Cisco CRS-3 Carrier System Claims 12 Times Capacity Of Competitors

Cisco is targeting the CRS-3 toward service providers to meet the traffic demands placed on the Internet by the explosive growth of video, data center and cloud services in consumer, enterprise and government settings alike.

CEO John Chambers said in a Tuesday morning webcast that the move shows Cisco is moving from "being a plumber" to being at the forefront of "how you can deliver a whole new generation of services and business models."

The CRS-3 in effect triples the capacity of its immediate predecessor, Cisco's six-year-old CRS-1 Carrier Routing System, and offers 322 Terabits per second (Tbps) performance. It has what Cisco calls "tight linkages" -- services backbone, in other words -- with Cisco's Nexus family of switches and its Unified Computing System (UCS) virtualized data center package, and also includes carrier-grade IPv6 and core IP/MPLS capabilities to meet cloud computing demands.

The CRS-3 is currently in field trials, according to Cisco, and pricing begins at $90,000. Cisco Services does the upgrade on existing CRS-1 deployments, using its original chassis, route processors and power systems and adding new line cards and fabric. The CRS-3 is powered by a six-chip Cisco QuantumFlow Array Processor, also new from Cisco.

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Keith Cambron, president and CEO of AT&T Labs, said during the webcast that AT&T's mobile broadband traffic had increased by 5000 percent over the past three years, and that video is a "key driver."

AT&T tested the CRS-3 on AT&T's live network between New Orleans and Miami, and Cambron suggested that bandwidth demands are rising a lot faster than many observers had anticipated even five years ago.

Analysts had praise for Cisco's efforts immediately following the announcement Tuesday.

"In our January 2008 framework report, 'Introducing Anywhere IT,' Yankee Group predicted that the driving trends in the enterprise space would be cloud computing, mobility and social media—with Cisco's announcement, we are seeing that come to fruition," said Zeus Kerravala, distinguished research fellow at Yankee Group, in a statement.

"Cisco has set a new bar for network performance, delivering the industry's first 100 GigE-ready product with a total capacity of 322 Tbps—over 10 times that of its nearest competitor. Many may think we'll never need that much bandwidth, but the enterprise future of mobile TV, streaming media, YouTube, telepresence and 3-D HD TV surely demands it," Kerravala wrote.

Chambers said Cisco would be making additional announcements around the platform and new video opportunities throughout the year, saying "our innovation engine has never been faster."

The news follows other recent moves by Cisco in the mobile infrastructure space. At Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last month, the networking titan announced the ASR 5000, a re-branded version of the ST40 mobile core chassis Cisco acquired when it bought Starent Networks in October.

The CRS-3 announcement debunked rumors suggesting Cisco planned to announce a high-speed broadband network of its own, similar to the 1 Gbps fiber-optic broadband experiment announced by Google last month.