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Re: What is the limit? (was RE: multi-homing fixes)

  • From: Leo Bicknell
  • Date: Wed Aug 29 10:09:07 2001

On Wed, Aug 29, 2001 at 04:58:03AM -0700, Sean M. Doran wrote:
> If the size or the dynamicism of the global routing system grows
> for a sustained period faster than the price/performance curve of
> EITHER memory OR processing power, the Internet will FAIL again.

This is great FUD.  First rate.  Have you considered working on a
political campaign?  This statement seems so true, but is so false.
We are all being held hostage by vendors here, and I hope the rest
of the people on here are letting them know as loudly as I do at
every opportunity.

Routers, in terms of route processing ability, are about as far from
state of the art as computers get these days.  I can buy a < $1000
PC with 10x the MIPS and twice the memory of major vendors largest
routers.  Intel and IBM have built supercomputers that can model
millions of atoms in a nuclear weapon.  IBM has a machine that can
play chess.  Oracle can set TPC records well over the average rate
of change of the BGP table on data sets 1000 times as large.

Once when I had hardware designers in the room from a major router
vendor I asked them 'why isn't the CPU on your route processor
socketed'?  They looked at me completely puzzled, looked at each
other, and then asked in a timid voice "why would you want to do
that"?  I looked at them and said 'so you can upgrade it when
a faster CPU comes out'.  They replied with "we don't want people
field upgrading CPU's".  I just shook my head and said it would
be nice if when a faster one came out they could spin a new rev
of the board with a new CPU faster, I didn't want to upgrade in 
the field.  They then started scribbling notes furiously.

Don't even get me started on the discussion of why they were custom
designing a board for the route processor, when there are off the
shelf motherboards, or if it must fit in a form factor, motherboard
designs that would be less costly for them, use all off the shelf
parts, and would allow them to bring things to market quicker.

I bet at least half the people reading this e-mail have more CPU
and memory in the box they are using for that task than the largest
core router in their network has for processing routes.  And that's
without exploring the things router vendors could do to really
speed things up, like true multi-processor designs, or real amounts
of memory.  I don't build a server with less than 1G of ECC RAM
these days, because it's $200.  But if I buy a $1M router I'm
lucky to get 64M for processing routes.

Look back.  Routers have always lagged _WAY_ behind most other
computer technology in terms of processor power, RAM, and general
purpose IO.  In fact, I would go so far as to venture that they
are falling further behind, that is not keeping up with moores
law even when it is true.

There was no reason for those past failures.  It was a combination
of bean counters, cluelessness, and lazyness.  The routing table
is growing slower than the number of lines of code in Windows, and
god help us if we can make Windows "work" we should be able to do
some simple routing.

Leo Bicknell - [email protected]
Systems Engineer - Internetworking Engineer - CCIE 3440
Read TMBG List - [email protected],