On December 11th 2019, Cisco announced a set of new offerings – silicon, optics, software, and routing systems – specifically designed to power the Internet for the future. In my time at Cisco, I’ve had the privilege of launching a few notable routing systems – the ASR 9000, the NCS 6000, and the NCS 5500, but introducing the new Cisco 8000 Series is an exceptional moment, both for my team and me. It’s the result of a bold decision we made five years to totally rethink our approach and revisit every assumption we were taking for granted when designing new devices.
We are thrilled to add the Cisco 8000 Series to our routing portfolio. For our customers, it complements the NCS 5500 Series, resulting in a broader choice of 100G and 400G-optimized systems. And for those speculating about the future of the NCS 5500 Series, it is not going away; we continue to strengthen our investments in these platforms. Our customer’s technology and business needs vary, and a routing portfolio that includes both the Cisco 8000 Series and the NCS 5500 Series can best address those needs. This fact was recently confirmed with a TCO analysis from ACG Research, demonstrating that each of the platforms has an economic sweet spot.
This decision to build the new Cisco 8000 Series was indisputable when we looked at IP traffic projections. The Internet traffic carried by service providers’ networks is growing exponentially, at an annual rate of 20-30%. The growth is fueled by connections – more subscribers and devices connecting to the network, and by the type of interactions, as enterprises’ push to store more data in the cloud. Meanwhile, video, a particularly bandwidth-hungry service, continues its colossal growth rate. All this means that the massive scale at which service providers operate today will grow even larger in the years to come, and it’s the very near future when the current network economics start to break.
There was no time to wait. We needed to think differently and lay the groundwork for new routing economics and new routing systems that would bring not only a quantum leap in total capacity but also deliver unprecedented economics efficiency.
With a clean-sheet design, we had the latitude to innovate across multiple dimensions – down to the “molecular” level of routers, the silicon. The Cisco 8000 Series is the result of this approach; it redefines routing with unprecedented petabit scale, trustworthiness, and cloud-enhanced technology.
Designed to build the Internet for the future
We introduced fixed and modular form-factor systems, respectively the Cisco 8200 Series and the Cisco 8800 Series.
The Cisco 8200 Series uses the new Cisco Silicon One Q100 as a Router-on-Chip (RoC) to deliver full routing functionality with a single ASIC per router. The RoC architecture supports for large forwarding tables, deep buffers, more flexible packet operations, and enhanced programmability, which differentiates it from System-on-Chip (SoC) switches.
There are 2 fixed platforms – each of these platforms providing 10.8Tb/s of network bandwidth with very lower power consumption – 4 Watts/100G:
- The Cisco 8201 is a 1RU fixed configuration with 24x400GbE and 12x100GbE ports
- The Cisco 8202 is a 2RU fixed configuration with 12x400GbE and 60x100GbE ports
In one single rack unit, the Cisco 8201 router delivers the routing capacity that once required a full rack and 15 times the power only five years ago. This steep function in efficiency enables broader market possibilities for scenarios such as CDNs, 5G sites, and colocation as 10.8 Tb/s routers can be deployed in space and power footprints once reserved for only 100s of Gb/s.
The 8800 Series provides the highest bandwidth via modular chassis with a redundant control plane and switch fabric:
- The Cisco Router 8808 is an 8-slot, 16RU chassis initially delivering up to 115.2 Tb/s, equivalent to 288×400 GbE ports at full line-rate
- The Cisco Router 8812 is a 12-slot, 21RU chassis delivering up to 172.8 Tb/s, equivalent to 432×400 GbE ports at full line-rate
- The Cisco Router 8818 is an 18-slot, 33RU chassis delivering up to 259.2 Tb/s, equivalent to 648×400 GbE ports at full line-rate
All these systems come without oversubscription, with full fabric redundancy, and power efficiency of 11 Watts/100G.
Designed for handling future traffic growth
The platforms shipping today support 100GbE and 400GbE connectivity at mass scale, but that’s not the end of it. The Cisco 8800 systems are engineered to deliver the capacity service providers require for at least the next decade.
Unlike platforms that support 400GbE connectivity at the end of their lifecycle, the Cisco 8800 Series routers are delivering 400GbE at the very beginning of its lifecycle. The extra space required to cool advanced optics, highly efficient power supplies and fans, and electrical connectors have been anticipated for future expansion into higher densities using 800GbE, 1.6TbE, and beyond.
Designed for cloud-enhanced network operations
Service providers need network reporting and analytics services to complement their internal network optimization and automation infrastructure.
The design of the Cisco 8000 Series incorporates cloud-enhanced network operations and currently leverages the following SaaS offerings:
- Crosswork Network Insight to assess network routing health
- Crosswork Trust Insight to gather network evidence, and visualize/report on trustworthy infrastructure
- Crosswork Qualification Environment to automate qualification of new OS releases in a custom-fit environment
With cloud-based SaaS services, deployment can happen quickly with low operational costs. And these services provide continuous updates enabling service providers to always operate with the most up-to-date and critical features.
Designed for trustworthy critical infrastructure
Over the last decade, network attacks have become more sophisticated. Threats continue to manifest in software, but physical tampering with hardware infrastructure is also increasing.
The best security practices demand multiple layers of defense. Trustworthy systems are no different.
- Trustworthy starts by building hardware with critical infrastructure outcomes in mind; this requires tamper-proof hardware that serves as the root of trust, what we call the Trust Anchor module, which can prevent tampering with chipsets and secure storage. Cisco Chip Protection, introduced in the new Cisco 8000 Series routers, enables ‘hardware fingerprints’ and detects any physical tampering with components, like the modification or replacement of a chip (CPU, ASICs, etc…) on the router
- The next layer involves booting hardware from a known authentic image and booting the OS from the root of trust. Cisco Chip Protection expands the measurement of hardware integrity as part of the Cisco Secure Boot process
- Finally, systems stay online for long durations of time, which requires run-time checks to verify against known good behaviors of running processes. With the Trust Anchor module and Cisco Chip Protection, irregularities can be rapidly identified and flagged
Embraced by Tier-1 service and cloud providers
Contrary to some of our competitors who “future” announce new platforms, the Cisco 8000 Series is available today.
We are very pleased to see that the Cisco 8000 Series is already gaining traction with some major service providers:
- STC, the leading telecom services provider in the Middle East, Northern Africa region, marks the first customer deploying the new technology
- On-going trials include Comcast and NTT Communications among others
Hyperscale cloud operators are also very interested in the Cisco 8000 Series. Microsoft has noted how important the support of SAI (Switch Abstraction Interface) is as it rapidly onboards new systems, using the advanced programmability and scale that Cisco Silicon One delivers:
“Cisco’s support for SAI on Cisco 8000 modular routing platforms is a major
step forward enabling the SONiC community to combine the latest
innovations in silicon and port speed with the density and power efficiencies
delivered in chassis-based systems. This greatly contributes to the
continuous scale up efforts of cloud infrastructure providers in the face of
unceasing traffic growth.”
Yousef Khalidi , CVP, Azure Networking, Microsoft Corp