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Cisco updates high-density enterprise router

Almost hidden in the networking giant's latest round of carrier-class gear, the new 7604 10 Gigabit Ethernet router updates several features on the vendor's "workhorse" modular platform.

Cisco Systems Inc. today is unveiling a slew of new gear for service providers, but the networking equipment maker is also hoping to catch the eye of enterprises looking for high-density Ethernet and wide area network functionality in a single product.

In addition to the debut of the carrier-class XR 12000 Series router and related port adapters and interface processors, the San Jose, Calif.-based vendor is launching the 7604 10 Gigabit Ethernet router.

The 7604 offers four slots and five racks in a modular chassis, accommodating line cards from DS0 to OC-48. It's intended for enterprises requiring WAN aggregation at the edge of the network.

The device, along with others in the 7600 Series, also offers the latest version of Cisco's Internetwork Operating System (IOS), release 12.2.18SXE, which offers hierarchical quality of service (QoS), enhanced IP traffic prioritization and dynamic multipoint VPN security support.

Kelly Ahuja, vice president of marketing for Cisco's carrier core and multiservice business unit, said the 7604 is ideal for enterprises bridging an Ethernet or low-speed circuit with GigE or OC-48, uplinking to a service provider.

"I can take one unit and connect it to multiple campus Ethernet switches aggregating users or servers," Ahuja said, "and at the same time I could have external links connecting other branch offices or connect uplinks."

Jeff Ogle, principal analyst of carrier infrastructure for Sterling, Va.-based research firm Current Analysis, said the key improvement is the 7604's increased port density, which helps a company protect its investment.

Overall, Ogle said the 7600 Series has earned the label "workhorse" because even though it's not excessively large, it's proven over the years to be a capable and stable product.

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"If you go back a good eight years or so, it was the right sized product for the right time," Ogle said. "Periodically [Cisco] comes out with enhancements, such as new ports and interfaces, but they do so without requiring a forklift upgrade."

Cisco said the 7604 will be available by the end of April. The base configuration, which includes the chassis, supervisor engine and power supply, will be priced starting at $34,000.

For service providers, the new XR 12000 Series routers offer speeds in excess of 10 Gbps and the latest version of IOS XR software. A product of the company's work on the CRS-1 Carrier Routing System, Cisco says IOS XR improves scalability and adds self-healing capabilities.

Additionally, the vendor's new shared port adapters (SPAs) and SPA interface processors (SIPs) allow 12000 Series and 7600 Series customers to mix and match various interface types within the same slot, making for a more efficient use of space. For example, a provider could use one SIP card and attach various interface types, such as Ethernet and DS-3.

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