Cisco updates its ASR 9000 edge routing platform with new silicon, software

Cisco's new ASR 9000 line cards can be used in previous generations of the router platform. (Cisco)

Cisco has geared up its ASR 9000 edge routing platform with new silicon and automation software to help carriers meet their 5G and multicloud needs.

The fourth generation of Cisco's flagship service provider edge routing platform features a new networking processor that powers 100GE line cards to boost network performance. Cisco's Sumeet Arora, senior vice president of engineering, service provider network systems, said in an interview with FierceTelecom that the ASR 9000 is equipped with the company's IOS XR software to help enable automation. The IOS XR software works in conjunction with Cisco's Crosswork Network Automation portfolio that was announced in February.

"All that software comes ready to support the fourth generation network processors," Arora said. "So service providers can not only improve their capital efficiency, they can also improve their operational efficiency. Things like provisioning, bringing up the system, collating parts, avoiding routing loops, all those areas where humans typically make mistakes can be automated."

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Since it was introduced 10 years ago, more than 4,500 service provider, enterprise and public sector customers around the world have bought the Cisco ASR 9000 edge routing platform to manage and deliver billions of connections over their networks.

Arora said the fourth-generation ASR 9000, which has been in the works for three and half years, was designed to meet the needs of 5G services and applications as well as the demands of multicloud environments. Multicloud is driving traffic from long haul networks into metro networks, which means peering becomes more distributed, according to Arora. The ASR 9000 also has improved security features and power reduction savings.

According to Cisco, 5G connections are expected to grow from 2.3 million in 2020 to more than 25 million in 2021, which is more than 1000% growth. Multicloud services are accelerating, driven by shifts in content, compute and cloud requirements. Nearly 850 zettabytes of data will be generated by all people, machines and things by 2021, up from 220 ZB in two years ago.

"We work very closely with our service provider customer base and the main goal here is to solve their biggest problems and focus on their business outcomes," Apora said. "So what we are working on is a full architectural approach for service providers leveraging all of our technology.

"We started the platform at 40 gigabits per second on the line cards. We're announcing an upgrade of existing platforms to 3.2 terabits per second. From a bandwidth perspective, that's clearly a huge cost per bit reduction."

As part of the new ASR 9000 routing platform, Cisco is now offering network-wide pay-as-you-grow license pooling, allowing ports on the new generation line cards to be activated on-demand, within deployed or new ASR 9000 chassis.

Customers no longer have to forecast capacity and purchase licenses on a site-by-site basis. Licenses can be dynamically allocated as needed across global networks, optimizing capex spend and simplifying capacity planning with a full network view.

"We have more than 90,000 systems out there and we should be crossing 100,000 soon," Arora said. "Let's say service providers are running the third generation line cards in their systems. They get to keep the existing installed base, their chassis, and they can put in the new line card and upgrade the bandwidth. When they do that they get a massive increase in density and in their capital efficiencies."

RELATED: Juniper beefs up MX platform with new silicon, more programmability

In June, Juniper Networks announced a major reboot to its MX routing platform, which included new silicon, more programmability and more chassis options. Those upgrades marked the fifth generation of the MX platform, which was originally introduced in 2007. 

"I don't like to talk about the competition, but I would like to highlight that we are offering this upgrade on the entire installed base of ASR 9000s, and that is a big differentiator," Apora said. "Cisco is no longer working with our customers at the box level. We are now working with them at the network level. We are working with them across the entire architecture of the entire end-to-end infrastructure."