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Cisco touts world’s first unified networking chip architecture

Written by Thu 12 Dec 2019

Microsoft and Facebook already using first-gen “Silicon One” chips in production

Cisco has entered the silicon routing space with the launch of what the company claims is the industry’s first universally adaptable networking chip architecture.

The networking giant said the new single-chip architecture, dubbed Silicon One, will handle data far better than processors currently found in networking and switching gear, as well as providing the versatility needed to support complex new technologies like 10G and adaptive cyber security.

Cisco, which has taken five years and spent almost one billion dollars to develop Silicon One, said the architecture will be at the core of its routing portfolio and a central pillar of its “Internet for the Future” strategy, that will also see the company invest in optics and software in a bid to build a ‘new internet’.

“We are dedicated to transforming the industry to build a new internet for the 5G era,” said Chuck Robbins, chairman and CEO of Cisco. “Our latest solutions in silicon, optics and software represent the continued innovation we’re driving that helps our customers stay ahead of the curve and create new, ground-breaking experiences for their customers and end-users for decades to come.”

Today, a wide range of silicon is used in networking infrastructure and devices, which can lead to lengthy and expensive feature testing. With Silicon One, Cisco is trying to consolidate the specialised silicon found in networking gear, thereby reducing operational costs and time-to-market for new services.

“Cisco is changing the economics of powering the Internet, innovating across hardware, software, optics and silicon to help its customers better manage the operational costs to function on a larger scale for the next phase of the Internet,” said Ray Mota, CEO and principal analyst at ACG Research. “As we move to 2020, the timing of delivering operational efficiency will be vital.”

Cisco also debuted the first series of routers based on the new architecture. The Cisco 8000 Series is powered by a new cloud-based IOS XR7 operating system, is optimised for 400 Gbps and higher, and supports 10.8 Tbps in a single rack unit. Cisco claimed the Silicon One-powered routers will become the “backbone of the internet for decades”.

While Cisco’s first-gen Silicon One chip, Q100, provides a speedy 10.8 Tbps, Broadcom’s 2-year-old Tomahawk3 provides up to 12.8 Tbps.

Nevertheless, Cisco has already received support for the new chips from Microsoft, Facebook and Google — operators of the largest data centres in the world.

“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, vice president, Network Engineering at Facebook.

“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.”

Written by Thu 12 Dec 2019


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