What is Cisco’s service provider lineup?

Unless you work for a carrier or service provider or a very large enterprise, it is unlikely that you have paid much attention to this level of Cisco’s router offerings. The power of these routers is fascinating, and it’s good to know something about the routers that your Internet traffic (or even voice traffic, credit card transactions, and TV channels) is traversing. So what’s the story with these high-end routers?

Currently, Cisco breaks its router lineup into three categories: Branch, WAN, and Service Provider. The Service Provider category is comprised of six models of routers:

IP/MPLS Core Router

  • CRS-1 (Carrier Routing System): The most powerful Cisco router ever made and designed to be the ideal carrier core router

IP/MPLS Edge Routers

  • ASR 1000 Series: Also part of the WAN router category
  • ASR 9000 Series: The newest member of the family, which I will cover in more detail below
  • 7600 Series: Part of the WAN router category
  • 10000 Series : Ideal for broadband aggregation
  • 12000 XR Series: The new and improved GSR 12000 router (previously the “biggest kid on the block”)

You should note that each of these “series” of routers comes in a variety of form factors (models) and offers a variety of services, processors, and interfaces. For example, the CRS-1 comes with either 4, 8, 16, or 1,152 slots (it boggles the mind that you could have a router with 1,152 slots).

The CRS-1 serves as the CORE router at only a few select points around the country or the world. It routes IP/MPLS packets at a ridiculous rate of up to 92Tbps. It does so running the Cisco IOS XR software, and the CRS-1 is designed to be “always on.”

The other routers listed in the Edge category work at the edge of the core. These routers would be placed at many more IP/MPLS POPs (points of presence) around the country or the world. These edge routers do what edge routers usually do, routing only the traffic that has to go to the core — to the core router. The edge routers are selected based on their ability to meet the special needs of a particular edge network (for example, a broadband router or a router that aggregated ATM data).

Truly, I cannot fully explain the power, reliability, and scalability of the service provider router line in brief. For many whitepapers, articles, case studies, and videos on Cisco’s service provider router lineup, visit Cisco’s Service Provider Router home page.

What does the new Cisco ASR 9000 have to offer?

Recently announced, Cisco’s new Aggregation Service Router (ASR) 9000 is the newest router in the service provider lineup. I can tell you that the first thing I noticed about the Cisco ASR 9000 series routers is just how “cool” they look. I wouldn’t be surprised if these routers didn’t show up on the Starship Enterprise in the next Star Trek movie — that is how futuristic these routers look.

Figure A

The ASR 9000

Here are the features:

  • Two models are available — the ASR 9006 with 10RU, 6 slots, and 3.2Tbps and the ASR 9010 with 21RU, 10 slots, and 6.4Tbps.
  • Extraordinarily low Gpbs/watt power consumption ratio and power supplies only use power as needed by the router
  • Uses the modular XR version of the Cisco IOS
  • Fully distributed performance where packet decisions take place on each line card
  • Fully redundant hardware
  • Many carrier-oriented features designed to make provisioning and daily operation easier

Overall, the ASR 9000 is a very impressive edge router that I would be glad to be connected to, as either a home Web surfer or business enterprise user. If I were a service provider, the ASR 9000 seems to be the edge router of the future and a router that I would consider upgrading aging edge routers to.

For more information on the Cisco ASR 9000 router, visit the Cisco ASR 9000 Web site.

Even if you won’t be buying an ASR 9000 anytime soon, you should take a look at the ASR 1000. It’s part of the Cisco service provider lineup, and it’s also an important part of the enterprise WAN lineup. The Cisco ASR 1000 series features the Cisco QuantumFlow processor, high availability, threat defense, WAN aggregation, Internet Gateway, application optimization, Ethernet WAN, and scalability up to 40Gbps.

Finally, if you are looking for some nerdy fun, Cisco even has a game that you can play, based on your knowledge of the Cisco ASR900 router. To try it out, visit Cisco’s Edge Quest 2 game Web site.

Figure B

Cisco’s EdgeQuest 2 ASR Router Game

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