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

  • From: John Ferriby
  • Date: Wed Aug 29 14:01:54 2001

> 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.

Gawd.  This so true.   Back in the moldy old days when DECnet was
far more common, Digital brought out a dedicated router.   VAXen
were the common systems and host based routing of DECnet was very
common.   What hardware platform did they use?  PDP 11/24.  Early
ciscos (pre AGS/AGS+/MGS/CGS/Trouter/IGS) were based on SUN hardware.
Once cisco "customized" their Motorola-based platform the state-of-
the-art slowed dramatically.   SUN went the way of Sparc and cisco
hung out with CISC/680x0 chips until the life cycle of the 680x0
was nearly dead.

Fast forward 15 years.  The ability for router manufacturers to
keep up with general purpose hardware is not any better.

The manufacturers appear to posture this as "we want to use
mature, stable technology."    The market has changed, though,
and many of the components are a commodity.  If it weren't for
the vast amount of custom code required to support their custom
hardware (ASICs and slave processors), we may be in a different situation.

The time is ripe for a hardware-abstraction software router.  The
Linux Router project seems to be the closest and best thing going
in those terms.   Cisco (and others) resemble  Apple in how they
control the hardware platform.   A company with the Microsoft
approach of "we make only the OS" could have thrived, but would
have be dependent upon manufacturers.   Now the Linux Router
project comes along and we don't have to concede to a proprietary
O.S. but we are limited to PCI bus (and slower) support.  For now.