Cisco ASR 9000 arrives on zettabyte wave

Cisco Systems has been promising a big Nov. 11 announcement for weeks now, and while it might be hard for any piece of network equipment to live up to that kind of hype, Cisco is attacking doubts with more hype. The company was among those which recently jumped on the idea of the possibility of needing to serve zettabytes (a sextillion bytes, by the way) of Internet traffic within the next few years and is now unveiling gear for helping carriers manage the coming zettaflood.

Cisco today introduced the Aggregation Services Router 9000, the latest addition to its ASR family. The ASR 9000 is an edge router that uses the company's IP over dense wave division multiplexing technology that tops support capacity offered by any previous router by 6.4 Tbps total and about 400 Gbps per slot. The ASR 9000 also includes Cisco's new Advanced Video Services module to support faster video streaming, content caching, ad insertion, fast channel changing and error correction at the network edge.

Doug Webster, senior director of service provider marketing at Cisco Systems, also touted the $80,000 unit's reduced carbon footprint, accomplished with a modular power architecture and a new, patent-pending design for side-to-back ventilation. 

Cisco's press release says, "It has been estimated that for every 6.4 Terabit unit deployed, service providers can save the carbon equivalent of 88 tons of coal, 164 trans-Pacific passenger flights or 16 around-the-world car trips per year when compared to comparable competitive offerings."

Cisco has armed itself with loads of analogies for how big the zettaflood will be and how the ASR 9000 will help carriers deal with it. Seattle Discovery Institute fellow Bret Swanson, the first person to promote the exabyte as a traffic measurement, earlier this year mentioned the likelihood of a zettabyte of traffic by 2015, but other people and companies since then have jumped on the prediction, suggesting it will happen as early as 2012. "Service providers need to make a decision about this," Webster said. "They will always need to be conscientious about their investment decisions, but traffic is growing at a rate where they need to purchase this."

Japan's Softbank is among the first service providers interested, Webster said, and there have also been reports that AT&T has shown interest in the ASR 9000.

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