.

Avici rolled out new line cards for use with the QSR. They include a one-port OC-192c module that takes up one chassis slot instead of two; a four-port OC-48c module; and a one-port 10G bit/sec Ethernet line card.

The new line cards let the QSR support up to 38 OC-192c or 10G bit/sec Ethernet ports, and 152 OC-48s per seven-foot rack when that configuration employs two route controllers. This compares with 16 OC-192s, 16 10G bit/sec Ethernets and 64 OC-48s per rack for Juniper Networks’ M-160, and 20 OC-192s and 80 OC-48s for Cisco’s 12406.

The QSR chassis, software, NSR route controller, OC-192c and four-port OC-48c line cards are expected to ship this quarter. The 10G bit/sec Ethernet line card is expected to ship in the first quarter of 2003.

Pricing for a QSR starts at about $100,000 for chassis and line cards, Avici says.

Analysts say Avici’s challenge with the QSR is not so much a technological one as it is the general state of the core router market (see story). Cisco and Juniper still dominate the market with a combined share greater than 90%. Overall, the market is declining.

Avici’s core router market share is between 2% and 3%. Alcatel is entering the market with a nonstop router, deep pockets and an established relationship with most major carriers.

Avici has two customers – AT&T and Qwest – that account for 80% of the company’s revenue.

“Whether [QSR] is going to make or break [Avici] remains to be seen,” says Roz Roseboro, an analyst at RHK. “They’re doing a lot of the right things. It’s a matter of if it’s going to matter, which is what I say for pretty much anybody who’s not Cisco or Juniper right now.”

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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