ALU storms into Cisco's turf with 400Gbps processor
Superfast platform will appear in core routers for carriers early next year, moving the performance goalposts again
Published: 29 June, 2011
Alcatel-Lucent has made an impressive recovery from its previous torpor in the core networks market, but much of its recent growth has been in edge routers. Now it has stormed to the heart of the carrier network with its FP3 400Gbps network processor, which will be incorporated into its routers early next year. This gives ALU the firepower to join the 'huge fast router' race initiated by Cisco and joined by Juniper and Huawei, which will support the coming mushrooming of fixed and mobile data, video and web services.
The FP3, and the products it will power, represent ALU's response to recent high end launches from Cisco and Juniper, and its most aggressive bid for the network core of tier one service providers. Carriers will invest significantly in core network infrastructure over the coming few years to support next generation internet, 4G and video services. While not promising actual contracts, three major operators did endorse ALU's approach, with Verizon, British Telecom and Japan's NTT all voicing support.
At its launch, the vendor said the FP3 is capable of handling 70,000 simultaneous HD video streams or 8.4m 'cloud sessions'. Initially it will be incorporated in 100Gbps Ethernet interface routers, namely the 7750 Service Router, improving the product's density and cost. Then it will be the basis of future 400Gbps offerings.
Line cards for the 7750, based on FP3, will be commercially available in 2-port 100GE, 6-port 40GE, and 20-port 10GE configurations in early 2012. ALU is working with various silicon and technology partners including Samsung, NetLogic Microsystems, Micron, GSI Technology, Cypress and Broadcom.
'Typically, what the industry has done is take a 10Gbps network processor and port it to a 10Gbps interface,' ALU executive Lindsay Newell told ConnectedPlanet, while a 40Gbps interface uses four 10Gbps processors. Using a single processor improves power consumption, efficiency and density, as well as providing 'a clear path to 400Gbps as it becomes standardized'.
The 100Gbps Ethernet router interfaces were standardized last year and are starting to be seen in commercial equipment. Researchers at Dell'Oro Group expect them to grow by 200% between now and 2015.
The FP3 is the first announced 400Gbps network processor in the industry, but may not be premature as many analysts expect this speed to come to market more quickly than previously anticipated because of the demands on carriers' wired and wireless IP networks.