The Cisco 4000 ISR Series (Integrated Services Routers) include a revolutionary converged branch platform with industry-leading network, compute, and WAN services. These routers can seamlessly extend cloud services across remote sites, and help you accelerate the digitization of your business. The Cisco 4000 ISR router family offers the highest performance within the ISR portfolio. The family contains the Cisco 4451-X, 4431, 4351, 4331, and 4321 routers, which differ primarily in performance capabilities and in the number of network interface modules (NIM) and service-module slots supported.
Difference between RISC and CISC
Cisco networking devices were powered by Reduced Instruction Set Computing, RISC, processors. Intel is said to have popularized the x86 Complex Instruction Set Computing, CISC, architecture. The horsepower appears comparatively low but the RISC devices pack performance. Currently, Cisco uses a mixture of MIPS, PowerPC and x86, but it would like to standardize on one architecture, said Pradeep Kathail, a chief software architect at Cisco, speaking at an AppliedMicro press event at ARM TechCon. At present, classifying a processor as RISC or CISC is almost impossible, because their instructions sets all look similar now with parallel computing.
The Architecture of ARM
ARM Holdings out of England licenses its super power efficient ARM computing architecture to chip/systems on a chip (SoC) manufacturers such as Applied Micro, Broadcom, Cavium, Huawei, Nvidia, AMD, Samsung, and Apple. In fact, Applid Micro is now selling the “first chip to contain a software-defined network (SDN) controller on the die that will offer network services such as load balancing and ensuring service-level agreements on the chip. It’s like shoving the networking and computing vision of the Cisco Unified Computing System on a chip.” Helix, another chip, is sampling now and will be in production in 2015, will have four Helix cores running at 1.2Ghz and support fanless designs (further energy savings), AppliedMicro says.
Development of IOS, IOS-XE
Details on Cisco networking device computing architecture are difficult to gather.
Helix SoC from Applied Micro may be the ISR4000 Gen2?
Nexus 9k and 3K products, both based on Broadcom’s Trident silicon.
EZChip, out of Israel, purchased Tilera a few months ago. Back in 2011, Cisco invested millions in Tilera.
IOS is a bare metal OS. IOS-XE is a hypervisor (e.g. zen) running instance(s) of a “modern Linux operating system.” IOSd runs as a daemon/process on one of the VM’s. In fact, this is how the ASR1000 achieves RP/Sup redundancy virtually, with a single physical route processor. The first router to run IOS XE was the ASR 1000 and the first switch was the Catalyst 4500. Interestingly, Wireshark and Wireless Control Module is embedded in the 4500x and 3850 because it runs as daemon in XE (linux). So, for example you can capture packets without SPANing a port / wasting a port.
It seems easy to confuse IOS-XE's virtual machine architecture with the componentization (Individual Processes) design direction of both IOS (and IOS-XE/IOSd). Componentization enables OnePK and ACI development/integration, “Write Once, Publish Everywhere.” Scalable, Extensible, and Programmable interfaces. Going forward, IP Routing, VPN, Multicast, AAA, SNMP, etc., will each run as a stand-alone process common to all devices running IOS, NX-OS, or IOS-XR.
IOS XE currently runs on:
ISR 4000 Routers
5700 Series Wireless LAN Controllers
Cisco Catalyst 2960C, 2960S, 3560C, 3560-X, 3750-X, 3650, 3850, 4500-X, 4900M, 4948, and 4500E (Supervisor 6/7/8) Switches
Cisco ASR 1000 (and 903) Routers
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