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Cisco Nexus 9500 series: Data center switch overview

In this overview, learn more about the Cisco Nexus 9500 series, a family of data center switches designed for enterprises and highly virtualized data centers.

Editor's note: This product overview is part of a series on data center-class switches that examines what to look for when getting ready to purchase them. This vendor-specific product overview provides additional information about the features of Cisco's Nexus 9500 series of data center-class switches.

The Cisco Nexus 9500 series is a line of data center-class switches for enterprise IT environments, especially highly virtualized infrastructures. The series has three products: the Nexus 9516, 9508 and 9504, with 16 slots, eight slots and four slots, respectively.

All three switches are Layer 2/Layer 3 non-blocking Ethernet switches using the same Cisco supervisor engine, system controller and power supplies. They have a maximum bandwidth per slot of up to 3.84 terabits per second (Tbps) and support up to 100 1 GbE connections. Depending upon configuration, the switches can run either in traditional mode or support Cisco's software-defined networking strategy, Application Centric Infrastructure.

Cisco Nexus 9516

The Nexus 9516 chassis switch comes with up to 16 line cards supporting 1 GbE, 10 GbE, 40 GbE and 100 GbE. These line cards contain the actual Ethernet ports and the model of line card chosen determines the deployment scenario for the switch. Not all line cards fit in the 16-slot chassis, however, and are therefore not available for the Nexus 9516.

This switch has a maximum port density of 768 1/10 G BASE-T ports, 2304 10 GbE ports, 576 40 GbE ports or 128 100 GbE ports. It has two supervisor slots and fits six fabric modules. Fabric modules are cards equipped with high-throughput network-forwarding engines (NFEs) that provide routing, lookup and high-speed data-forwarding connectivity for installed line cards. The Nexus 9516 contains four NFEs per module, and it has a maximum backplane bandwidth of 60 Tbps. Many of the available line cards require all six fabric modules installed to reach full bandwidth.

The Nexus 9516 chassis is a 20 rack-unit (RU) tall system.

Cisco Nexus 9508

The Nexus 9508 is one step down from the 9516 and has eight slots for line cards. Like the 9516, its functionality is dependent on the card configuration chosen.

This switch has a maximum port density of 384 1/10 G BASE-T ports, 1152 10 GbE ports or 288 40 GbE ports. The unit also has two supervisor slots and can fit six fabric modules. Its fabric modules only have two NFEs per module, resulting in a maximum backplane bandwidth of 30 Tbps.

The 9508 also has two supervisor slots and stands at 13 RU in height.

Cisco Nexus 9504

With four line card slots, the Nexus 9504 is the smallest of the three switches in the Nexus 9500 series. It has a maximum port density of 192 1/10 G BASE-T ports, 576 10 GbE ports and 144 40 GbE ports, with a maximum backplane bandwidth of 15 Tbps. It fits six fabric modules and has two supervisor slots. The Nexus 9504 is 7 RU tall.

Common features and price

All three Nexus 9500 chassis use the same Cisco supervisor engines running a 4-core 1.8 GHz processor, with 16 GB of system memory (upgradable to 48 GB), and a 64 GB solid-state drive. Supervisor engine modules are replaceable and future versions will be backward-compatible with the 9500 series chassis.

The Cisco 9500 series switches are available at several price points, highly dependent on configuration and the line cards chosen. The Nexus 9516 is priced at approximately $20,000, the 9508 at $15,000, and the 9504 at $12,500. These prices are for the chassis only -- line cards are sold separately. All switches come with a 90-day out-of-box warranty, but support must be purchased separately.

Next Steps

Check out the other switches featured in this product overview series: Cisco's Nexus 7700, Juniper EX9200, HP FlexFabric 12900, HP FlexFabric 12500, Dell E1200i and E600i, Brocade VDX 8770.

This was last published in June 2015

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