Thursday, February 28, 2008

Cisco will launch a 40-core network processor

Cisco will present a 40-core network processor that seems designed to upgrade its CRS-1 core router.
Cisco won't actually reveal what it plans to do with the QuantumFlow processor, which the company says it has spent $100 million to develop over the past five years, until March 4. That's when Cisco has scheduled the announcement of a product for enterprises and carriers that it calls a breakthrough innovation to boost network performance for those using interactive applications.

The only stats Cisco is releasing for now about the processor are that it has 40 cores and 800 transistors, leaving industry watchers to speculate on what the technology is all about.

"Network processors are integrated into all manner of network devices," says Mark Lewis, a technology consultant and blogger for Network World's Cisco Subnet community, "including edge and core routers, network security appliances, and switching platforms, but ... it is not yet clear into precisely which network platforms the QuantumFlow Processor will be integrated."

"Wow," says Bob Wheeler, an analyst with The Linley Group, "that's a big, honking processor. It sounds like a core router processor, but without knowing more, I'm not 100 percent sure about that. I doubt it would be for a Catalyst 6500 switch."

The CRS-1 supports 40Gbits/s per port, and perhaps the new processor could anchor a card that boosts that to 100Gbit/s, Wheeler says.

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