Cisco CRS-3 announcement review

Cisco has an excellent marketing machine, and successfully attracted the attention of the financial as well as technical press on 9 March 2010 - buying on the rumor produced a gain in the CSCO stock price from $24 to $26.

What was announced was the upgrade path for its CRS-1, the big core router which carries much of the backbone Internet traffic. After the announcement there was a good deal of griping along the lines of 'is that all ? It's just more of the same ..'

The important thing to notice is that although the sales numbers for these core routers are small, that they enable the sales, not only of the hardware which connects to them but of the businesses which sell applications and services which run data traffic over them. Having a Cisco road map for multiple 100GE connections is important to companies like Google, Amazon, and Microsoft who run many 10GE links in parallel between data centers.

ZTE is the most recent entrant to the this market, with a router supporting up to 1024 100G interfaces.
Juniper, Huawei, Alcatel-Lucent, Force-10 and Brocade are the other established competitors.

Actual new things :

Chassis Max power when all slots are full and running traffic
4 slot 3080W
8 slot 6160W
16 slot 12320W
24 slot fabric 7660W

Line cards
Both line cards have up to 8GB route table memory and 1 GB of packet buffer memory per side (2 GB total per line card [ingress and egress])
Forwarding processor 'supports up to 8 queues per port'
Modular services card 'supports up to 64,000 queues and 12,000 interfaces in hardware'

Interface modules
1 port 100GE
14 port 10GE LAN/WAN PHY
20 port 10GE LAN/WAN PHY

Power system

Putting big routers together requires assembling a kit of parts. For the CRS-3, the kit is composed of interface modules (to which the external network copper or fiber cables connect); the forwarding and or modular service routing line cards which decide which packet goes where, fabric switching cards which connect the other cards, and one or more chassis into which to put all the hardware, along with power supplies and fans. To get beyond the 4.48 Tbps switching capacity listed as the performance figure for a single 16 slot chassis, a separate fabric card chassis is required as a second stage switch, connecting multiple chassis.

CSCO press release
List of CRS-3 and CRS-1 data sheets
Analyst position paper
ZTE, Shenzen - ZXR10 T8000 anouncement
Light Reading comments

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