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Cisco facelifts all-purpose routers

'Borderless networks'

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Cisco has squeezed out an heir to its long-in-the-tooth Integrated Services Routers product line after sitting pretty with the old kit since 2005.

The company's new second-generation routers (ISR G2) have been re-architected to better accommodate a growing trend of branch offices beaming in more video-conferencing, virtualization services, and other kinds of rich media over the network, Cisco said. It calls the ISR G2 family the first step in a new "borderless networks" strategy — marketing whale song that admittedly beats the poignantly annoying "data center 3.0" campaign of 2007.

Tailored for video, Cisco says the new routers provide up to five times the bandwidth and processing speeds as the first-generation ISRs. They replace the ISR G1 range's single-core architecture with Intel multi-core processors and bumps up WAN performance to up to 150 Mbps (from 45 Mbps). While the new kit comes with support for encoding and decoding video, it also provides up to 1TB of on-board video storage per module.

On the software side, the ISR G2 line provides a single Universal IOS Image, letting Cisco use a license key to unlock features when purchased rather than through adding new hardware. Cisco reckons that will simplify deployment. It also said the majority of prior generation ISR interfaces can be carried over to the new routers.

The routers come in three flavors. The 1900 ISR G2 (succeeding the 1800 ISR), the 2900 ISR G2 (succeeding the 2800 ISR), and the 3900 ISR G2 (succeeding the 3800 ISR). The older platforms, however, will continue to be sold for the next couple of years in the transition. The different models range in their port configurations and features offered — which Cisco breaks down in a handy chart here.

Clearly, the company thinks the old kit still has some steam despite the age of the platform. Cisco calls the original Integrated Services Routers "one of the fastest-selling networking products ever created" with more than 7 million units in use worldwide.

The ISR G2s will begin shipping in November. ®

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