In a strategy it has boldly labeled “The Internet for the Future,” Cisco Systems has rolled out a revamp of its end-to-end network infrastructure portfolio.
Boasting support from Comcast, AT&T, CenturyLink, Google, Facebook, Microsoft and The Walt Disney Co., Cisco said its new line of silicon, optics and software will power the 5G, 400G (Gigabits per second) and video streaming ambitions of operators and service providers into the next few decades.
"We are dedicated to transforming the industry to build a new internet for the 5G era," Cisco chairman and CEO Chuck Robbins said, trumpeting the initiative.
Cisco’s broad-ranging announcement is highlighted by Silicon One, a unified, programmable silicon architecture that can work anywhere in the network and be deployed in both fixed and modular form factors. Cisco called Silicon One the “foundation” of its routing portfolio going forward, with an eventual target speed of up to 25 Terabits per second. The first generation of the chip, the Q100, supports a network bandwidth speed of 10.8 Gbps, which is competitive with the 12 Terabytes per second speed of Broadcom’s Tomahawk3 chip.
Developed by Google, the silicon will free Cisco from being dependent on the product cycles of Broadcom and other vendors.
As Cisco noted, multiple types of silicon are used across a network, or even within a single device, driving up the time and cost of developing new features and testing them. A unified programmable approach will improve these economics, the company believes.
"Facebook has been a strong advocate for network disaggregation and open ecosystems, launching key industry initiatives such as the Open Compute Project and the Telecom Infrastructure Project to transform the networking industry," said Najam Ahmad, VP of network engineering at Facebook, supporting Cisco’s press announcement. "Cisco's new Silicon One architecture is aligned with this vision, and we believe this model offers network operators diverse and flexible options through a disaggregated approach.”
Cisco’s new 8000 series router line will be the first platform built on the back of the Silicon One Q100 processor. The 8000 series will support SONiC (Software for Open Networking in the Cloud), an open-source software for managing thousands of network devices released by Microsoft three years ago.
Cisco said Comcast is in ongoing trials with the 8000 series, with the first actual commercial deployment being Saudi Telecom Co. (STC).