Cisco nV Virtualizes ASR Router Management

Cisco is expanding its routing portfolio with a pair of new ASR 9000 series routers. The new routers include a new network virtualization (nV) feature that enables multiple routers to be managed as one.

The new ASR 9922 and 9000v are the latest models in the ASR 9000 platform which first debuted in 2008.

The new platforms expand scale and manageability with the ability to handle over 1900 routers. According to Cisco, the ASR 9922 can handle up to 96 Terabits per second of throughput, though that’s not with a single chassis.

“Two 9922 units that manage 1,920 – the maximum number possible—of Cisco ASR 9000v units,” Stephen Liu, director of service provider marketing routing and switching solutions for Cisco told “Together they function, operate, and are managed as a single system.

The ability to manage the 1,920 routers is enabled by way of a network virtualization feature that has Cisco has dubbed, ‘nV’. The nV feature enables a service provider to have an ASR 9000 at the top of a network and then have a cluster of 9000v’s that can be connected to create one logical system.

Liu explained that the nV capability is something that is built-in to the new ASR 9000 unit by way of the Cisco IOS XR operating system. IOS XR is Cisco’s microkernel-based operating system that was originally introduced with the Cisco CRS-1 core router back in 2004.

Having the ability to manage multiple units as one is an approach that might end up on other Cisco routing platforms at some future point. Liu noted that Cisco views the nV approach as one that could be of value to other platforms as well, but so far they have only announced it on the Cisco ASR 9000 series.

The ASR 9000 product line was actually the second platform in the ASR series that Cisco originally announced. The ASR 1000 debuted in 2008 as well, powered by a new silicon technology called QuantumFlow. At the time, Cisco said that they had invested $250 million into the platform. Quantum Flow is also part of the expanded ASR 9000 family, though Cisco isn’t yet providing full details.

“We haven’t announced the silicon components of this platform,” Liu said.

That said, Liu noted that the Cisco ASR 9000 leverages members of the Cisco QuantumFlow family of processors.

“We’ve enhanced the performance of these for some of the new hardware but we chose not to highlight this fact in order to put more spotlight on the Cisco nV technology,” Liu said.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at, the news service of, the network for technology professionals.

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