By Jon Tullett
Cisco is moving ahead in the optical routing market with a new high-density backbone router.
Cisco has unveiled a new high-end optical router that will allow service providers to push new services to the edge of metropolitan networks, or allow enterprises to provision IP services over their fibre backbones.
The 7600 OSR (Optical Services Router) is based on Cisco's Catalyst 6500 LAN switch. It uses the Catalyst 6500's 256 Gbps switching fabric and nine-slot NEBS-compliant chassis to support a raft of new service modules designed for service provider point-of-presence that consolidate metro optical transport with IP-enabled services.
NEBS (Network Equipment Building System) is a set of safety and operational guidelines devised by US safety organisations.
Modules for the 7600 include OC (Optical Carrier) packet-over-SONET, ATM, Gigabit Ether WAN, serial WAN and the usual variety of LAN Ethernet. Some WAN modules from the 7500 series are compatible with the new platform. Sources say Cisco also plans to add 10G bit/sec Ethernet and OC-192c POS interfaces to the OSR
The 7600 OSR features Cisco's Parallel Express Forwarding (PXF) reprogrammable ASICs processors for forwarding performance of millions of packets per second. PXF is designed to enable deployment of new Cisco IOS services for Multi-protocol Label Switching (MPLS), quality-of-service, security, policing, traffic shaping and filtering. With PXF, the OSR can filter 30 million packet/sec and perform access control list filtering, traffic policing and shaping at line-rate, Cisco says. The 7600 is the third Cisco product to support PXF processors. The other two are the 7200 router and the 10000 Edge Services Router, which is targeted at high-density leased line T-1/T-3 aggregation.
Cisco is not yet supporting MPLS on the 7600, however - a shortcoming noted by analysts. MPLS is a core component of quality of service networks.
"The lack of MPLS support in the 7600 was surprising, particularly given Cisco's key role in leading that charge," market tracker Current Analysis stated in a recent report. "Cisco has let a Tier 3 competitor - Riverstone - beat the company on the MPLS it has worked so diligently on."