Core Routers Grow With the Internet

As Internet usage continues to grow, so too does the need for the big core routers
that power bandwidth growth. For networking giant Cisco, core routing comes in the form
of its Huge Fast Router (HFR), the CRS-1 (Carrier Routing System) that debuted five years ago with
1.2 Tbps of throughput capacity.

Rival vendor, Juniper Network has its own flagship core router, the T1600 which has 1.6 Tbps of

As the CRS-1 turns five this week, Cisco is touting the fact it has shipped more than
3,200 units to more than 300 customers in more than 40 countries. Considering that the
CRS-1 (depending on configuration) ranges in price from $500,000 to $1 million per
router, Cisco’s CRS-1 numbers are no small feat, in terms of revenues and

The growth of the big routing platforms comes as the service providers continue to
face budget and bandwidth pressures on their networks. It’s a far cry from what the
market was saying in 2004 when the CRS-1 first came out.

“When we debuted the CRS-1 in 2004, there were a number of skeptics that thought that
due to the immense power of the platform that no more than 50 units and no more than 5
customers would ever buy the unit,” Doug Webster senior director of service provider
marketing at Cisco told “Fast forward five years and we’ve been
able to sell far more. In fact, there have been some weeks where we’ve shipped more than
50 units in a week.”

For Juniper’s T1600, adoption and growth has also been respectable. Juniper’s Luc
Ceuppens, vice president of product marketing in the high-end systems business unit, told that 425 T1600’s were sold in the first year of availability.

The need for the big routers from Juniper and Cisco is being driven by big needs from
their service provider customers.

“The network itself has increased dramatically over the last five years with a more
than eight times increase in traffic volumes,” Cisco’s Webster said. “The network today
is different than it was five years ago and it will be different five years from now. But
the CRS-1 is a platform we invested over a half billion ‘dollars’ to create and over
800,000 hours of engineering time.”

Webster added that the market has proved that there is a need for the capacity that a
CRS-1 provides. Demand for mobility is also helping to drive demand for increased
capacity in the network core. Webster noted that 3G/4G wireless services need a backbone
transport and as carriers scale up their wireless deployments they need to scale up their
core capacity as well.

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