Cisco finally ratchets up to 10 gigabits

A year after its closest competitor, Cisco Systems Inc. at the ComNet trade show announced 10G bps capabilities for Internet core routing, with two new switches and line cards.

Cisco's new 12400 line of Internet core switches is made up of the 10-slot 12410 and the 16-slot 12416. They both support a new, single-port 10G bps OC-192c packet-over-SONET line card and a four-port OC-48c POS module.

Cisco's OC-192c interface appears a year after rival Juniper Networks announced and shipped its first OC-192c blades for the M160 platform. Those products have been well accepted by service providers despite a packet misordering situation that occurs with very large flows.

Juniper's market share in Internet core routing stood at 30 percent in the third quarter of 2000, while Cisco owned 69 percent, according to the Dell'Oro Group in Redwood City, Calif.

Cisco's 12416 features a 320G bps switching fabric, while the 12410 clocks in at 200G bps. Modules from Cisco's current generation of 12000 routers can run in the new chassis. Also, the chassis for the 16-slot 12016 can be used to run the new 10G bps modules by swapping out switching fabrics, Cisco says.

The routers have a dedicated 25M packets per sec forwarding engine for high per-slot performance, and Very Short Reach optics which reduce intra-point of presence connectivity charges by 50 percent and will accelerate worldwide deployment of OC-192c interfaces, Cisco says.

Missing form the announcement was talk of scaling the 12400 into a terabit-capable system. Cisco had a compelling 5 terabps story to tell when it announced the 160G bps 12016 last year, but such was not the case with today's 12400 rollout, leading to speculation that Cisco's terabit story is not resonating with service providers.

Cisco's terabit strategy is still evolving, acknowledges Robert Redford, senior director of marketing in Cisco's Internet POP systems business unit.

"We're looking at ways to do it better," Redford says. "The need for terabits is still a little bit farther out there. Customers wanted 10G bps first."

Cisco also announced a lower-end platform for accessing optical metropolitan-area networks. The Cisco ONS 15327 is an eight-slot chassis housing one-port OC-48, one-port OC-12, four-port 10/100M bps Ethernet, three-port DS-3 and 28-port DS-1 modules. Gigabit Ethernet is planned for the system, Cisco says.

The 15327 will compete with Redback Networks' newly announced SmartEdge 100, which has higher density on all ports except DS-1. The SE 100 is only in beta now, however, while the ONS 15327 is currently shipping.

The 12400 line and 10G bps line cards will ship in March. The 12410 starts at US$120,000, and the 12416 starts at US$130,000. Cisco did not disclose pricing for the ONS 15327.

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