Cisco unveils ‘Internet for the Future’ components with Silicon One unified silicon architecture

In addition to the ‘Holy Grail of Silicon’ that can be used in any form factor, Cisco also announced its new Cisco 8000 Series, a platform built on the new silicon which scales from small devices to a huge 18-slot chassis.

Chuck Robbins kicking off the event

Today, Cisco made a huge, related set of announcements which it billed as ‘the Future of the Internet. The centerpiece was Cisco Silicon One, a new unified silicon architecture in development for five years, that can be used anywhere in the network, and in any form factor. They also announced the new Cisco 8000 series, their first platform built on Silicon One, new, cloud-enhanced Cisco IOS XR7 networking operating system software, and what the company says  will be a choice of flexible consumption models, with a choice of components, white box, or integrated systems to build their networks.

“This is a very big day for us and a proud day for us,” said Chuck Robbins, Cisco’s Chairman and CEO. “It has been in development for over five years. We are really trying to create the backbone that is going to power the future applications of the Internet.” This has taken the company five years, and approaching $1 billion of R&D spent to create.

Robbins noted that with the Internet having exploded from the early days 20 years ago where its focus was on ecommerce and email, infrastructure to power its future needs to prepare for an environment where by 2023, there will be 4.8 billion users, and the average person will have 3.6 devices connected.

“In building the Internet for What’s Next, we have to have more capacity, more speed and we have to lower the cost,” Robbins declared. “We all have to make it simpler and easier and give our customers the ability to operate with greater speed. That requires simplifying operations. Customers don’t want to have all their resources running the infrastructure. Finally, and most important is the notion of trust. Technology has to have that element of trust. We want to provide our technology to our customers in whatever way they would like to consume it.”

David Goeckeler,  Cisco’s executive vice president and general manager of the Networking and Security Business, was next to the stage, and got to announce the really cool stuff.

David Goeckeler onstage

“The goal was building one piece of networking silicon that could work across the entire networking portfolio – one networking ASIC for all those places,” Goeckeler said. “That was a very ambitious goal, which some people, even here, said was an impossible goal.”

Nevertheless, he said that Silicon One realizes that goal.

“It is a clean-sheet architecture,” he said. “We started new to build an ASIC that could solve all these problems. We believe this will be the networking engine that powers digital innovation for the next several decades.”

“Silicon One enables you to build the whole thing from small form factors to  big chassis,” said Eyal Dagan, Cisco’s Senior VP of Silicon Engineering. “You don’t have to go anywhere else.

“This is the holy grain of silicon,” Dagan added.

The new Cisco 8000 series

The first member of the new Cisco 8000 series based on this new silicon to be unveiled is the Q100. It’s a programmable routing device that Cisco is touting as the first in the industry to break through the 10 terabits of bandwidth per second barrier.

“The Q100 has more than 2x the bandwidth and 3x the packet processing per second as current routing devices,” Dagan said. “It can handle 10.8 terabits per second.

“This is not a vision,” Goeckeler emphasized, asserting that their competitors announce products and they take physical form six months later. “These are products that are orderable today, and will be shipping in the next several months.” Early adopters have had their hands on them since October.

Jonathan Davidson, SVP of Cisco’s Service Provider Business, emphasized how the 8000 series provides the trust customers expect that their devices will be secure.

“It starts with a root of trust in hardware that hands off to the network OS,” he said. The OS is an updated version of Cisco’s IOS XR OS. “It then maintains trust at runtime.”

Cisco also said that it would offer flexible consumption models first established with their Optics portfolio, followed by the disaggregation of the Cisco IOS-XR software, and now including Cisco Silicon One. This new model will offer customers a choice of components, white box, or integrated systems to build their networks.