Cisco Relevant Products/Services on Wednesday took the veil off the Carrier Routing System-X (CRS-X). It's the newest product in the CRS Family, which targets the telecommunications industry.

Available later this year, the CRS-X is a 400 Gigabit per second (Gbps) per slot system that can be expanded to nearly 1 petabit per second in a multi-chassis deployment. That's 10 times the capacity of the original CRS-1, which was introduced in 2004.

"Service providers, large educational and research networks and government agencies around the world are preparing for the next-generation Internet and the increasing demand for video, collaboration and distributed computing," said Surya Panditi, senior vice president and general manager at Cisco's service provider networking group. He also noted the platform is designed with "investment protection Relevant Products/Services for decades and beyond."

Protecting IP Investments

Cisco pointed to multiple challenges facing today's telecom service providers: limited scale, separate optical and Internet Protocol (IP) networks, and architectural constraints. CRS-X aims to help the industry overcome those challenges by making it possible to scale using a 400 Gbps line card with Cisco AnyPort technology.

The line card uses CMOS photonic technology, called Cisco CPAK, to reduce power consumption, reduce the cost of sparing, and for deployment flexibility. Each interface, for example, can be configured for either single port 100 Gigabit Ethernet, 2x40 GE, or 10 x10 GE and either short-, long-, or extended-reach optics by selecting a specific CPAK transceiver.

"With the ability to scale to 400 gigabits per second and highly available architecture, the CRS continues to provide unparalleled investment protection and help ensure SoftBank Mobile's ability to remain one of the leading broadband content and service providers in Japan," said Junichi Miyakawa, executive vice president, board director and CTO, SoftBank Mobile Corp.

The Zettabyte Era

Cisco's most recent Visual Networking Index predicts global IP traffic to grow threefold from 2012 to 2017, reaching an annual run rate of 1.4 zettabytes by the end of 2017. That's up from an annual run rate of 522.8 exabytes at the end of 2012. Cisco said traffic growth and complexity is driving convergence at the core of the network Relevant Products/Services.

"If we going to be in the zettabyte era in the next five years then the carrier cores need to be built in a way to handle that much traffic moving across it," said Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst at ZK Research. He called CRS-X a platform that carriers can deploy Relevant Products/Services today and be grown on for the next decade.

"This is a behemoth of a switch, but no matter how much bandwidth you put out there people are going to use it. We are certainly not going to see a decline of bandwidth," Kerravala said. "So if you believe the VNI forecast -- and I think it's conservative -- the performance capabilities and the flexibility of the CRS-X offers with different interface and different ports that can be mixed and matched makes it a good platform to build a next-gen network on."