Cisco Launches Giant Router

Peter Judge has been involved with tech B2B publishing in the UK for many years, working at Ziff-Davis, ZDNet, IDG and Reed. His main interests are networking security, mobility and cloud

With 322 Terabit/s throughput, Cisco’s CSR-3 can download every movie ever made in four minutes. Just what the big operators need as we all turn to video

Cisco has announced the CRS-3 – a 322Tbps router, which it says will give us all the video and other high-speed communications we need.

In its much-hyped press announcement, Cisco had promised to “forever change the Internet and its impact on business consumers and governments”. In fact, things are likely to be business as usual, as the fast router gets gradually installed into operators back office systems, easing bottlenecks and letting connection speeds and throughput continue its upward pace.

322Tbps – fast enough for all needs?

The new device has three times the capacity of Cisco’s CRS-1 and, the company claims, more than twelve times the capacity of its nearest competitor from another vendor.  Cisco illustrated the capacity with outlandish claims – saying it could download the entire US Library of Congress in one second, or allow every single Chinese citizen to make a simultaneous video call – but the actual impact is to offer bigger pipes for the giant’s carrier customers.

According to one Twitter poster, the product (the result of $1.6 billion cumulative investment in the CRS platform) “turns Cisco from being a plumber to a business architecture provider”.

Others noted that AT&T endorsed the product during the company’s webcaset, keeping its huge contract for network infrastructure with Cisco. AT&T has tested CRS-3 in a field trial of 100 Gigabit backbone network technology, between New Orleans and Miami, and is planning to deliver fast backbones through more of the United States.

The system integrates with Cisco’s Unified Computing System UCS, the system it offers to provide combined network and server systems in data centres, which it launched one year ago to good reviews but which competitors have derided. The CRS-3 also provides carrier-grade IPv6 services, along with layer 3 to 7 traffic information for optimisation purposes, and VPN services for cloud providers wanting to support customers securely.

“Video is the killer app,” said Cisco CEO John Chambers, pointing out how moving pictures are generating massive increases in traffic. The product also integrates Internet and cloud services – and offers “unprecendented savings” to those operators currently running CRS-1s, who stick with Cisco.

That may well be the right message for network operators who, it has been suggested, are risking overheating the Internet by delaying needed network upgrades to their backbones.  Cisco is offering operators products for other parts of their networks also – last month, it was reported to be planning equipment for a 1Gbps broadband network, and in January it teamed up with Verizon to offer the so-called 4G mobile technology LTE.

The CRS-3 starts at $90,000 US (£60,000).