Network technologies and trends

July 31, 2011  12:59 PM

How to read a Nexus 7000 Series Switch line card naming convention?

Yasir Irfan Yasir Irfan Profile: Yasir Irfan

Whenever you are trying to place an order or trying the figure out the details of the Nexus 7000 Series line care follow the below breakdown of how to read the nomenclature and understand what it is tell you.

Example N7K-M132XP-12

  • N7K = denotes Nexus 7K chassis blade
  • M1 = denotes L2 and L3 capable line card; F would denote only L2 capable
  • 32 = 32 ports are supported
  • X = each port is capable of 10Gbps
  • P = SPF+ port types
  • -1 = first generation fabric line card
  • 2 = means that 2 crossbar fabric cards are required to use this line card at its full potential.

July 31, 2011  12:52 PM

What is CMP in Nexus 7000 Series Supervisor Module?

Yasir Irfan Yasir Irfan Profile: Yasir Irfan

The Connectivity Management Processor (CMP) is separate processor on the Cisco Nexus 7000 Series supervisor module that is in addition to the main control processor (CP). The CMP provides a second network interface to the device for use even when the CP is not reachable. You can access the CMP to configure it and to perform system operations, such as taking over the CP console or restarting the CP. The CMP can reset all system components, including power supplies; it can also reset the host supervisor module to which it is attached, enabling a complete system restart.

The Connectivity Management Processor (CMP) available even if its supervisor module is in standby mode or the device is down because of issues such as over-temperature alarms. Each CMP gets power from an auxiliary power bus in the device that remains operational so long as you have at least one power cable attached to the device.

All these options are available through the Connectivity Management Processor (CMP) because it contains its own RAM, bootflash, and front panel management Ethernet port.

The Connectivity Management Processor (CMP) provides the following functions:

• Communicates with the supervisor module and I/O modules even if Cisco NX-OS device is not responding on the mgmt0 port.

• Maintains connectivity when you reboot the supervisor module.

• Monitors the supervisor module console port.

• Reboots the local supervisor module or the entire system.

• Takes over the supervisor module console port.

• Collects failure logs and watches bootup diagnostic messages.

July 31, 2011  12:32 PM

Over View of Nexus Supervisor Engine 1

Yasir Irfan Yasir Irfan Profile: Yasir Irfan

Currently Supervisor Engine 1 is the only supervisor Engine Module available for the Nexus 7000 Series Switch, which is designed to provide a scalable control plane and management functions based on dual core processor. Cisco recommends to have two supervisor Engines per chassis in an active/standby mode.

The Supervisor Engine 1 Module provides the following

  • Dual-core 1.66Ghz Intel Xeon processors with 4GB DRAM
  • 2MB NVRAM, 2GB internal boot disk, 2 external compact flash slots
  • 10/100/1000bps management port
  • Console and Auxiliary serial ports
  • USB file transfer port
  • Connectivity Management Processor (CMP) with separate 10/100/1000 Ethernet access that will support 802.1ae LinkSec encryption in the future.
  • Supervisory modules run in Active/Standby mode for continuous operation

The most interesting part of Supervisor Engine 1 for me is the Connectivity Management Processor (CMP) which is basically designed to support remote management and troubleshooting of the system. Since a lot of information is available about Supervisor Engine 1, in my next post I will try to highlight the importance of Connectivity Management Processor (CMP) in the Supervisor Engine 1.

July 31, 2011  10:23 AM

Microsoft ready with Mango RTM!

Yasir Irfan Yasir Irfan Profile: Yasir Irfan

Microsoft is ready with RTM (Release to Manufactures build) of its news “Mango” update for its Windows Phone operating System.  This allows the mobile manufacturers to start using the Mango OS on their forthcoming mobile handsets.

According industry experts the first ever Mango powered phone is expected to hit the selves later this year; however an official timescale for release has not yet been disclosed.

Terry Myerson, Corporate Vice President of Windows Phone Engineering said, “This marks the point in the development process where we hand code to our handset and mobile operator partners to optimize Mango for their specific phone and network configurations. Here on the Windows Phone team, we now turn to preparing for the update process. The Mango update for current Windows Phone handsets will be ready this fall, and of course will come pre-installed on new Windows Phones.”

The new Windows Phone Mango update will bring close to 500 new features to the OS. Some of these include integration with Internet Explorer 9 and app multi-tasking. I am waiting eagerly to see how Microsoft will try impact the smartphone market with its new OS.

July 31, 2011  9:54 AM

Key differences between a Nexus 7010 and 7018 Switches – Series 4

Yasir Irfan Yasir Irfan Profile: Yasir Irfan

One more difference I came across among Nexus 7010 and Nexus 7018 Switch is the power supplies, the Nexus 7010 Switch can hold up to three load sharing, fault tolerant , hot-swappable power supplies.  Whereas the Nexus 7018 switch can hold up to four load sharing, fault tolerant, hot-swappable power supplies. The Nexus 7010 Switch requires 9kW of max power , where as the Nexus 7018 Switch requires 15 kW of max power

When it comes to power supplies, same power supplies can be used in both the Nexus 7010 and 7018 switches.

Currently there are three power supplies for the Nexus 7000 switches, two that are AC powered and one that is DC powered.   There is a 6000 kW AC (N7K-AC-6.0KW), a 7500 kW AC (N7k-AC-7.5KW), and finally a 6000 kW DC (N7K-DC-6.0KW) power supply.

The Nexus 7000 Series Switches can be configured in four power redundancy modes as follows

1)      Combined

2)      Power Supply redundancy (N+1)

3)      Input Source redundancy ( grid redundancy)

4)      Power Supply and input source redundancy (full redundancy)

The Nexus 7000 Series Switches are sensitive to variations in voltage supplied by the AC power source. Over voltage, under voltage and spikes can erase data from the memory or cause components to fail. To protect against these kind problems it’s highly recommended to ground power cables.

Pictures of the power supplies are below with the 6000 kW on the left, the 7.5KW on the right and the DC powered one below.

July 31, 2011  8:09 AM

Key differences between a Nexus 7010 and 7018 Switches – Series 3

Yasir Irfan Yasir Irfan Profile: Yasir Irfan

The other difference I have noticed between a Nexus 7010 and Nexus 7018 Switches is the way the cooling works. The Nexus 7010 and Nexus 7018 Switches are cooled using the fan trays which are found at the back of Nexus 7000 Series chassis.

The Nexus 7018 Switch applies side to side airflow , the Nexus 7018 fan module  (N7K-C7018-FAN) is larger and contains more fans compared to Nexus 7010 fan module.  The Nexus 7018 chassis houses dual fan modules in a fully redundant architecture and provides efficient cooling using variable speed fans.

The advantage of side to side airflow in Nexus 7018 increases the system density within a 25-rack unit footprint, optimizing the use of rack space.

The Nexus 7018 Switch dissipates up to 51,195 BTUs per hour

Whereas the Nexus 7010 Switch applies front to back airflow, and the 7010 fan module (N7K-C7010-FAN) is a smaller due to the chassis airflow is front to back.

The Nexus 7010 Switch dissipates up to 35,162 BTUs per hour.

When it comes to the Nexus 7018 Switch airflow, Panduit has an excellent solution and special rack to accommodate the airflow in a cold aisle/hot aisle data center.

July 31, 2011  5:27 AM

Key differences between a Nexus 7010 and 7018 Switches – Series 2

Yasir Irfan Yasir Irfan Profile: Yasir Irfan

In my previous post I mentioned about the physical difference about Nexus 7010 and 7018 Switches, apart from physical differences there are some other difference between these switches.

The next difference between a Cisco Nexus 7010 and a Nexus 7018 Switch is the slot capacity and performance.

The Nexus 7010 Series Switch is a modular 10-slot chassis with slots 5 and 6 are reserved for Supervisor Engines (SUP 1) and can accommodate up to eight line cards.  Whereas the Nexus 7018 Series Switch is an 18 slot chassis and slots 9 and 10 are reserved for supervisor engines, with 16 slots available for the line cards.

The Nexus 7010 and Nexus 7018 Series Switches can accommodate up to 5 fabric modules, you cannot use the same fabric cards for Nexus 7010 and 7018 switches, as the Nexus 7010 Switch is designed to mount line cards or fabric cards vertically whereas the Nexus 7018 Switches are designed for horizontal mount. Whereas all other line cards and Supervisor Engines, are interchangeable between Nexus 7010 and 7018 Switches. The Fabric Card slots are designed at the back side of the Nexus switches.

The Nexus 7018 Switch fabric module (N7k-C7018-FAB-1)

The Nexus 7010 Switch Fabric module (N7K-C7010-FAB-1)

Currently the Nexus 7000 Series Switches performance specs are as follows

  • Up to 1.2 Tb/s system bandwidth.
  • Up to 480 mpps system switching.
  • Up to 80 Gb/s and 60 mpps per slot.

July 30, 2011  6:31 AM

Key differences between a Nexus 7010 and 7018 Switches – Series 1

Yasir Irfan Yasir Irfan Profile: Yasir Irfan

We all know the introduction of Nexus 7000 Series brought the revolution to Data Centers; Nexus 7000 Series Switches are quite different from the traditional Cisco Catalyst 6500 Series Switches.  Nexus 7000 Switches comes in two models the Nexus 7010 a 10-slot switch and Nexus 7018 an 18-slot switch. The key difference between the Nexus 7000 Series Switches and Cisco Catalyst 6500 Series Switches is the Nexus 7000 Series Switches does not run on Cisco IOS software rather they on run NX-OS, a Linux based operating system derived from SAN-OS. As we proceed I will discuss some of the key features of NX-OS.

Some of my friends asked me what are the differences between a Nexus 7010 and 7018 Switches, thought of covering their questions over this post.

The first difference is the size and weight.   The Nexus 7010 is 36.5″ (92.7 cm) tall and can weigh up to 235 kg (516 lb) whereas the Nexus 7018 is 43.5″ tall (110.5 cm) and can weigh up to 316 kg (696 lb) fully loaded.  The Nexus 7010 Switch is a 21 RU switch whereas the Nexus 7018 is 25 RU Switch. Never ever think of installing two Nexus 7010 Switch in a single rack as two fully loaded Nexus 7010 can constitutes up to half a ton of weight which any Data Center raise floor or rack cannot withstand. So you need to be quite careful and aware when the designing the space layout for Nexus 7000 Series Switches. I would recommend Panduit Net-Access 7018 Cabinets which are specially designed for Cisco Nexus 7000 Series Switches.

July 20, 2011  5:37 AM

Supervisor Engine 2T is born!

Yasir Irfan Yasir Irfan Profile: Yasir Irfan

12 July 2011 is a yet another landmark in the Switching, Cisco Systems introduced the a new Supervisor Engine for their most widely deployed Cisco Catalyst 6500 Series Switch, yeah a new Supervisor Engine 2T is born.

The new innovation provides the customers of Cisco Catalyst 6500 Series Switch with enormous capabilities. This decade witnessed the growth of video traffic, cloud computing is popularizing, to meet all these business demands in upcoming years Cisco Systems are ready with the Supervisor Engine 2T.

We all know the legacy and popularity of Cisco Catalyst 6500 Series Switches, a de facto industry standard switching platform at the heart of the world’s campus, data center, WAN, and Metro Ethernet networks.

The Catalyst 6500 led the industry’s port transition first from Fast Ethernet speeds to Gigabit Ethernet and then to 10 Gigabit Ethernet.

With introduction of Nexus Series of Switches I was bit afraid what Cisco is going to with the introduction of a new Supervisor Engine for Cisco Catalyst 6500 Series Switch? The introduction of Cisco Catalyst 6500 Series Supervisor Engine 2T on July 12th 2011 eased my curiosity.

The Cisco Catalyst 6500 Series Supervisor Engine 2T has lot to offer, a state of art 2-terabit card that unlocks 80 gigabits per second per slot, new feature-rich 10-gigabit and 10-Gigabit Ethernet line cards, and next-generation borderless services that provide customers with new mobility, security, network analysis and load balancing capabilities.

The Cisco Catalyst 6500 Series Supervisor Engine 2T  is compatible with all Cisco E-Series chassis models, offering minimal intervention to the existing Catalyst 6500 E-Series infrastructure. The new Catalyst 6500 Series is available now and the SUP2T has a list price of $38,000.

Some of the features of the Cisco Catalyst 6500 Series Supervisor Engine 2T   are as follows

  • Maintain investment protection through backward compatibility
  • Deliver scalability and performance improvements such as distributed forwarding (dCEF) 720Mpps with the fourth-generation Policy Feature Card (PFC4)
  • Support future 40Gbps interface and nonblocking 10Gbps modules
  • Enable new applications and services with hardware accelerated VPLS, Layer 2 over mGRE for Network Virtualization
  • Take advantage of integrated Connectivity Management Processor (CMP) for improved out-of-band management.

The Supervisor Engine 2T maintains backward compatibility with released line cards, chassis, and power supplies.

July 6, 2011  10:07 AM

The layer 3 link between Nexus 7010 and Cisco 6506 E Switches is frequently going down part 2

Yasir Irfan Yasir Irfan Profile: Yasir Irfan

In my previous post I was talking about the problem we were facing with connectivity between Cisco 6500 Series switch and Cisco Nexus 7010 Switch. While troubleshooting we figured out there were no issues either with configuration of physical media (Fiber optic cable), the problem turned out to with 10GBASE X2 modules. Though the distance between these two locations is hardly 250 meters and there was a multimode fiber optic cable (supports 10G) running between these two locations. Initially a Cisco X2-10 GB-LX4 module was installed at Cisco 6500 Series Switch and at the Nexus 7010 we had a SFP SR Module.

Table 1. X2 Port Cabling Specifications

Cisco X2 Wavelength (nm) Cable Type Core Size (microns) Modal Bandwidth (MHz*km) Cable Distance*
Cisco X2-10GB-CX4 CX4 (copper) 15m
Cisco X2-10GB-SR 850 MMF 62.5















Cisco X2-10GB-LRM 1310 MMF 62.5









SMF G.652 300m
Cisco X2-10GB-LX4 1310 MMF 62.5









Cisco X2-10GB-LR 1310 SMF G.652 10 km
Cisco X2-10GB-ER** 1550 SMF G.652 40 km***

Intially everything looked good but after three months the problems aroused and the link start disconnecting, with the following errors

2011 Jun 12 09:05:03 VDC-Admin-CO01-MB-1256-001 %ETHPORT-5-IF_UP: Interface Ethernet1/17 is up in Layer3

2011 Jun 12 09:05:04 VDC-Admin-CO01-MB-1256-001 %ETHPORT-5-IF_DOWN_LINK_FAILURE: Interface Ethernet1/17 is down (Link failure)

2011 Jun 12 09:05:49 VDC-Admin-CO01-MB-1256-001 %ETHPORT-5-SPEED: Interface Ethernet1/17, operational speed changed to 10 Gbps

We figured out the multimode fiber optic cable used is of 62.5/125 microns. As per the Cisco X2 port cabling specifications we were supposed to use either Cisco X2-10GB-SR or Cisco X2-10GB-LX4 module at Cisco 6500 Series Switch and a SFP SR Module at Nexus 7010 Switch.

Seems like the problem occurred with the wavelength of fiber, once we replaced the Cisco X2-10GB-LX4 module with the Cisco X2-10GB-SR Module the problem was solved.

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