In just three years, experts predict more than 30 billion devices will connect to the Internet, and consumers will expect their communication service providers to magically deliver connected experiences seamlessly, and in real-time. To handle the task, 400GbE connectivity is a necessity and with the newly announced additions to the Cisco Converged SDN Transport architecture. Communication service providers can ready their networks to deliver these new connected experiences quickly, and at a massive scale.

The Foundation

A key building block of the Cisco Converged SDN Transport architecture, the Cisco NCS 5500 Series delivers better performance, higher density, and exceptional efficiency at a lower cost per port. Launched in 2016, the NCS 5500 has already captured the mindset of forward-thinking web providers transitioning to 100GbE. Most of the NCS 5500 initial orders and deployments were for data center-based WAN aggregation routers. Fast forward to four years later, and the NCS 5500 platform has become the go-to peering and aggregation device—down to the access layer—deployed for everything from mobile backhaul to wireline to cable network aggregation.

What’s New: Doubling down on the Next-Generation 400GbE

Part of the NCS 5500 Series family, the NCS 5700, which has the latest ASICs from Broadcom – the StrataDNX™ Jericho2 Series onboard, continues the incredible NCS 5500 Series success story with a new generation of products.
Two-line cards based on the Jericho2 ASICs, and supporting 400GbE interface ports with QSFP-DD optics have been shipping for almost a year now. Their features and benefits include:

  • The Cisco NC57-24DD provides 24 ports of 400GbE, delivering an aggregate bandwidth of 9.6 Tbps. Up to 12 ports can support 400G ZR/ZR+ optics. This line card is well suited to address Core, Data Center Interconnect (DCI), and high-scale aggregation use cases.
  • The Cisco NC57-18DD-SE enhanced scale line card offers 4M+ routes (can scale up to 6M+ routes in the future) in a flexible 30 port QSFP-DD configuration. 18 ports of 400GbE configuration (up to 12 ports can support 400G QSFP-DD ZR/ZR+ optics) or 30 ports in 200 GE or 100 GE mode or as a mix of 100 GE or 200 GE or 400 GE, up to a total of 7.2 Tbps. This line card is particularly well suited for Peering use cases.

Today, we augment the NCS 5700 with two new line cards:

  • The NC57-36H-SE provides 36 ports of 100GbE with Class B timing support on all ports and enhanced routing scale, 4M+ route scale with the future capability to scale beyond 6M+ routes. 6 out of 36 ports support QSFP-DD connectors and can host 100GbE ZR optics.
  • The NC57-36H6D-S provides 24 ports of 100GbE and 12 “flex” ports that can be either 6 ports of 400GbE or 12 ports of 100/200 GbE with MACSec and Class C timing supported on all ports. All 100GbE ports in the top row support 100G ZR optics and all 6 400GbE ports support ZR/ZR+ optics.

We are also introducing a new route processor specifically engineered to meet the stringent requirements of 5G networks. The NC55-RP2-E – the 3rd generation of route processors for the NCS5500/NCS5700 modular chassis – provides tighter time synchronization capabilities than its predecessor. It supports Class-C timing and is well suited for 5G mobile backhaul aggregation and other time-sensitive applications.

A next-generation DC power supply (NC55-PWR-4.4KW-DC) which provides N+N (feed redundancy) as well as N+1 (power supply redundancy) power redundancy for all variants of modular chassis will be available in the first quarter of CY’21. The new NC55-PWR-4.4KW-DC provides 4400W per power-supply unit, 47% more power than the previous generation DC power supply.

New: Fixed Form Factor Chassis

We are also introducing a new fixed-form factor platform that leverages the Jericho2 silicon chipset. The new NCS57B1-6D24H/5D-SE is a 1RU device with 24 ports of 100GbE (QSFP-DD) and 6 ports of 400GbE QSFP-DD. Supporting Class C timing and MACSec, this new compact device is the perfect fit for the most demanding aggregation environments.

Innovation with Jericho2 does not stop there. We also have plans to leverage the Jericho2c and the Jericho2c+ silicon chipsets.

Coming Soon: A 3RU Compact Design

To strengthen the NCS 5500 platform and its place in service providers’ aggregation networks, we will be introducing a next-generation Jericho-2c-powered 3RU device: compact (designed to fit in under 300mm) and flexible with the support of diverse interfaces through MPAs (Modular Port Adaptors) as well as a combination of fixed SFP+, SFP28 and QSFP28 ports up to 2.4 Tbps. This new device also comes with a low power consumption design and supports enhanced features and scale to cater to multiple use cases.

All of these enhancements in speed and capacity are grounded in a platform engineered for flexibility, operational efficiency, TCO savings, and off-the-charts investment protection.

Let’s take a closer look at how the 5700 can benefit you:

  • A simple, flexible migration path
    • Beyond the increased capacity (2.7 times the current NCS 5500 generation), this next generation of high-density line cards can be configured as 400GE, 200GE, or 100GE platforms. Ports can support native 100GE or upgrade to 400GE simply by changing the optics. And by leveraging QSFP56-DD optics technology, communication service provider core routers can run 400GE across four 100GE interfaces (via breakout) talking to four 100GE devices, and so on.
  • A modular database enables extreme customization
    • The internal databases on past generation chips used memory types that were fixed in size to store things like IPv4 and IPv6 prefixes, L2 VPN bridge domains, pseudo-wires, or MPLS labels. With the Cisco 5700’s new Jericho2 NPU, a single modular and configurable database pool can be customized to support each customer’s unique feature scale needs.
    • For example, layer 3-optimized customers that need to store more IP prefixes can create an L3 profile with more LPM memory. Customers that need more L2 services (pseudo-wires with bridge domain), can create a profile with more LEM.
  • Lower TCO and Investment Protection
    • The lean geometric design of the Jericho2 chip (16 nanometers) delivers a lower cost per bit. And for our 5500 series customers, who own the more than 42,000 chassis in production networks, there’s no need to rip and replace. The new line cards, route processor, and power supply can be rolled out on any existing 4-slots, 8-slots, and 16-slots NCS 5500 chassis.
    • Upgrading an NCS 5500 to an NCS 5700 system has never been so easy. Only two upgrades are required for a 5500 chassis to support the new line cards: a higher-speed fabric card (that supports new and older generation line cards), and an upgraded fan to support the thermal and heat dissipation requirements of Jericho2. Everything else stays the same: the route processor, shelf controller, even the power supply. The new 9.6Tbps and 7.2Tbps line cards are backward compatible and can co-exist with everything that we’ve shipped to date.

Broad Optical Support

The broad support of 100G and 400G QSFP-DD ZR/ZR+ optics across the 5500 series portfolio enables communication service providers to address bandwidth demand through a simplified network architecture, e.g. Cisco Routed Optical Networking solution, which reduces both capital and operational expenditures. One critical application of this QSFP-DD form-factor is a high-capacity coherent optical transmission for data center interconnect (DCI) edge networks, which enables peering at a colocation site, aggregation in the access area, and connecting edge computing devices to the metro and long-haul communication service provider networks.

Leveraging IOS XR7

The 5500/5700 systems are not just a hardware play, software matters now more than ever. The NCS 5500/5700 systems leverage Cisco IOS XR7 capabilities including:

  • Secure zero-touch provisioning for simple and cost-effective network operations
  • Industry-leading implementation of Segment Routing for advanced traffic engineering at mass scale
  • EVPN support for simple service delivery
  • Streaming telemetry for granular network visibility
  • Extensive support of data models and APIs for advanced programmability and ease of insertion into customers’ operations
  • Secure boot and signed RPMs for trustworthiness

Cloud-enhanced by design, IOS XR7 benefits from the real-time analytics and operational insights provided by Cisco Crosswork Cloud. Implementation time is reduced by automated software pre-qualification and cloud-based test procedures, and expanded trust insights and BGP route table monitoring prevent hijacking and help improve security.

Automate and Simplify Your Network

Cisco’s implementation of Jericho2 can do so much more in the drive to automate the network and simplify the way you add and manage services, and it all begins at the network architecture and protocols level – where systems like the NCS 5500, and now the 5700, really shine.

To learn more about the new NCS 5700 systems, take a few minutes and tune into Robb Boyd’s great ExplaiNerds Podcast, or visit our website:

Cisco Network Convergence System (NCS) 5500 Series



Kevin Wollenweber

SVP/GM, Cisco Networking

Data Center and Provider Connectivity