Cisco Catalyst 6500 gets Gigabit Ethernet makeover

Cisco Systems Inc. last week introduced modules for its Catalyst 6500 enterprise network switch that provide 1Gbps and 10Gbps Ethernet ports and new quality-of-service and securiy features.

Among the new modules is a blade with 24 small form-factor pluggable gigabit Ethernet ports, which can be configured for copper or fibre and costs US$15,000.

A 48-port blade also now is available that supports 10/100/1000Mbps Ethernet on each port and supports Jumbo Frames, which allows Ethernet frames as large as 9Kb (the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers standard is 1.5Kb). Jumbo Frames can be useful for moving large blocks of data over a LAN, such as for network backup. Like the 24-port blade, it costs US$15,000.

A daughtercard, priced at US$7,500, will be available next month for both blades, adding features such as IPv4 and IPv6 traffic forwarding, QoS and security policy enforcement. The card lets the modules handle these functions locally, which Cisco says frees up a Catalyst 6500’s central processing module.

Also on the daughtercard is a “Call Home” Event Notification feature, which lets a Catalyst 6500 contact network staff via pager or mobile phone in the event of a system failure or other predetermined network trigger.

Cisco also announced optical ports for its four-port 10Gbps Ethernet modules, which were introduced in March and cost US$20,000. The optical inserts let users deploy 10Gbps Ethernet over multi-mode fibre. They include 850nm 10GBase-SR and 1310nm 10GBase-LX4 inserts, which cost US$3,000 and US$4,000, respectively. Both are based on the XENPAK design standard for 10Gbps Ethernet modular optics. The 10GBase-SR insert can be used to run 10Gbps Ethernet over multi-mode fiber up to 200 feet, while the 10GBase-LX4 can stretch 10G links up to 1,000 feet.

Cisco Catalyst 6500 switches with 10 gigabit Ethernet will be going into the new Stata Center at the Massachusetts Institute Technology, a computer science and artificial intelligence research lab that will open in next year in Cambridge, Mass.

More than 40 Catalyst 6500s will go into the facility, providing 10/100/1000 ports to users at the LAN edge, and with 10G uplinks to the core. Installing network pipes this fat in the new facility was an easy decision, says Jack Costanza, director of IT for Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence laboratories at the university.

“We want to make sure that slow network plumbing won’t be the thing that stops people from conducting cutting-edge research,” he says.