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Under the Hood: Unveiling the next gen campus core architecture with Cisco Catalyst 9600 Series

Cisco Employee

The long-awaited Cisco Catalyst 9600 Series switches are now here.  As foundational building blocks for the Cisco Digital Network Architecture, Catalyst 9600 Series switches help customers simplify complexity, optimize IT, and reduce operational costs by leveraging intelligence, automation and human expertise regardless of where you are in the intent-based networking journey.  These switches are the next generation of the industry leading business-critical modular enterprise campus core and distribution platform.  The Cisco Catalyst 9600 Series 6-slot chassis (C9606R) is hardware ready to support a switching capacity of up to 25.6 Tbps (counting both TX and RX).  The platform delivers high availability with field replaceable dual supervisors, redundant power supplies and fans.  The compact chassis is campus-optimized with an innovative dual-serviceable fan tray design and side-to-side air flow.


The C9606R 6-slot chassis has two middle slots dedicated for the supervisors and four slots for the line cards.  Each line card slot is designed to support bandwidth of up to 6.4 Tbps.  The C9606R chassis can provide a maximum of 128 ports of 40G/100G or 192 ports of 1G/10G/25G at line rate (no oversubscription).


The Catalyst 9600 Series is based on a centralized architecture.   All forwarding, security, service and queueing are done on the supervisor.  The line cards are functionally transparent, containing only PHY transceivers and control logics.  The simplicity of this centralized design allows easy upgrade of features and additional bandwidth by just upgrading the supervisor while keeping the existing line cards.  The combination of the centralized architecture and transparent line cards also provide uninterrupted supervisor switchover which is the foundation for in-service software upgrade (ISSU).





The Catalyst 9600 Series Supervisor-1 is powered by 3x UADP 3.0 ASIC and 8-core X86 CPU Processor and runs on open Cisco IOS. The Cisco UADP 3.0 is a dual-core future-ready for next-generation technologies ASIC.  It provides programmable pipeline, microengine capabilities and template-based configurable allocation of Layer 2, Layer 3, forwarding, ACL, and Quality-of-Service (QoS) entries.  It also has double-wide memory table sizes to store both IPv4 (32bit) and IPv6 (128bit) address in a single entry. The three UADP 3.0 ASICs are interconnected with 3.2 Tbps ASIC interconnect on each ASIC.  The ASIC Interconnected uses a broadcast network to ensure traffic reaches all other ASICs.  The Supervisor-1 doesn’t have any uplinks, but any line cards ports can be used for uplinks.




Cisco Catalyst 9600 Series provides two line card modules


C9600-LC-24C provides line rate performance with 24 ports QSFP+ which is 40G or 12 ports of QSFP28 which is 100G.  This line card is hardware capable of all 24 ports at 100G and future supervisor can enable that.





C9400-LC-48YL is a 48 port multi-rate SFP28/SFP+/SFP module.  This module supports line rate performance for all ports at 25G and/or 10G as of 16.11.1 release.  Future software release will add the 1G support on this module as well.  This line card is also hardware capable of supporting 50G.  Future supervisor can unlock this capability.





Cisco Catalyst 9600 Series switches, just like other Cisco Catalyst 9000 switches, are built on a common architecture with strong hardware and software foundation.  This commonality and consistency bring simplicity and ease of operations for network architects and administrators, reducing total operational cost and creating a better user experience.


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