Procket speeds IP traffic

SAN FRANCISCO (10/03/2003) - Procket Networks Inc.'s Procket PRO/8801 is not your basic enterprise router. It understands IP, and only IP; routing other traffic types calls for different equipment. But what it does, it does well, moving up to 40Gb of network data across its switch fabric every second. There are not a lot of frills in the design. However, for large enterprises or ISP networks that require moving massive amounts of IP data as quickly as possible, Procket PRO/8801 fits the bill.

We tested the PRO/8801 at the University of Florida's Network Services Interoperability Lab. Physically installing the PRO/8801 revealed two minor surprises. First, the length of the box, 42 inches, prevents it from fitting inside many standard rack cases. Second, the Procket router runs on dual 110/120 15-amp electric feeds. Being able to plug the PRO/8801 into a standard electric outlet was a very pleasant surprise.

The PRO/8801 is the smallest system in the Procket lineup, with a single linecard slot, a single switch fabric slot, and four media adapter slots. Each media adapter slot can be outfitted with a card containing these port configurations: one 10Gb, 10 1Gb, eight OC12, four OC48, or one OC192 ports.

Our test units each had one10Gb and two 1Gb interface cards. Switching interface cards is simple, thanks to Procket's guide system that has you insert a card into the rails, then seat it into the card connector with a pair of screws. This eliminates the danger of bending pins or damaging connectors during insertion.

In all our tests, the Procket PRO/8801 routed as much traffic as we could throw at it with essentially no packet loss, under any tested protocol. As test parameters moved towards the extremes, there was a small amount of packet loss or latency, but we saw no results that indicated that the PRO/8801 would fail to do exactly what Procket claims it will do: move massive amounts of IP traffic at very high speeds.

Procket's Modular Service Environment software is designed to minimize strains on the system's hardware, with specific features consuming resources only if they are loaded. We tested the system with late-beta Version 2.2 software, which should be in general release by the time you read this. Procket's software uses an industry-familiar interface, meaning that those who are familiar with Cisco's IOS will have an easy time learning the Procket system.

The LYNXworks-based software system features a programmable forwarding path, which allows only those services required for a particular packet to be brought to bear on the packet, minimizing processing time and latency. The emphasis on speed extends through the hardware design. The switching fabric in the PRO/8801 is rated at 40Gbps and Procket engineers executed the designs of the VLSI (Very Large Scale Integration) chips, which contain the routing and switching logic of the main system.

With an as-tested price of US$390,000, this is not an inexpensive solution to a routing problem, but if your network core demands the highest speeds for moving IP traffic with great reliability, then the PRO/8801 should be on your short list of options.

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