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Cisco girds Nexus switches for data center battle

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Protecting the data center core

Speaking of the Nexus 7000 modular switches, there's a new entry chassis coming called the Nexus 7009 that is aimed at smaller data centers and as a core network for campus networks. Here's how it stacks up against the current Nexus 7010 and 7018 data center switches:

The Nexus 7009 chassis has almost as many ports as the larger Nexus 7010 using the new Fabric 2 switch modules – 336 as opposed to 384 – but crams it into 14 rack units instead of 21. Cisco is mounting the seven line cards in the Nexus 7009 horizontally and removing a whole lot of what is apparently extraneous cooling space in the larger Nexus switch chassis. – the Nexus 7009 has side-to-side cooling, which is how it can be packed tighter.

The new F2 Series line card has 48 10GE ports that burn less than 9 watts per port, and the Fabric 2 switch modules can deliver 550Gb/sec in switching bandwidth per module, considerably more than the 230Gb/sec in the Fabric 1 modules. You add line cards in the front and switch modules in the rear of the chassis, which can scale between 5 to 11.5 billion packets per second of message handling and between 8.8Tb/sec and 18.7Tb/sec of non-blocked switching capacity, depending on the model, when fully loaded.

Cisco Nexus 7000 switches

The Nexus 7000 module switch chassis

The new Nexus 7009, which has been shipping quietly since August, costs $20,000. The Fabric 2 modules cost $12,000 a pop for the Nexus 7009 and 7010 chassis and $18,000 for the Nexus 7018 enclosure. These Fabric 2 modules are shipping now for the Nexus 7009 chassis and won't ship until November for the two larger modular switches. The Nexus 7000 F2-Series I/O modules will ship in November as well, and cost $44,000 each.

That sounds like a lot of money, but here is how Ram Velaga, vice president of product management for Cisco's Data Center Solutions division, does the competitive math:

Cisco Nexus 7000 comparison

How Cisco stacks up the Nexus 7000 against the competition

Those comparisons are for getting 768 ports running at 10GE speeds in a non-blocking manner – Cisco clearly thinks it has a competitive winner.

Cisco made a number of other tweaks as part of the Nexus sweep. One was adding a 32MB buffer to its Nexus 2248TP-E switch so it can handle buffering of bursty traffic, such as video streams, better.

Another is a promise to make its Adaptive Security Appliance (ASA) firewall appliance, which is sold as a piece of hardware or a plug-in module for Catalyst switches and which has sold over 1 million units to date, available as a virtual appliance. It will be called the ASA 1000V and will complement the Nexus 1000V virtual switch for ESXi hypervisors (and soon Hyper-V) and the Virtual Security Gateway, which came out a year ago as virtual appliance. ®

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