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Juniper: 'We beat Cisco to 100G Ethernet'

'Or at least we will'

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Juniper has unveiled what it calls the industry's first 100 Gigabit Ethernet router interface card.

Last year, Cisco teamed with Comcast to test a 100-Gbit per second interface for its CRS-1 router. But Juniper says that wasn't real 100-Gbit Ethernet, and it wants you to know that it's the first company to actually distribute a press release announcing a 100GE interface for commercial use.

Juniper expects production networks will adopt the new interface card by the end of the year. Demos, the company tells us, are slated for the summer - i.e. real soon.

The new card will slide into Juniper's T1600 Core Router and will initially be used for long-distance transmissions within network service providers. "The logical place for it - and certainly the first implementations we'll see - will be in large-scale service providers connecting metro networks to each other across long-haul transport networks," says Alan Sardella, senior product marketing manager in Juniper's high-end systems business unit.

Judging from Juniper's press release, Verizon is poised to actually use the thing. The US telco giant plans to commercially deploy 100GE sometime next year. "Verizon is a key customer," Sardella tells us. "They're one of many tier one service providers interested in this product."

The T1600 debuted in the fourth quarter of 2007, and to date, Juniper has shipped more than 500 units - according to Juniper. According to Synergy Research Group, the company controls about 36 per cent of the core routing market.

Today, you can offer 100 Gigbits a second from a single slot by aggregating multiple interfaces on the T1600. But, says Sardella, a single 100 Gigabit interface "means it's a simpler topology, it's simpler to configure, it's more maintainable, and you get easier operations."

Cisco ran its 100GE router interface test back in June of last year, and Juniper was unimpressed. "Cisco's demo was far less a demonstration of a 100-Gig routing interface than ours is. What Cisco did was use ribbon fiber to aggregate eight 10-Gig interfaces, and they put that aggregated traffic into a transponder that was 100-Gigabit capable.

"It did not have the forwarding engine capability to process 100 Gigabits of traffic. As far as a router is concerned, if you don't have that, you don't really have anything yet."

Juniper argues that with the recent rise of the mobile internet and so-called cloud computing, you need an interface like, well, the one it just announced. "Mobile everywhere - people wanting everything on those handsets - is a big driver," says Sardella. "But so is cloud computing, because there you have unpredictable usage of the network.

"You might have people using computing resources across the network - storage resources, memory capabilities. To deliver those services, you are using variable amounts of bandwidth that might fluctuate from one day to the next. To be able to address that unpredictability, the most straightforward thing to do it is to have higher speed interfaces."

The IEEE has yet to finalize the 802.3ba standard for client-side 100GE, but it's expected to do so this summer, and ratification will likely follow in the summer of 2010. ®

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