Cisco adds more Gigabit, 10 Gig to high-end switch

FRAMINGHAM (09/22/2003) - Cisco Systems Inc. last week released several Gigabit and 10 Gigabit Ethernet modules for its flagship enterprise switch, the Catalyst 6500.

The new blades, which offer Gigabit over copper and 10 Gigabit over single-mode fiber among other features, could give enterprise LANs a speed boost, improved quality of service (QoS), security and management features.

Among the new Gigabit Ethernet modules is a blade with 24 Small Form-Factor Pluggable Gigabit Ethernet ports, which allow users to configure the module with various copper- or fiber-based Gigabit Ethernet SFP inserts. A 48-port 10/100/1000M bit/sec Ethernet blade is also available now for the Catalyst 6500. The module supports three speeds of Ethernet on each port, as well as such features as Jumbo Frames, allowing Ethernet frames as large as 9K bytes in size (the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) standard is 1.5K bytes) which can be useful for moving large blocks of data over a LAN - such as network backup jobs.

A daughter card is also available for both the 24-port and 48-port Gigabit blades, which can add features such as IPv4 and IPv6 traffic forwarding, QoS and security policy enforcement. The daughter card allows the modules to handle these functions locally, according to Cisco, which frees up a Catalyst 6500's central processing module and allows the switch to handle more aggregate traffic.

Also included on the daughter card is a "Call Home" Event Notification feature, which allows a Catalyst 6500 to contact network staff via pager or mobile phone in the event of a system failure or other pre-determined network trigger.

Cisco also announced optical ports for its four-port 10 Gigabit Ethernet modules, which were announced in March. The new optical inserts for the modules allow users to deploy 10 Gigabit Ethernet over multi-mode fiber. They include a 850-nanometer (nm) 10GBase-SR optical insert, and a 1310-nm 10GBase-LX4 insert. Both inserts are based on the XENPAK design standard for 10 Gigabit Ethernet modular optics. The 10GBase-SR insert can be used to run 10 Gigabit over multi-mode fiber up to 200 feet, while the 10GBase-LX4 can stretch 10G links up to 1,000 feet.

Cisco announced single-mode fiber 10 Gigabit Ethernet optics in March, along with the four-port switch module and the Supervisory 720 module for the Catalyst 6500. With the introduction of the multi-mode fiber inserts, Cisco is pitching 10 Gigabit to a larger audience, since multi-mode fiber is more widely deployed in enterprises, experts say.

The 24- and 48-port Gigabit Ethernet modules for the Catalyst 6500 are available now for US$15,000 each. The Distributed Forwarding card for either module will be available for $7,500 in October.

The 10GBase-SR and 10GBase-LX optical inserts for the Catalyst 6500's four-port 10 Gigabit blade will be available in November, with the SR insert priced at $3,000 and the LX version at $4,000. The four-port 10 Gigabit Ethernet module for the Catalyst 6500 (without inserts) is available now for $20,000.

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