Cisco bets on new programmable 400G bps processor

The advent of software-defined networking and increasing traffic volume puts new demands on networking equipment

Cisco Systems has unveiled what it calls the world's most scalable and programmable network processor, the nPower X1, which handles 400G bps to keep up with increasing Internet traffic volume.

The architecture of networking hardware and software is going through some big changes thanks to the advent of software-defined networking, which has the potential to make networks more flexible and reduce operational expenditure. The X1 was built to allow administrators to reprogram its functionality on the fly, according to Cisco.

The networking processor has also been built handle the increasing number of transactions on networks thanks to machine-to-machine applications and larger Internet traffic volume from video, including Ultra High-Definition, or 4K, content.

The X1 offers eight times the throughput and one quarter the power per bit compared with Cisco's previous network processor, and with the help of 4 billion transistors, a single processor does all packet processing, traffic management and input/output functions, according to Cisco.

The X1 is the first in a family of processors and the company is well along in the development of even more advanced devices based on the same architecture, according to Nikhil Jayaram, the vice president of Engineering at Cisco responsible for the development of network processors and ASICs used in the company's routing products.

For now Cisco isn't revealing any details on how the nPower X1 works and what products will be powered by the new processor, but notes that it lets the company to build "Terabit class" systems. Cisco plans reveal more about the nPower X1 at an event on Sept. 24.

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Mikael Ricknäs

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