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Posted on 2013-07-01
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Last Modified: 2013-07-05
Hi,

I am looking for a switch that forwards IP multicast in hardwar than the software.
I found Catalyst 4500 series switches but are there more choices?trying to lower the cost?

KJ

IP Multicast on the Catalyst 4500 Series Switch

The Catalyst 4500 series switch supports an ASIC-based Integrated Switching Engine that provides Ethernet bridging at Layer 2 and IP routing at Layer 3. Because the ASIC is specifically designed to forward packets, the Integrated Switching Engine hardware provides very high performance with ACLs and QoS enabled. At wire-speed, forwarding in hardware is significantly faster than the CPU subsystem software, which is designed to handle exception packets.
The Integrated Switching Engine hardware supports interfaces for inter-VLAN routing and switchports for Layer 2 bridging. It also provides a physical Layer 3 interface that can be configured to connect with a host, a switch, or a router.
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Question by:JCORION
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Cisco switches are going to forward multicast in hardware (ie using an ASIC), as generally their general CPU isn't very powerful.  Layer 2 forwarding is pretty trivial.  Obviously you will need a layer 3 switch to forward multicast between layer 3 networks.  Catalyst 3750's (with the ipservices license) will do L3 multicast just fine.  Catalyst 29xx switches won't do L3, but will do L2 just fine.

Note the 'caveat' around 'exception packets'.  Tunnelled packets, PIM registers, and other packets that need processing by the control plane will impact the general CPU.

Cisco does promote the idea of 'forwarding in hardware' as it has a lot of investment in ASIC development.  I see it as neither right no wrong - just something to be aware of, as it is something their marketing people love to push.
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