Cisco has introduced a new router with a maximum capacity of 6.4 terabits per second (Tbps), coupled with the ability to cache content. The company said several service providers are using the new Aggregation Services Router (ASR) 9000, but the only company identified as a customer is Softbank of Japan.

While Cisco declines to describe the unit as a combination router/server, the fact is that with a maximum 4 terabytes of cache memory, the new edge router is capable not only of serving on-demand content – for Internet-based content and presumably also for mainstream VOD services alike, but also of ad insertion.

The massive capacity is the main selling point, however. Cisco is touting the system as a paving the way for the “zettabyte era.” 

The new ASR 9000 comes in either a six-slot and 10-slot chassis. Each slot is rated for 400 Gigabits per slot. Cisco claims to it is the first system to quadruple the industry-typical 100 Gbps/slot.

“Cable operators have network hierarchies,” said Len LuPriore, a Cisco senior manager, “going from headends to super headends. Congestion from the headend to the super headend? That’s what the 6.4 terabits solves.”

Whether anyone is currently experiencing congestion in that part of their networks now is up in the air, but with Internet traffic growing at eye-popping rates unanticipated even three short years ago, the ASR 9000 provides enough capacity for the next 10- to 12 years, LuPriore assured.

The ASR 9000 is designed with converged networks in mind, LuPriore explained, ready with both capacity and support for a variety of protocols that will allow service providers to deliver content to and from devices on both fixed and mobile networks. Providing options for content delivery – in both directions, upstream and downstream – is what’s driving the industry toward high-capacity systems like the ASR 9000.

For example, ASR 9000 Series brings six times the capacity of competing products to Carrier Ethernet backhaul, according to Cisco. Moreover, every Cisco ASR 9000 line card is SyncE-ready, which means that it inherently works with cell site routers to deliver seamless mobile handoff capabilities, avoiding the need to dedicate slots for additional synchronization cards.

“Earlier generations of edge routers were not designed to address the massive growth IP video is driving across mobile and wireline networks.  Softbank Corporation is looking for innovative solutions that enable us to reduce costs, keep pace and converge our broadband, mobile and business networks onto common infrastructure,” said Junishi Miyakawa, executive vice president, director and CTO of Softbank Mobile, Softbank Bb, Softbank Telecom. “The Cisco ASR 9000 offers investment protection, massive bandwidth capacity and excellent services capability in a highly reliable and efficient design that gives us the flexibility to build a truly leading IP NGN network for our 4G mobile and video services.”

The Cisco ASR 9000 incorporates the Cisco Advanced Video Services Module (AVSM), a Cisco innovation the company says enables terabytes of streaming capacity at the aggregation edge while simultaneously offering content caching, ad insertion, fast channel change, and error correction.

Cisco AVSM eliminates the need for standalone content delivery network elements and inherits all the high-availability characteristics of the router, which optimizes the network insertion point for advanced content services and moves content sourcing closer to the consumer.  Fast channel change and onboard error correction for both unicast and multicast video traffic helps ensure that errors can be detected by any set-top box (STB) and retransmitted within milliseconds to maintain a transparent visual experience.

The company said it designed the system with modular power. The number of the system’s power supplies (up to 6) scales with system capacity, allowing the provider to tier the amount of power used.  The company has some impressive carbon-savings comparisons, for those interested.

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