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Cisco switch engines boost Catalyst performance

Cisco's latest supervisor switch engines lift Catalyst performance to handle more application-driven network traffic.

Cisco has introduced performance-boosting extensions for several Catalyst switches, giving customers the option...

of getting more capacity out of their current campus hardware.

Cisco introduced two supervisor engines this week -- the 6T and 8L-E. The former is for the Catalyst 6700, 6800 and 6900 series, while Cisco has aimed the latter at the 4500E. Both switch engines are scheduled to ship in April.

In general, the Catalyst switches are designed for the campus backbone, the wiring closet, or a small office or retail network. Switch engines, which are the brains of the Catalyst, extend the usefulness of the hardware as application-driven network traffic rises.

The 6T raises speeds to 400 Gbps per slot on the Catalyst 6807-XL chassis. As a result, the supervisor engine can increase switch capacity to 6 Tbps and scale to 12 Tbps when in the Virtual Switching System configuration. The 6T is compatible with 10 Gb, 40 Gb and 100 Gb line cards, and has 8 x 10 GbE and 2 x 40 GbE uplinks to support high-performance applications.

The 8L-E has up to 560 Gbps of wired switching capacity and can handle independent packets simultaneously at a rate of 48 Gbps. The extension has four 10 GbE uplinks.

Cisco upgrades wireless, UCS platforms

With the latest switch engines, Cisco introduced the Catalyst 3650-Mini for companies with space-constrained locations. The hardware mirrors the 3650 family of switches in a 1RU form factor. It's available with 24 or 48 fixed PoE+ GbE ports.

For wireless networks, Cisco introduced 802.11ac Wave 2 access points under the Aironet and cloud-managed Meraki brands. The company also introduced stackable Meraki MS Switches that feature 16 or 32 1 Gbps ports, and hot-swappable power supplies and fans.

The Catalyst and wireless network upgrades reflect Cisco's two-prong product strategy of strengthening its on-premises and cloud-managed technology, which also includes security, said Rohit Mehra, an analyst at IDC. By focusing on both, Cisco is bolstering its core platforms for switching and routing, while also addressing the needs of the "midmarket, distributed enterprise that is developing a greater affinity for leveraging cloud for IT infrastructure."

For the data center, Cisco introduced the 6300 Series Fabric Interconnect for the company's Unified Computing System (UCS), which combines compute, storage and networking into a single platform. Cisco's fabric interconnects provide the management and communication backbone of the UCS B-Series Blade Servers, 5100 Series Blade Server Chassis and the C-Series Rack Servers.

The 6300 Series features two 1RU 40 GbE switches and a 40 GbE Fabric Extender. The products leverage the Virtual Interface Card 1300 series, which is designed to support up to 40 GbE networks. The card supports network overlay technologies, such as VXLAN.

Overall, the new products, available today, are "a compelling addition to UCS shops that are eager for a next generation of the technology," said Brad Casemore, an analyst for IDC.

Next Steps

A comparison of campus core switches

Choosing data center switches for the cloud

Configure the Cisco EtherChannel in Catalyst switches

Dig Deeper on Data Center Network Infrastructure

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