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Cisco Employee
Cisco Employee

With the advent of Wi-Fi 6/6E and smart & sustainable buildings, there is a growing demand for high-density multigigabit and high power over ethernet ports at the access. Cisco has recently expanded its modular access switching portfolio and announced the addition of Generation 2 Supervisors to its Catalyst 9400 product line with support starting IOS-XE 17.7.1.  It has also introduced 2 new line cards i.e., 48x full mGig & UPOE+ (90W PoE) and the 48x 1/10 Gbps fiber with support starting IOS-XE 17.8.1. These next-generation Supervisors and Line Cards provide maximum investment protection while enabling a high-performance access solution for the industry demands of today and tomorrow. 

The expanded portfolio of the Cisco Catalyst® 9400 Series switches enables the same chassis to now provide non-oversubscribed 9.6 Tbps system bandwidth (with SUP-2XL) and industry-leading power over ethernet delivery with high-density IEEE 802.3bt PoE (60 W and 90W) options.  

A single system can scale up to 384 access ports of 1G or 10G speeds via copper (mGig) or fiber at line rate. The increased bandwidth can also enable aggregation deployment for some small or medium-sized campus environments. 

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Figure 1. C9400 Generation 2 Supervisors and Line Cards 

The X Factor  

The X factor means the enhanced capabilities (up to 6x slot bandwidth and up to 5x uplink bandwidth) offered by the new Supervisor Engines. Supervisor 2XL and Supervisor 2 enable more bandwidth per slot, higher scale, higher uplink capacity, and improved software capabilities (app hosting and POE HA capable) in comparison to Supervisor 1 options.  

  • The Cisco Catalyst C9400X-SUP-2XL supervisor engine provides improved performance and scalability with 4x 100 Gbps uplinks  


 Figure 2. C9400X-SUP-2XL Supervisor Engine 

It enables full chassis capacity throughput of 480 Gbps per slot for all chassis types and 4x 100 Gbps uplink ports in single and dual supervisor modes. The 2XL supervisor delivers 9.6 Tbps bandwidth and 3 Bpps forwarding performance. The Cisco Catalyst C9400X-SUP-2XL supervisor engine can support advanced routing (up to 8x route scale compared to SUP 1) and infrastructure services such as Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS), Software-Defined Access control, and border capabilities.  

  • The Cisco Catalyst C9400X-SUP-2 supervisor engine is designed for Access deployments with up to 4x100 Gbps uplinks. 


 Figure 3. C9400X-SUP-2 Supervisor Engine 

The C9400X-SUP-2 enables up to 240 Gbps per slot for all chassis types as well as provides the same software feature set as SUP-2XL.

Cisco UADP 3.0sec ASIC 

The new Supervisor 2XL and Supervisor 2 are powered by UADP 3.0sec ASIC that provides up to 1.6T bandwidth, increased routing capabilities, higher buffer capacity as well as hardware support for IPsec and WAN MACsec. UADP 3.0sec ASIC comes with a unified packet buffer shared between the cores that helps with improved microbursts abortion. 

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 Figure 4. C9400X-SUP-2XL/SUP-2 using UADP 3.0sec ASIC Highlights

Gen 2 Line Cards 

The new line card C9400-LC-48HX delivers 48x full mGig ports compliant with IEEE 802.3bt (for up to 90W) standard on all ports. Every port can support speeds of 10G, 5G, 2.5G, 1G, and 100M. The line card enables high power over ethernet port densities: 224 concurrent 90W ports on 10-slot chassis and 226 on 7-slot chassis using the 8x 3200W power supplies in combined mode. This new line card offers an ideal solution for high-density deployments of Wi-Fi 6/6E access points for enhanced performance of high-bandwidth applications such as augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) and real-time immersive gaming. With 90W on every port, it also enables dense PoE connectivity for more intelligent and power-hungry Smart Building endpoints such as daisy-chained LED lights, USB-C dongles for laptop charging, smart desks, UHD cameras, and more.

The new line card C9400-LC-48XS supports 48x 1/10G fiber ports. With C9400X-SUP-2XL and 10-slot chassis, the system can provide up to 384x 10G fiber ports at line rate. This enables the use case for connecting an additional access layer or distributed access compact switch deployment.

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 Figure 5. C9400-LC-48XS and C9400-LC-48HX Line Cards overview 

The UADP 3.0sec based supervisors provide a significant bandwidth boost to the existing line cards, helping customers make the most of their existing infrastructure and investments. The SUP2 and SUP2-XL increase the Gen 1 line card bandwidth capacity to 240G and 480G respectively eliminating the current oversubscription completely. 

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 Figure 6. Bandwidth boost with C9400-SUP-2XL/SUP-2 

Deployment Flexibility  

C9400X enables dense 10G SFP+ aggregation and multigigabit access use cases allowing the varied deployment options for access, collapsed access/aggregation, and aggregation in some cases.  

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Cisco Catalyst 9400 Series switches deliver mission-critical high availability with capabilities such as Nonstop Forwarding and Stateful Switchover (NSF/SSO), In-Service Software Upgrades (ISSU), uplink resiliency, and N+1/N+N redundancy for power supplies.  

Since Supervisor 2XL and Supervisor 2 use the same chassis, power supplies, and fan tray, the C9400X series maintains this comprehensive HA feature set providing the sub-second failover times. 

The X factor also brings in enhanced app hosting capability by significantly increasing the application hosting interface bandwidth as well as the number of supported interfaces. Now there are 2 dedicated 10G links allowing customers to run concurrent apps utilizing independent high-speed network connections. 

Catalyst 9400X vs 9400 Supervisors 

The C9400X increases the hardware capacity. The Gen 2 supervisors are equipped with an 8 core CPU, which enables 4.8Tbps of chassis capacity, and 480G bandwidth per slot with 100G uplinks. The figure below highlights the key differences between the Supervisor models.  

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The Gen 2 Supervisors are also hardware capable of supporting higher layer 2, layer 3, and ACL scale i.e., up to 128K MACs, 256K IP (v4 and v6) routes (LPM +host), 64K MPLS labels, 64K SGT/OG labels and improved Sec and QoS ACL entries. Software support for custom SDM templates to achieve this scale will be added in the future. The following table lists the default scale at launch and a comparison with UADP 2.0XL based Gen 1 Supervisors. 

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C9400X for continued market Leadership 

The Catalyst 9400 family of switches, with the added X factor, are well-positioned to continue their leadership in the enterprise modular access/distribution segment. These switches now offer full mGig/10G and 90W UPOE+, full 10G fiber, 100G uplinks, enhanced app hosting capabilities with higher throughput and scale. They offer a right-sized solution for customers across verticals and deliver enterprise-grade features covering key use cases seen in the industry -  Full Stack Security, Smart Buildings and IoT Convergence, Segmentation, App Visibility, and Service Assurance.  


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