Cisco's CRS-X Router Packs 12.8 Tbps

by Sean Michael Kerner

Cisco announces third generation CRS system with 400 Gbps of slot capacity.

When it comes to big, fast routers, Cisco's CRS family has helped to pioneer the space.

Cisco announced the first CRS-1 router in 2004, followed it up with the CRS-3 in March of 2010, and is now expanding the line with the new CRS-X.

The CRS family of routers focus on extreme scale, and the CRS-X is no exception. One standard 7 ft rack chassis CRS-X deployment can deliver up to 12.8 terabits per second. The system can be clustered together in a massive configuration of up to 72 chassis, which would deliver up to 922 Tbps of throughput. The original CRS-1 in a similar clustered configuration could only scale up to 92 Tbps.

The CRS-X delivers such massive scale thanks in part to an enhanced fabric backplane that can enable a new generation of line cards. The CRS-X can now handle up to 400 Gbps per slot, up from only 40 Gbps on the CRS-1 and 140 Gbps on the current CRS-3.crs

There is now also a 4x 100GbE line card that can be plugged into each of the CRS-X router's 16 slots, delivering a total of 64 x 100 GbE ports.

Stephen Liu, director of service provider marketing at Cisco, told Enterprise Networking Planet that the new 100 GbE port density on the CRS-X chassis originated in technology that Cisco gained from the acquisition of optical networking vendor Lightwave in February of 2012.

The Lightwave CPAC is a CMOS-based photonic technology that enables Cisco to reduce the power consumption of the optical transceivers on the CRS-X by up to 70 percent over prior generations. The reduced power consumption in turn allows for the development of denser line cards, with more ports per card.

"There is only a limited amount of physical space on a line card," Liu said.

Liu sees Cisco CRS-X port density as a key point of competitive differentiation.

Cisco's CRS family has competed with Juniper's T-series for years. The most recent big router in the Juniper T-series, the T-4000, debuted around the same time as the CRS-3 back in 2010.


Cisco stresses the upgradability of the CRS family platform. Liu noted that the CRS-3 line cards will plug into the new CRS-X, enabling one degree of investment protection.

Existing CRS users also have the option to upgrade the fabric backplane to convert their chassis to a CRS-X.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at Enterprise Networking Planet and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

This article was originally published on Wednesday Jun 12th 2013