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Cisco delivers high-end telecom router

The networking gear giant introduces a new high-end router for large telecommunications carriers that was code-named HFR for "huge fast router."

Cisco Systems introduced on Tuesday a high-end router for large telecommunications companies with networks that handle the greatest levels of Internet traffic.

As earlier reported, the product was code-named HFR for "huge fast router" and is officially dubbed Carrier Routing System-1, or CRS-1. It is the first router designed by Cisco that will enable several boxes to be clustered together to function as a single router, and it is perhaps the most highly anticipated addition to the company's next generation of devices.

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Among the features added to CRS-1 is newly designed operating software, Cisco IOS XR, which the company said it invented for terabit-scale routing systems built on massively distributed multishelf architectures. The machine also offers system capacity of up to 92 terabits per second, optical carrier packet interface, a 40 gigabyte-per-second integrated circuit, an Extensible Markup Language-based interface and visual management tools.

The networking gear giant had been particularly elusive about the details of the CRS-1 over its four years of development, even denying the product's existence at times. Regardless, the machine represents Cisco's primary effort to maintain its lead in the core router market. The company says the device's routing system will help carriers scale network capacity to new levels and deliver next-generation data, voice and video services over a converged Internet Protocol network.

Cisco executives credited the CRS-1 design to its work with customers on their most pressing infrastructure needs.

"To be profitable, service providers are focusing on network and service convergence to reduce total cost of ownership, and adding new, revenue-generating services," Mike Volpi, senior vice president of Cisco's Routing Technology Group, said in a statement.

The company said the CRS-1 is currently in field trials with carriers and service providers, including Sprint and Deutsche Telekom's T-Com, and will become generally available in July. The company's starting list price is $450,000.

Despite all the interest Cisco has generated with its cloak-and-dagger approach to CRS-1, some industry watchers assert that the router will not immediately contribute to the company's bottom line, because its new, unfamiliar operating software could delay sales. If that is the case, the time lag could affect Cisco's prospects for the device, because rivals such as Juniper Networks will have more time to make inroads in the company's high-end customer base.

However, as Internet traffic growth has forced many carriers into a constant cycle of replacing routers with faster equipment, Cisco's customers have clamored for a device that will allow multiple chassis to be clustered together in order to form a single router--a feature CRS-1 delivers.

CNET News.com's Marguerite Reardon contributed to this report.