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Caspian ready to launch routers for satellites

Posted: 16 Jul 2004 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:caspian technology concepts? apeiro router? router hardware? us department of defense? transformational satellite program?

Caspian Technology Concepts LLC has scored two significant wins for its flow-state architecture. The company will provide its Apeiro routers for ground stations in a satellite network; and its embedded space-hardened router hardware will be used in satellites in a deal with a U.S. Department of Defense prime contractor.

Currently, a prime contractor is working with the company's brassboard test systems, said Caspian Technology president Dale Boehm. Caspian was chosen because its router architecture involves flow-state identification of Internet Protocol flows with strict service guarantees, rather than best-effort Internet Protocol service, he said.

While the company would not identify the contractor or the satellite network, the broadband Internet specifications are identical to those for the Transformational Satellite (T-SAT) program planned jointly by the Department of Defense, the National Reconnaissance Office and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. T-SAT is intended to be a five-satellite military communications system, with one in-orbit spare. Launches are scheduled to begin in 2011.

The company's T-SAT architecture is intended to provide tens of megabits per second in aggregated IP services, in which strict service guarantees can be provided for multiple users and sources.

The General Accounting Office raised questions about T-SAT last December, suggesting that the National Reconnaissance Office might want to push out some capabilities and expand the DOD's simpler Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellite program instead. Caspian's contract could involve the Advanced EHF, or NRO's top-secret Intruder satellite, though T-SAT will have the toughest IP aggregation tasks for a space-based router.

The space contract is part of a shift in Caspian's focus from core-networking tasks to aggregation and peering duties, involving smaller platforms than the current Apeiro a120. At Supercomm 2004 last month, Caspian showed prototypes of a small rack-based system, which it said preserves full hardware redundancy, but shifts to a horizontal backplane that's more appropriate for remote terminals and co-location sites.

Caspian does not want to recast its architecture as an edge router, competing against the likes of Laurel Networks Inc. or Juniper Networks Inc. Instead, the company sees the value of its flow-state IP management in peering and aggregation networks, said director of engineering Joe Wilson Neil. In the midrange peering center, the Apeiro architecture may compete against Allot, Ellacoya, Network Appliances and others. But instead of performing deep packet analyses like many of those specialty systems, Caspian's system performs a quintuple characterization and hashing of source address, destination address, source port, destination port and protocol.

Dallas Kachan, the company's director of corporate marketing, said that even large-bandwidth best-effort routers trying to handle multiple video flows will drop a few random packets when weighted random early discard algorithms are used. The Caspian flow-state architecture assures no packet drops for low-latency, low-jitter traffic types.

Caspian does not view its military space contract as the key to having the Apeiro architecture accepted across military and intelligence domains. But because satellite transponders represent the extreme case of multiplexing as many traffic types as possible efficiently, the satellite router contract will represent a high-profile demonstration of the flow-state architecture's capability.

- Loring Wirbel

EE Times

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