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Cisco Announces New Nexus 7700 and Fabric Architecture

The new Cisco Nexus 7700 core switch is built for bandwidth, while Dynamic Fabric Automation aims to make data center networks more flexible and easier to configure.

Cisco continued its product announcements at Cisco Live this week with the Nexus 7700 switch family, and Dynamic Fabric Automation, an architecture for creating a network fabric that supports physical and virtual environments and streamlines switch configuration and management.

Cisco says it has more than 40,000 Nexus 7000 chassis in the field. Now it has two more switches to add to the 7000 family with the Nexus 7700 line. The 7700 has a maximum throughput of 83 Tbps, and a single system can have up to 384 40-GigE ports or 192 100-GigE ports. As with other switches in the 7000 line, the 7700s will include dual redundant supervisor modules to enable software upgrades without losing packets. The 7700 line will come in two versions: a 10-slot 7710 and an 18-slot 7718. Cisco says the chassis will be available in July.

Cisco also announced new F3 I/O modules for the 7000 series, including 24-port 40-GigE and 12-port 100-GigE line cards for the 7700 and 12-port 40-Gig line cards for the other switches in the 7000 series. The F3 module supports MPLS, VPLS, FabricPath, LISP and OTV natively. The F3 modules are expected to ship in the fourth quarter of this year.

[Nexus isn't the only Cisco hardware to get new products. The company also announced a new entry in its Catalyst family. Get the details in "Cisco Catalyst 6800: Same Game, New Name."]

It's been a good quarter for muscular switches. This May, Arista's new 7500E data center switch won the Best of Interop award in part due to its specs, including a 30-Tbps backplane. The 7500E supports 10-, 40- and 100-GigE ports, and boasts sub-4 μsec latency within a chassis.

Cisco also announced the Dynamic Fabric Automation (DFA) architecture, a fabric designed to unify physical and virtual switching and support east-west traffic. DFA is built around a spine-and-leaf concept using Nexus hardware. The spine is a distributed backplane, and every leaf node connects to every spine switch.

According to Cisco, no physical or virtual machine will be more than two hops from any other. Cisco also says that DFA will support power-on provisioning, so that when a new network device is added to the fabric, it can grab a configuration from a pre-defined template.

As you might imagine, DFA requires a variety of Cisco products to implement. The fabric is managed with Cisco's Data Center Network Manager (DCNM) 7.0, which acts as a central console where administrators can provision individual devices as well as create common configurations for groups or types of devices.

DFA also requires the use of FabricPath for multipathing and loop prevention. On the hardware side, the fabric is built around the Nexus family, including the 5000s in the spine and 6000s and 7000s as leaf or spine nodes. On the virtual side, customers will need to deploy the Nexus 1000v. More details are available here.

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