Introduction to Cisco Catalyst Switches


The Cisco Catalyst switch family represents one of the most popular LAN switches on the market today. The Catalyst range is designed to meet the needs of a wide range of customersfrom small to medium businesses, right up to large enterprise networks and service providers. Cisco Catalyst switches provide high performance, scalability, manageability, and many other intelligent features that ensure their success to date.

I find that Cisco Catalyst switches present one of more difficult product sets to work with, simply because of the large range of switch families available, the vast differences in features between low-end and high-end platforms, and the different operating systems used. When you select a switch platform and model to use to build a LAN network, you must bear in mind that these differences exist; otherwise, you might purchase one or more switches that don't quite do the job you expected.

Cisco Catalyst switches can physically described by one of two device types:

  • Fixed-configuration switch

  • Chassis-based switch

The fixed-configuration switch consists of a fixed number or ports contained within a fixed chassis that includes an internal switch processor. Some of these devices provide a limited degree of modularity in that they include modular slots that can be populated by variety of different modules. The major advantages of fixed-configuration switches are low cost and ease of deployment. The major disadvantages of a fixed-configuration switch are a lack of flexibility and the introduction of a multiple management points in the network when installing more than one switch. Scaling the network by introducing multiple fixed-configuration switches can also introduce bottlenecks between each switch.

NOTE

Some Catalyst switches support stacking¸ where a group of Catalyst switches can be managed as a single entity. Traditionally, the Catalyst 29xx and 35xx switches have supported stacking; however, inter-switch performance is limited for larger stacks and the ability to manage the stack as a single entity has had some restrictions. The recent Catalyst 3750 series of switches now include stacking technology that includes a high-speed 32 Gbps backplane and also allows the stack to be completely managed as a single switch.


The chassis-based switch provides a chassis as a starting point, after which you can add the various components of the switch as you require. You can determine a particular type of switch processor and switching module, and then install these options. Chassis-based switches provide slots, which support various types of modules. The major advantages of chassis-based switches include high performance, flexibility, simplified management, and extended product lifetime. Chassis-based switches also commonly offer redundancy features to ensure the failure of a module, power supply, or other component does not cause a network outage. The major disadvantage of chassis-based switches is the high cost involved.

Table 1-1 indicates the various models that comprise the Cisco Catalyst switch family.

Table 1-1. Cisco Catalyst Switches

Model

Format

Status

Catalyst 1900/2800

Fixed Configuration

10BASE-T + 100BASE-T Uplinks

End of Sale

Recommended replacement = Catalyst 2950

Catalyst 2900XL/3500XL

Fixed Configuration

10/100BASE-T + 1000BASE-X Uplinks

End of Sale

Recommended replacement = Catalyst 2950/3550

Catalyst 2900G

Fixed Configuration

10/100BASE-T + 1000BASE-X Uplinks

Legacy

Recommended replacement = Catalyst 2950/3550

Catalyst 2950

Fixed Configuration 10/100BASE-T + 1000BASE-X Uplinks

Current

Catalyst 3550

Fixed Configuration

10/100BASE-T + 1000BASE-X Uplinks

Current

Catalyst 3750

Fixed Configuration

10/100/1000BASE-T + 1000BASE-X Uplinks

Current

Catalyst 4000/4500

Chassis

Current

Catalyst 4900

Fixed Configuration

(n x 1000BASE-X)

Legacy

Recommended replacement = Catalyst 3550/3750

Catalyst 5000/5500

Chassis

Legacy

Recommended replacement = Catalyst 6000/6500

Catalyst 6000/6500

Chassis

Current

Catalyst 8000/8500

Chassis

Current


In Table 1-1, each of the Catalyst product families are listed, with the form factor and current status of each switch indicated. Each of the product families in bold are considered current products and are recommended for deployment for new networks or for network upgrades. All other product families are either end of sale or considered legacy products that should be purchased only for existing networks where a common platform needs to be maintained.

Each of the switches in Table 1-1 is targeted at a particular switching environment, based upon size, network traffic, and features required. One way of classifying the general role of a switch is to identify the hierarchical layer in which the switch is operating. Well-designed LAN networks can be divided into three key layers:

  • Access Provides access to the network for end devices, such as user PCs, servers, and printers.

  • Distribution Provides an aggregation point for access-layer devices and then connects directly to the core. Layer 3 switching can be applied at this point, which improves convergence and scalability and allows for the introduction of network policies.

  • Core Central portion of the network that interconnects all distribution layer devices. The core is normally redundant and high-speed. The main job of the core is to switch traffic as fast as possible, due to the high volumes of traffic within the core. The core layer can either be a Layer 2 only core or a Layer 3 core that relies on routing for redundancy and convergence.

For many networks, a network switch can provide the functions of two layers or even the entire three. Only the very large networks typically have distinct core, distribution, and access layers; smaller networks typically have a combined core/distribution layer and an access layer. Following the core/distribution/access layer design provides a hierarchical network that can easily scale as the network grows. Figure 1-1 illustrates the various layers of a LAN network and which platforms fit into each of the layers.

Figure 1-1. Core/Distribution/Access Layers


In Figure 1-1, notice that all of the Catalyst switches (bar the Catalyst 8500) can be used as an access layer switch. Most commonly, the access layer function is left to the switches up to the Catalyst 4000/4500 series; however, many larger networks use the Catalyst 5000/5500 and Catalyst 6000/6500 switch as a wiring closet switches, because they can provide very high port densities. When this happens, the high-end switch is normally providing distribution layer functionality as well.

Cisco Catalyst Switch Platforms

As described in Table 1-1, a number of Cisco Catalyst switch platforms are available, each of which are suitable for different switching environments depending on the size, complexity, features required and of course cost. In this section, each of the Cisco Catalyst switch platforms that are available for purchase and not considered legacy switches are described (i.e., the platforms highlighted bold in Table 1-1). This includes the following switch platforms:

  • Catalyst 2950/3550 family

  • Catalyst 3550/3750

  • Catalyst 4000/4500

  • Catalyst 6000/6500

NOTE

The Catalyst 8500 switch is not discussed in this section because the Catalyst 6000/6500 switches now outperform this switch


Catalyst 2950 Family

The Catalyst 2950 switches represent Cisco's entry-level switch product offering and are a fixed-configuration platform designed for access-layer/workgroup connectivity. Table 1-2 lists each of the Catalyst 2950 models and describes their hardware and software configurations. Each switch contains 8MB flash and 16MB memory.

Table 1-2. Cisco Catalyst 2950 Family

Model

Hardware Specifications

Performance

Software Image

  

Forwarding Bandwidth

Forwarding Rate[1]

 

2950-12

12 x 10/100BASE-T

2.4 Gbps

1.8 Mpps

Standard image (SI)

2950-24

24 x 10/100BASE-T

4.8 Gbps

3.5 Mpps

Standard image (SI)

2950C-24

24 x 10/100BASE-T

2 x fixed 1000BASE-SX

5.2 Gbps

3.9 Mpps

Standard image (SI)

2950SX-24

24 x 10/100BASE-T

2 x fixed 1000BASE-SX

8.8 Gbps

6.6 Mpps

Standard image (SI)

2950T-24

24 x 10/100BASE-T

2 x fixed 1000BASE-T

8.8 Gbps

6.6 Mpps

Enhanced image (EI)

2950G-12

12 x 10/100BASE-T

2 x fixed 1000BASE-X[2]

6.4 Gbps

4.8 Mpps

Enhanced image (EI)

2950G-24[3]

24 x 10/100BASE-T

2 x fixed 1000BASE-X[2]

8.8 Gbps

6.6 Mpps

Enhanced image (EI)

2950G-48

48 x 10/100BASE-T

2 x fixed 1000BASE-X[2]

13.6 Gbps

10.1 Mpps

Enhanced Image (EI)


[1] Mpps = million packets per second, based upon a packet size of 64 bytes

[2] 1000BASE-X ports require a separate Gigabit Interface Converter (GBIC) of the appropriate Gigabit Ethernet technology (GigaStack, 1000BASE-T, 1000BASE-SX, 1000BASE-LX/LH or 1000BASE-ZX) to connect to the network.

[3] A model is available with DC power supply

As you can see from Table 1-2, many different models exist, each with different hardware and software specifications. In terms of software image, it is important to understand the difference between the standard image and enhanced image:

  • Standard image The standard image is a Layer 2 only image and provides traditional switching features. Standard image switches have no understanding of Layer 3/4 packets, meaning they look only at Ethernet headers and switch packets based upon those headers.

  • Enhanced image This image provides Layer 3/4 intelligence, allowing the switch to look deeper into frames to identify traffic generated by particular hosts and networks, as well as the applications that have generated a frame. These capabilities provide advanced security and quality of service (QoS) features for devices and applications in the network, all at wire speed without affecting switching performance. The enhanced image is essential for any network that runs converged voice, video, and data networks, because the switch can identify critical voice and video traffic, classify it as high priority, and then prioritize it when transmitting.

NOTE

It is important to understand that the Catalyst 2950 enhanced image does not provide Layer 3 routing capabilities, but rather the ability to understand the Layer 3 and Layer 4 properties of network traffic and apply security and/or QoS based upon those properties.


Figure 1-2 shows an example of the Catalyst 2950 switch (a Catalyst 2950G-48).

Figure 1-2. The Catalyst 2950G-48 Switch


In Figure 1-2, notice the two GBIC slots, which provide connectivity for any combination of the following GBICs:

  • GigaStack (WS-X3500-XL) Provides a proprietary half-duplex or full-duplex gigabit Ethernet connectivity. These GBICs are used to stack up to 8 Catalyst switches in a cascaded or star configuration (star configuration requires an aggregation switch such as the 3550-12G) within close physical proximity.

  • 1000BASE-T (WS-G5483) Provides copper-based gigabit Ethernet connectivity over UTP cable up to 100 m.

  • 1000BASE-SX (WS-G5484) Provides short range fiber-based gigabit Ethernet connectivity over multimode fiber cable up to 550 m.

  • 1000BASE-LX/LH (WS-G5486) Provides long range fiber-based gigabit Ethernet connectivity over single-mode fiber cable up to 10 km.

  • 1000BASE-ZX (WS-G5487) Provides extended long range fiber-based gigabit Ethernet connectivity over single-mode fiber cable up to 100 km.

NOTE

All of the GBICs just described are supported on all gigabit-capable Cisco Catalyst switch platforms, with the exception of the GigaStack GBIC, which is only supported on Cisco Catalyst 29xx/35xx platforms. Support for the 1000BASE-T module on CatOS-based switches requires CatOS 7.2, and on the Catalyst 4000/4500 Supervisor 3/4 requires Cisco IOS 12.1(13)EW.


NOTE

Cisco also produces the Catalyst 2955 series of switches, which are 12-port switches with a variety of gigabit uplink options designed for industrial environments. The Catalyst 2955 ships with an industrial strength case, includes no moving parts, and ships with the enhanced software image.


Catalyst 3550 Family

The Catalyst 3550 switches represent the entry-level platform from Cisco that provides the ability to perform Layer 3 switching. Layer 3 switching is a feature that allows a switch to route traffic between different LAN segments (VLANs), without impacting performance. This allows organizations to gain the benefits of implementing a hierarchical Layer 3 routing topology in the LAN without sacrificing performance.

Cisco Catalyst 3550 switches still support traditional Layer 2 switching; in fact by default, a Catalyst 3550 operates as a Layer 2 switch. Layer 3 switching must be explicitly configured, and the features that you can configure for Layer 3 switching depend on the software image you have installed. Two software images are available when you purchase a Catalyst 3550 switch:

  • Standard Multilayer Image (SMI) The SMI image provides Layer 2 switching with Layer 3/4 intelligence to provide advanced security and quality of service features, as well as basic Layer 3 switching functionality. The SMI image supports only static routing and RIP and does not support other dynamic routing protocols such as Enhanced Interior Gateway Routing Protocol (EIGRP), Open Shortest Path First (OSPF), and Border Gateway Protocol (BGP). The EMI image is required for these protocols.

    NOTE

    Prior to Cisco IOS 12.1(13)a, the SMI image did not provide any Layer 3 switching features (i.e., static routing and RIP were not supported). With IOS 12.1(13)a and higher, Layer 3 switching using static routes and RIP is supported.


  • Enhanced Multilayer Image (EMI) The EMI image provides full Layer 2 switching and Layer 3 switching, with complete support for all popular IP routing protocols, including Routing Information Protocol (RIP), EIGRP, OSPF and BGP.

Table 1-3 provides a list of advanced features and describes there availability on the Catalyst 2950 SI and EI images, as well as the Catalyst 3550 SMI and EMI images.

Table 1-3. Cisco Catalyst 2950/3550 Advanced Feature Comparison

Category

Feature

Catalyst 2950

Catalyst 3550

  

SI

EI

SMI

EMI

Routing

IP routing (Static/RIP)

No

No

Yes

Yes

IP routing (IGRP/EIGRP/OSPF/BGP)

No

No

No

Yes

Multicast routing (PIM)

No

No

No

Yes

Hot Standby Router Protocol (HSRP)

No

No

No

Yes

Policy-based routing

No

No

No

Yes

Multi-VRF CE

No

No

No

Yes

WCCP

No

No

No

Yes

Switching

Maximum MAC addresses

8000

8000

8000

12000

Maximum active VLANs

64

250

1000

1000

Maximum STP instances

64

64

128

128

ISL Trunking

No

No

Yes

Yes

IGMP Snooping

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

802.1s Multiple STP

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

802.1w Rapid STP

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

CrossStack UplinkFast

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Gigabit EtherChannel

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Security

Port-based ACLs

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

VLAN ACLs

No

No

Yes

Yes

Router ACLs

No

No

Yes

Yes

Secure Shell

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

SNMPv3

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

802.1x and per user ACLs

No

No

Yes

Yes

802.1x and VLAN assignment

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

QoS

Class of Service (802.1p)

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

DSCP support

No

Yes[1]

Yes[2]

Yes[2]

IP Precedence support

No

No

Yes

Yes

Ingress policing

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Egress policing

No

No

Yes

Yes

WRED (gigabit ports)

No

No

Yes

Yes

Auto QoS

No

Yes

Yes

Yes


[1] Only 13 DSCP values are support

[2] All DSCP values (64 values in total) are supported

As you can see from Table 1-3, the SI for the Catalyst 2950 provides hardly any advanced switching features at all. The Catalyst 3550 SMI possesses more features than the Catalyst 2950 EI, and the Catalyst 3550 EMI provides all features listed in Table 1-3.

Table 1-4 lists each of the Catalyst 3550 models and describes there hardware and software configuration. Each switch contains 16 MB flash and 64 MB memory.

Table 1-4. Cisco Catalyst 3550 Models

Model

Hardware Specifications

Performance

Software Image

  

Forwarding Bandwidth

Forwarding Rate[1]

 

3550-24FX

24 x 100BASE-FX

2 x 1000BASE-X

8.8 Gbps

6.6 Mpps

SMI or EMI

3550-24[2]

24 x 10/100BASE-T

2 x 1000BASE-X

8.8 Gbps

6.6 Mpps

SMI or EMI

3550-24PWR

24 x inline powered 10/100BASE-T

2 x 1000BASE-X

8.8 Gbps

6.6 Mpps

SMI or EMI

3550-48

48 x 10/100BASE-T

2 x 1000BASE-X

13.6 Gbps

10.1 Mpps

SMI or EMI

3550-12T

10 x 10/100/1000BASE-T

2 x 1000BASE-X

24 Gbps

17.0 Mpps

EMI only

3550-12G

10 x 1000BASE-X

2 x 10/100/1000BASE-T

24 Gbps

17.0 Mpps

EMI only


[1] Mpps = million packets per second, based upon a packet size of 64 bytes

[2] A model is available with DC power supply

In Table 1-4, notice the Catalyst 3500-12T and Catalyst 3550-12G, which provide 12 gigabit Ethernet ports and only ship with an EMI. These switches have a different physical layout to the other Catalyst 3550 models. Figure 1-3 and Figure 1-4 show examples of the Catalyst 3550 switches (the Catalyst 3550-48 and Catalyst 3550-12T).

Figure 1-3. The Catalyst 3550-48 Switch


Figure 1-4. The Catalyst 3550-12T Switch


The GBIC options for 1000BASE-X ports on the Catalyst 3550 switches are the same as for the Catalyst 2950.

Catalyst 3750 Family

In April 2003, Cisco announced the Catalyst 3750 as a new product family. The Catalyst 3750 provides Cisco's first high density gigabit Ethernet over copper switch in a fixed chassis, providing up to 24 x 10/100/1000BASE-T ports + 4 x 1000BASE-X ports in a single 1.5RU chassis. The Catalyst 3750 is similar in many respects to the Catalyst 3550, with the same concept of SMI and EMI and full Layer 3 switching capabilities. It also provides several enhancements over the Catalyst 3550, which include the following:

  • Memory The Catalyst 3750 includes 128 MB memory (compared with 64 MB in Catalyst 3550), which allows for more unicast and multicast routes to be stored in the routing table.

  • Gigabit Ethernet over copper High-density 10/100/1000 gigabit Ethernet copper ports.

  • IP version 6 (IPv6) Support for hardware-based Layer 3 switching for IPv6 in future software releases.

  • Stackwise technology Enhances performance, scalability, and management by allowing up to 9 switches to be stacked using a 32-Gbps interconnect. All switches are managed as a single entity, with all ports from all switches appearing as part of a single virtual switch.

  • Jumbo frames Allows the 3750 to support oversized Ethernet frames on Gigabit Ethernet ports, which are important for high data transfer applications such as storage and video.

  • Support for SFP Provides 1000BASE-X connectivity with new small form-factor pluggable module technology, which replace the previous Gigabit Interface Converter (GBIC) technology. SFPs are much smaller than GBICs, allowing for up to 4 x 1000BASE-X connections on the Catalyst 3750 switch.

Table 1-5 lists each of the Catalyst 3750 switches. Each switch contains 16 MB flash and 128 MB memory.

Table 1-5. Cisco Catalyst 3750 Models

Model

Hardware Specifications

Performance

Software Image

  

Forwarding Bandwidth

Forwarding Rate[1]

 

3750-24TS

24 x 10/100BASE-T

4 x 1000BASE-X (SFP)

32 Gbps

6.5 Mpps

SMI or EMI

3750-48TS

48 x 10/100BASE-T

4 x 1000BASE-X (SFP)

32 Gbps

13.1 Mpps

SMI or EMI

3750-24T

24 x 10/100/1000BASE-T

32 Gbps

35.7 Mpps

SMI or EMI

3750-24TS

24 x 10/100/1000BASE-T

4 x 1000BASE-X (SFP)

32 Gbps

38.7 Mpps

SMI or EMI


[1] Mpps = million packets per second, based upon a packet size of 64 bytes

Catalyst 4000/4500 Family

The Catalyst 4000/4500 switch family represents the entry-level chassis-based switch offering from Cisco. The Catalyst 4000/4500 switches are made up of three basic components:

  • Chassis This includes the switch chassis, power supplies, and fans.

  • Supervisor engine This includes the switch processor and switching engine and is required to operate the switch.

  • Switching modules These provide ports for connecting various types of devices to the switch.

Each of these components are now discussed.

Catalyst 4000/4500 Chassis

The chassis provided by the Catalyst 4000/4500 series switches vary across the Catalyst 4000 and Catalyst 4500 family. The major difference between the Catalyst 4000 series chassis and Catalyst 4500 series chassis is power; the Catalyst 4500 has an improved power distribution system that is capable of supporting inline power (i.e., the ability to power phones and wireless access points over Ethernet cabling) without requiring an external power shelf (as is required with the Catalyst 4000). The Catalyst 4500 series also provides a chassis that allows for redundant supervisor engines, whereas the Catalyst 4000 series chassis do not provide this.

Within the Catalyst 4000 series, two chassis are provided:

  • Catalyst 4003 3-slot chassis that provides one supervisor slot and two data slots.

  • Catalyst 4006 6-slot chassis that provides one supervisor slot and five data slots.

Within the Catalyst 4500 series, three chassis are provided:

  • Catalyst 4503 3-slot chassis that provides one supervisor slot and two data slots.

  • Catalyst 4506 6-slot chassis that provides one supervisor slot and five data slots.

  • Catalyst 4507R 7-slot chassis that provides two supervisor slots (one for redundancy) and five data slots.

Figure 1-5 and Figure 1-6 shows examples of the Catalyst 4000 and 4500 chassis (the Catalyst 4006 and 4507R).

Figure 1-5. The Catalyst 4006 Chassis


Figure 1-6. The Catalyst 4507R Chassis


It is important to note that the Catalyst 2948G and Catalyst 2980G switches are essentially fixed configuration Catalyst 4000 switches with a Supervisor engine, power supply and a fixed configuration of 48 * 10/100BASE-T + 2 * 1000BASE-X ports (2948G) or 80 * 10/100BASE-T + 2 * 1000BASE-X ports (2980G). Figure 1-7 shows the Catalyst 2980G switch.

Figure 1-7. The Catalyst 2980G Switch


Supervisor Engines

The Catalyst 4000/4500 switch family consists of four Supervisor engines, which each vary in internal architecture, functionality, and operating system used for switch management. Table 1-6 describes each of the Catalyst 4000/4500 supervisors

Table 1-6. Cisco Catalyst 4000/4500 Supervisor Engines

Supervisor

Supported Chassis

Performance

Operating System

  

Forwarding Bandwidth

Forwarding Rate[1]

 

Supervisor 1

4003

24 Gbps

18 Mpps

CatOS

Supervisor 2

4006

4503

4506

64 Gbps[2]

18 Mpps

CatOS

Supervisor 3

4006

4503

4506

64 Gbps[2]

48 Mpps[3]

Cisco IOS

Supervisor 4

4006

4503

4506

4507R

64 Gbps[2]

48 Mpps[3]

Cisco IOS


[1] Mpps = million packets per second, based upon a packet size of 64 bytes

[2] Forwarding bandwidth is 28 Gbps in Catalyst 4503

[3] The same forwarding rate applies for Layer 2 and Layer 3 switched traffic

The Supervisor 1 and Supervisor 2 engines are Layer 2 switching only supervisors and are managed using the CatOS operating system. It is important to note that the Supervisor 2 contains a blocking architecture internally, meaning congestion is possible in certain configurations internally on the Supervisor. Figure 1-8 shows the internal blocking architecture of the Supervisor 2 switch.

Figure 1-8. Internal Architecture of Supervisor 2 Switch


NOTE

The Supervisor 1 is non-blocking, because it contains only a single 24-Gbps non-blocking switching engine that provides each of the 2-Gbps traces to module 2 and module 3 in the Catalyst 4003.


In Figure 1-8, notice that three separate switching engines (SEs) exist (each provide 24-Gbps internal non-blocking forwarding bandwidth), with each providing a 2-Gbps full-duplex trace to each module in the chassis (providing a total of 3 * 2-Gbps or 6-Gbps full-duplex bandwidth to each module).

Be careful of the "marketing terms" using by Cisco and other switch vendors to provide forwarding bandwidth performance figures. The quoted performance figures always refer to the total system bandwidth and not to the full-duplex bandwidth provided. For example, a 1-Gbps full-duplex connection is considered to provide a total of 2-Gbps bandwidth (1 Gbps in one direction, 1 Gbps in the other direction). In the case of SE1 and SE3 on a Catalyst 4000 Supervisor 2, each SE has 5 * 2-Gbps full-duplex connections to each line card, a single external 1-Gbps full-duplex 1000BASE-X connection on the supervisor and a 1-Gbps full-duplex connection to SE2. This provides a total of 12 Gbps full-duplex bandwidth (5 * 2 + 1 + 1), or a total forwarding bandwidth of 24 Gbps.

Although each SE is non-blocking internally, a single 1-Gbps full-duplex connection interconnects the switching engines, which potentially causes blocking (congestion) on the interconnections between each SE if devices attached to one switching engine are communicating with devices attached to another switching engine.

NOTE

If you are not using the two external 1000BASE-X ports on the Supervisor 2 module, you can disable them by configuring switch acceleration and introduce a third 1-Gbps interconnection between SE1 and SE3, reducing the amount of potential blocking (see dashed connection between SE1 and SE3 in Figure 1-8). You can also purchase a backplane channel module for the Supervisor 2, which doubles the bandwidth between each switching engine from 1 Gbps to 2 Gbps.


The Supervisor 3 and Supervisor 4 engines are Layer 2 and Layer 3 switching capable and are managed using the Cisco IOS operating system. These supervisors are completely non-blocking internally, unlike the Supervisor 1 and Supervisor 2, consisting essentially of one large non-blocking switching engine to which each module trace connects to. Just as for the Catalyst 3550/3750 switches, a basic image provides Layer 3 switching using static and RIP routing, whilst a separate enhanced image provides full Layer 3 switching using static, RIP, IGRP, EIGRP, OSPF, and BGP routing.

NOTE

The differences between the Supervisor 3 and Supervisor 4 include memory (128 MB in Supervisor 3, 256 MB in Supervisor 4); support for redundant supervisors (Supervisor 4); and the ability to add a NetFlow feature daughter card (Supervisor 4).


Switching Modules

The Catalyst 4000/4500 switch family provides for a wide variety of switching modules, allowing for high-density 10/100BASE-T, 10/100/1000BASE-T, and 1000BASE-X deployments. Other modules supported include a Layer 3 routing module (for Supervisor 1/2 deployment, not supported in Supervisor 3/4) and an access gateway module (provides voice gateway functionality). Table 1-7 lists some of the switching modules available for the Catalyst 4000/4500.

Table 1-7. Cisco Catalyst 4000/4500 Switching Modules

Module Part Number

Description

WS-X4148-RJ

48 x 10/100BASE-T RJ-45 ports

WS-X4148-RJ45V

48 x inline powered 10/100BASE-T RJ-45 ports

WS-X4148-RJ21

48 x 10/100BASE-T ports with RJ-21 Telco connectors

WS-X4232-GB-RJ

32 x 10/100BASE-T + 2 x 1000BASE-X

WS-X4232-L3

Layer 3 Router module

32 x 10/100BASE-T and 2 x 1000BASE-X ports

WS-X4424-GB-RJ45

24 x 10/100/1000BASE-T

WS-X4448-GB-RJ45

48 x 10/100/1000BASE-T

WS-X4448-GB-LX

48 x 1000BASE-LX

WS-X4306-GB

6 x 1000BASE-X

WS-X4418-GB

18 x 1000BASE-X


Catalyst 6000/6500 Family

The Catalyst 6000/6500 family represents the flagship of the Cisco Catalyst switching product range. The switch is aimed at the enterprise network and also at service provider networks. The Catalyst 6000/6500 is chassis-based, which means that it consists of the same fundamental components as a Catalyst 4000/4500 switch (i.e., chassis, supervisor engine, and switching modules), which are now discussed in more detail.

Catalyst 6000/6500 Chassis

The chassis provided by the Catalyst 6000/6500 series switches vary across the Catalyst 6000 and Catalyst 6500 family. The differences between the Catalyst 6000 series chassis and Catalyst 6500 series are listed below:

  • Backplane Both the Catalyst 6000 and Catalyst 6500 contain a shared 32-Gbps backplane; however, the Catalyst 6500 also supports an upgrade to a 256-Gbps crossbar switching matrix by adding an optional switch fabric module.

  • Scalability The Catalyst 6000 is provided only in a 6-slot chassis (6006) and 9-slot (6009) chassis, while the 6500 provides 3-slot (6503), 6-slot (6506), 9-slot (6509), and 13-slot (6513) chassis options.

Figure 1-9 and Figure 1-10 shows examples of the Catalyst 6000 and 6500 chassis (the Catalyst 6006 and 6509).

Figure 1-9. The Catalyst 6006 Chassis


Figure 1-10. The Catalyst 6509 Chassis


Supervisor Engines

The Catalyst 6000/6500 switch family consists of three Supervisor engines, which each vary in terms of functionality and performance:

  • Supervisor 1A Provides support for advanced security and QoS features, as well as MLS-based (Multilayer switching) Layer 3 switching. The Supervisor 1A supports a backplane capacity of 32 Gbps and a Layer 2/Layer 3 forwarding rate of up to 15 Mpps.

  • Supervisor 2 Provides support for advanced security and QoS features, as well as CEF-based (Cisco Express Forwarding) Layer 3 switching. The Supervisor 2 also supports the switch fabric module (SFM), which increases backplane capacity from 32 Gbps to 256 Gbps and supports a Layer 2/Layer 3 forwarding rate of up to 210 Mpps.

  • Supervisor 720 Provides support for advanced security and QoS features, as well as advanced CEF-based Layer 3 switching. The Layer 3 switching engine supports IPv6 routing, network address translation, GRE tunneling, and MPLS all in hardware. The Supervisor 720 includes a crossbar switching matrix (formerly provided via the separate SFM in conjunction with the Supervisor 2), which provides a backplane capacity of 720 Gbps and a Layer 2/Layer 3 forwarding rate of up to 200 Mpps (IPv6) and 400 Mpps (IPv4). The Supervisor 720 also includes PFC3 and MSFC3 daughter cards (discussed later), which provide the Layer 3 switching capabilities of the Supervisor.

All supervisors can be installed in redundant pairs, ensuring maximum availability in the event of an active supervisor failure. Any additional add-on modules that extend system performance or functionality (e.g., SFM, PFC daughter card, and MSFC daughter card) can also be installed in a redundant configuration, ensuring the highest levels of availability

You have learned that the Supervisor 2 engine supports the SFM; each Supervisor also supports two types of add-on modules onboard the Supervisor itself (i.e., daughter cards), which extend the functionality and performance of the supervisor engine to provide the features and performance described above. These daughter cards are described as follows:

  • Policy feature card (PFC) The PFC provides Layer 3/4 intelligence, allowing for advanced security and QoS features to be applied based upon the Layer 3 and Layer 4 parameters of traffic. The PFC also provides the hardware forwarding engine when Layer 3 switching is enabled with the addition of an MSFC. The PFC can be installed just by itself, without the MSFC (discussed next).

  • Multilayer switching feature card (MSFC) The MSFC is essentially a router on a daughter card, providing full Layer 3 routing functionality and enabling the Catalyst 6000/6500 to perform Layer 3 switching. In a Layer 3 switching configuration, the MSFC provides the control plane component of L3 switching (i.e., populating and maintaining the routing table), while the PFC provides the data plane component of L3 switching (i.e., rewriting frame and packet headers and switching routed packets to the appropriate egress port), which means you must have a PFC installed before installing an MSFC. The MSFC also allows the switch to operate in native IOS, where the Supervisor and MSFC are managed via a single Cisco IOS-based management interface, integrating Layer 2 and Layer 3 switching management (similar to the Catalyst 3550 EMI and Catalyst 4000/4500 Supervisor 3/4).

NOTE

Without a MSFC, the Catalyst 6000/6500 Supervisor engines operate the CatOS operating system. When you add a MSFC, by default, the Supervisor still runs CatOS and the MSFC runs Cisco IOS (this configuration is known as referred to as hybrid IOS). You can then configure the switch to operate in native IOS mode, where the Supervisor and MSFC are managed by the same Cisco IOS management interface, as long as the switch has an MSFC installed.


There are three generations of PFC and MSFC modules, with various combinations of Supervisor engines and different versions of PFC and MSFC modules making it a reasonably complex task to understand which features are supported in each configuration. Chapter 6, "Layer 3 Switching," discusses the features of the various Supervisor, PFC, and MSFC configurations in more detail.

Switching Modules

On the Catalyst 6000/6500, you can purchase three types of line cards:

  • Classic A classic module connects to the 32-Gbps shared backplane only.

  • Fabric-enabled A fabric-enabled module connects to both the 32-Gbps backplane and also has an 8-Gbps full-duplex connection to the 256-Gbps crossbar switch matrix (requires Supervisor 720 or switch fabric module installed).

  • Fabric-only Connects only to the 256-Gbps crossbar switch matrix via dual 8-Gbps full-duplex connections (requires Supervisor 720 or switch fabric module installed).

Even though there are three types of modules, all modules can communicate with each other, even if they are attached to different switching backplanes (e.g., classic and fabric-only cards are not connected to the same bus). In this situation, an interconnection between the crossbar switching matrix is interconnected with the shared bus backplane allows classic cards and fabric-only cards to communicate. Table 1-8 lists some of the LAN switching modules available for the Catalyst 6000/6500.

Table 1-8. Cisco Catalyst 6000/6500 Switching Modules

Module Part Number

Description

WS-X6148-RJ-45

48 x 10/100BASE-T RJ-45 ports

WS-X6148-RJ-45V

48 x inline powered 10/100BASE-T RJ-45 ports

WS-X6148-RJ-21

48 x 10/100BASE-T with RJ-21 Telco connectors

WS-X6348-RJ-45

48 x 10/100BASE-T RJ-45 ports (Enhanced QoS)

WS-X6348-RJ-45V

48 x inline powered 10/100BASE-T RJ-45 ports (Enhanced QoS)

WS-X6348-RJ-21

48 x 10/100BASE-T with RJ-21 Telco connectors (Enhanced QoS)

WS-X6548-RJ-45

48 x 10/100BASE-T RJ-45 ports (Fabric enabled)

WS-X6548-RJ-45V

48 x inline powered 10/100BASE-T RJ-45 ports (Fabric enabled)

WS-X6548-RJ-21

48 x 10/100BASE-T with RJ-21 Telco connectors (Fabric enabled)

WS-X6408A-GBIC

8 x 1000BASE-X

WS-X6416-GBIC

16 x 1000BASE-X

WS-X6316-GE-TX

16 x 1000BASE-T

WS-X6516-GE-TX

16 x 1000BASE-T (Fabric enabled)


Perhaps one of the best features of the Catalyst 6000/6500 switch is the capability to extend switch functionality well outside the bounds of pure LAN switching and Layer 3 switching. The Catalyst 6000/6500 not only provides LAN switching modules, which allow for high-density 10/100BASE-T, 10/100/1000BASE-T, and 1000BASE-X deployments, but also provides a wide range of other modules called services modules that extend and enhance the functionality of the Catalyst 6000/6500. The following lists some examples of the services modules available for the Catalyst 6000/6500 switch:

  • Firewall services module (WS-SVC-FWM-1-K9) Essentially a PIX firewall on steroids, this module provides up to 5 Gbps firewall throughput, ensuring advanced security features can be implemented in the network without compromising performance.

  • IPSec virtual private network (VPN) services module (WS-SVC-IPSEC-1) Provides up to 1.9 Gbps of triple DES VPN performance, ensuring private data can be protected without comprising performance.

  • Intrusion detection system module (WS-SVC-IDS2BUNK9), also known as IDSM) Analyzes traffic from multiple VLANs for intrusive activity that might indicate an attack against the network, generating alarms and configuring security devices to block attacks. The latest IDSM can analyze up to 600 Mbps of traffic.

  • Content switching module (WS-SVC-CSG-1) Provides intelligent application-layer load balancing for web server farms and other application server farms, providing enhanced performance, availability, and scalability.

  • Network analysis module (WS-SVC-NAM-x) Provides intelligent network monitoring using Remote Monitoring (RMON) and network statistics using NetFlow capture.

As you can see from the preceding, the Catalyst 6000/6500 is not just a LAN switch; it is a platform that can integrate LAN switching features with advanced security, application, and network management features.

Catalyst Operating Systems

Today there are two main operating systems that are used on Cisco Catalyst switches:

  • Catalyst Operating System (CatOS)

  • Cisco Internetwork Operating System (Cisco IOS)

You are most likely familiar with Cisco IOS; Cisco IOS is the popular operating system installed on nearly all Cisco routers and is a very mature, feature-rich, and extensible operating system that offers Cisco customers significant value-add and return on investment. Historically, Cisco acquired a few major switch vendors in the early- to mid-1990s, which resulted in the introduction of what is now known as CatOS. CatOS is used to operate the following platforms:

  • Catalyst 2900/4000/4500 with Supervisor 1/2

  • Catalyst 5000/5500

  • Catalyst 6000/6500

CatOS has a very easy to use command-line interface and has traditionally supported bulk administration tasks much more effectively than Cisco IOS. These are important features when configuring a device that potentially has more than 500 ports.

NOTE

The ability to perform bulk administration tasks has been addressed in later releases of Cisco IOS.


Unlike Cisco IOS, which has many configuration modes and different commands, CatOS provides three basic types of commands:

  • set These commands apply some configuration to the switch. For example, the set system name command is used to configure the switch name.

  • clear These commands remove some configuration from the switch.

  • show These commands display configuration status information, which allows you to verify the operational configuration.

Other commands are used for system management, such as copy and write; however, for configuration tasks, you will only ever use the set and clear commands and then use show commands to verify your configuration.

NOTE

Many chassis-based CatOS switches support optional Layer 3 routing modules (e.g., Catalyst 5000/5500 RSM, Catalyst 6000/6500 MSFC), which include their own Cisco IOS. This means that the module essentially just uses the switch chassis for power and network connectivity, with management of the module performed separately from the Supervisor that runs the switch. When CatOS is used to manage the Layer 2 switching component, and Cisco IOS is used to manage the Layer 3 routing component, the switch is said to be managed using hybrid IOS, because two different operating systems (CatOS and Cisco IOS) are used to manage the switch.


Cisco plans to eventually phase out CatOS, moving all switching platforms to Cisco IOS, which will allow for a uniform management interface across all Cisco switches and routers, as well as better integration of Cisco switching and routing features. Today, the following platforms are based upon Cisco IOS:

  • Catalyst 2900XL/3500XL

  • Catalyst 2950/3550/3750

  • Catalyst 4000/4500 Supervisor 3/4

  • Catalyst 6000/6500 with MSFC running native IOS

As you can see from the preceding list, the Catalyst 4000/4500 and Catalyst 6000/6500 switches can either run CatOS or Cisco IOS, which leads to the question: Which operating system should I run? On the Catalyst 4000/4500, the operating system is tied to the type of Supervisor engine, and normally the much higher performance capabilities and integrated Layer 3 switching capabilities of the Cisco IOS-based Supervisor 3/4 engines make them the obvious choice. It should be noted, however, that many features are still present in CatOS that are not present in Cisco IOS and that many new features are first released into CatOS code before Cisco IOS. This applies also to the Catalyst 6000/6500, where you can use either CatOS or Cisco IOS regardless of the Supervisor engine installed.

NOTE

Although CatOS still leads the development efforts in terms of new features over comparative Cisco IOS features, Cisco has indicated that this is short lived, with a goal of introducing feature parity and then focusing on the development of new features on Cisco IOS.


Although Cisco IOS might be the way of the future, for now and many years to come, there still exists a large deployment of CatOS-based switches. This means you must ideally be proficient in both Cisco IOS and CatOS if you want to design, implement, and support Cisco switched networks.




CCNP Self-Study CCNP Practical Studies. Switching
CCNP(R) Practical Studies: Switching (CCNP Self-Study)
ISBN: 1587200600
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2002
Pages: 135
Authors: Justin Menga

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