Cisco Beefs Up Switching with Catalyst 6800

Cisco increases switching density and performance in new Catalyst family.

By Sean Michael Kerner | Posted Jun 24, 2013
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Today Cisco announced a new switching platform, built on a very familiar name and history.

The Catalyst 6800 isn't just any new switch, though. It's an extension of Cisco's popular Catalyst 6500 platform, one of the most widely deployed switching platforms in the history of computing. According to Cisco, there are over 800,000 Catalyst 6500s in its deployment base.

"The Catalyst 6800 is the 6500 on steroids," Inbar Lasser-Raab, senior director of marketing for enterprise networking at Cisco, told Enterprise Networking Planet.

The Catalyst 6800 platform benefits from a new chassis design and includes updated silcon. The ASIC is EARL8, which the Nexus 7K platform also uses. This ASIC is optimized for scalable core deployments with rich services and will offer programmability with Cisco's Software Defined Networking efforts, including onePK and OpenFlow.

The new Catalyst 6807-XL chassis is the big iron in the new product family, with up to 11.4 TB per port of switching capacity. The Catalyst 6807-XL can support up to 7 slots and up to 880 Gbps of slot capacity.

While Cisco is moving the performance needle, it isn't leaving existing Catalyst 6500 customers behind. The new Catalyst 6800 series will support existing Catalyst 6500 line cards and will take the scale and performance of the Catalyst series to the next level.

"As our customers move up, they will want to re-use the investment they have made in the Catalyst 6500," Lasser-Raab said. "Typically, Catalyst 6500 customers really love the platform, but some might need more capacity and more 10 Gigabit Ethernet density. That's what the 6800 is for."

Catalyst 6880

The Catalyst 6880-X is a mid-range platform chassis designed for optimal 10 Catalyst 6880Gigabit Ethernet density and services. The Catalyst 6880 is a 4RU box with 16 x 10 GbE ports built-in and four mini-slots. Each one of the mini-slots can have either 16 ports of 10 GbE or 5 ports of 40 GbE.

Cisco is also rolling out the new 6880ia instant access switch as part of the Catalyst refresh. The 6880ia can be configured with up to 48 ports of 10/100/1000 Megabit Ethernet and two 10 GbE ports.

"The 6880-IA is an access switch that an enterprise would deploy to connect different equipment across different floors in a building," Lasser-Raab said. "The access switches are then connected back into the core switch."

The special thing about the 6880ia is that when it is connected into a Catalyst 6500 or 6800, the switch can be auto-configured by the core switch and benefit from the same core capabilities.

"It's a distributed system that behaves like a single switch in terms of management and configuration," Lasser-Raab said. "That really helps to simplify all the operational activities in a campus."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at Enterprise Networking Planet and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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