New Cisco Technology Breaks Router Mold

Four years in the making, the Cisco CRS-1 Carrier Routing System was built to provide the scalability and always-on capabilities service providers require, said John Chambers, Cisco's president and CEO, during the product launch at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif.

"Today is an example of what we think is the biggest jump we've ever taken in innovation since the router was introduced 20 years ago," Chambers said at the event.


Cisco's John Chambers and Mike Volpi (l. to r.) tout the new CRS-1's self-healing features.

The CRS-1 router delivers up to 92 terabits of data per second,a capacity increase of 100-fold over current offerings at four times the speed, he said.

Even though sales of the router mostly will go through the vendor's direct-sales channel, solution providers said they expect the new technology it's built on to filter down into enterprise and SMB products.

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The CRS-1 incorporates new hardware and software underpinnings, including a modular version of Cisco's Internetwork Operating Software, dubbed IOS XR, and the Silicon Packet Processor, a 40-Gbps programmable ASIC jointly developed with IBM.

The router has the ability to perform maintenance and upgrades without taking the system down, as well as self-healing features.

Such features would be welcome additions to Cisco's enterprise routers and would help partners reduce maintenance costs, said Chris Vincent, vice president of sales and marketing at Global Data Systems, Lafayette, La.

Enterprise usage is also placing heavier demands on router processing power and memory, said Robert Keblusek, senior vice president of business development at Sentinel Technologies, a solution provider in Downers Grove, Ill. "Security is one big element. As we start to do more end-to-end encryption at LAN speed, it's going to be very important that the WAN can handle that," he said.

Cisco invested more than $500 million to develop the new architecture, Chambers said, pointing to the CRS-1 router as the first in a series of new products scheduled for delivery over the next year. The CRS-1 is currently in field trials with several customers, including MCI and Sprint. It is scheduled for availability in July with a starting list price of $450,000.