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Upgrade Cisco Cat 6500 to 10G

Posted on 2013-11-27
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Last Modified: 2014-04-12
I am looking to upgrade my pair of Cisco 6509 switches to support 10G networking for iSCSI and Hyper-V 2012 R2. My current environment consists of two Cisco 2960G top of rack switches connected via a two port LAG to the 6509s. I am looking to cost effectively upgrade my network to allow me to use 10G on four servers and a new iSCSI SAN. I am thinking about new top of rack switches and I would like to connect back to my 6509s with 10G, or I would also consider connecting everything back to my 6509s as I only need about 5 or 6 10G ports per switch.

I was told that if I added 10G supervisor that it would still be slow because all of my other modules are old. Is this true? Here is a representative output of the modules on one of my switches. What are my options? I got the high speed fan tray and 3000W power supplies when I upgraded to SUP32.

switch>sh mod
Mod Ports Card Type                              Model              Serial No.
--- ----- -------------------------------------- ------------------ -----------
  1   16  16 port 1000mb MTRJ ethernet           WS-X6416-GE-MT     SAD04360XXX
  3   48  48 port 10/100 mb RJ45                 WS-X6348-RJ-45     SAD04240XXX
  5   48  48-port 10/100/1000 RJ45 EtherModule   WS-X6148A-GE-TX    SAL1029VXXX
  6    9  Supervisor Engine 32 8GE (Active)      WS-SUP32-GE-3B     SAD11060XXX
  8   48  48 port 10/100 mb RJ45                 WS-X6348-RJ-45     SAD04240XXX
  9   48  48-port 10/100 mb RJ45                 WS-X6148-45AF      SAL09370XXX

Mod MAC addresses                       Hw    Fw           Sw           Status
--- ---------------------------------- ------ ------------ ------------ -------
  1  0001.6460.XXXX to 0001.6460.XXXX   1.1   5.4(2)       8.5(0.46)RFW Ok
  3  0001.9717.XXXX to 0001.9717.XXXX   1.1   5.3(1)       8.5(0.46)RFW Ok
  5  000a.b8de.XXXX to 000a.b8de.XXXX   1.4   8.4(1)       8.5(0.46)RFW Ok
  6  001a.a229.XXXX to 001a.a229.XXXX   4.5   12.2(18r)SX2 12.2(18)SXF7 Ok
  8  00b0.c2f5.XXXX to 00b0.c2f5.XXXX   1.1   5.3(1)       8.5(0.46)RFW Ok
  9  0015.6281.XXXX to 0015.6281.XXXX   3.0   8.3(1)       8.5(0.46)RFW Ok

Mod  Sub-Module                  Model              Serial       Hw     Status
---- --------------------------- ------------------ ----------- ------- -------
  3  Inline Power Module         WS-F6K-PWR                      1.0    Ok
  6  Policy Feature Card 3       WS-F6K-PFC3B       SAD1105XXXX  2.3    Ok
  6  Cat6k MSFC 2A daughterboard WS-F6K-MSFC2A      SAD1106XXXX  4.0    Ok
  8  Inline Power Module         WS-F6K-PWR                      1.0    Ok
  9  IEEE Voice Daughter Card    WS-F6K-FE48-AF     SAL0936XXXX  1.5    Ok

Mod  Online Diag Status
---- -------------------
  1  Pass
  3  Pass
  5  Pass
  6  Pass
  8  Pass
  9  Pass

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Question by:kevinhsieh
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by:gsmartin
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Q. Which line cards are supported by Sup32?
A. All classic line cards and all CEF256 line cards (without a Distributed Forwarding Card [DFC]) are supported at FCS.

Q. Which line cards are not supported by Sup32?
A. The following series of line cards are not supported by Sup32: WS-X67XX, WS-X68XX, SFM, and DFC-based cards.
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by:gsmartin
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The only 10Gb supported with the Sup32 is on the supervisor engine card(s).  The Sup32 is only capable of 32Gbps vs the Sup720 that is capable of 720Gbps.  Unfortunately, your Sup32 model has (8) 1Gb GE ports vs the (2) 10GB port Sup32 model.  

Now to be able to support at least the (6) 10Gb ports per 6509 Chassis would require  upgrading both 6509s to Sup720.  With Sup720s you would require basically a complete fork-lift upgrade of your 6509s.  Your legacy modules will dumb down the backplane performance.  So that is the unfortunate part of legacy modules.  

I went through this same exercise several years ago.  The funny thing was I came into the company where the previous IT Manager had purchased a bunch of refurbished upgrades for our 6509 chassis.  The problem was he bought a first Gen Sup720 with upgraded fan tray and power supply, but we still had a bunch of legacy modules that dumb down the 6509 switch.  Effectively, I had to look at a whole new switch including moving to a 6509-E chassis with 6000 Watt power supplies and Sup720-10Gb-3C.  The quote I received was extremely costly.  

So at the time, I considered my options and looked at other switch vendors.  Long story short, I ended up going with Foundry Networks (now Brocade) BigIron RX-16, which is equivalent in size to the 6509, but with much more flexible and with greater 10Gb density, and with a 1.6Tbps backplane (more than twice the performance of Cisco).  Cisco runs oversubscribed vs the BigIron primarily running undersubscribed.   It also supports 16 half-height modules not including management and Fabric modules.  Fully populated chassis can run on 5 to 8 individual power supplies at either 110v or 208v.  Now given the 10Gb modules come in either 2, 4, or 16 10Gb ports per half-height.  The best selling part for me is no legacy issues and no different generations of Supervisor Engines and modules.  No performance degradation.  The icing on the cake is all modules are handle distribution vs the central processing/distribution on the 6509; unless you have the upgraded modules that support the 15K (per) distribution daughter card on each module.  There 's more, I was able to get more than double the number of 10Gb ports on my order vs Cisco and still saved a over 30k without any need to trade in my equipment.

Note I was an ex-Cisco Network Consult for a large global professional service provider and have been in IT for 20 years.  Today, I don 't regret my decision to move away from Cisco; where applicable.  There were two many factors that made Cisco a bad choice.

Sorry, I wasn't expecting to go into all of that.
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by:kevinhsieh
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I didn't even know that there was a 10G Sup32. They're only nominally about $1000 on eBay right now. I certainly don't plan on replacing our current 6509s as they do everything I currently need them to do, old modules are really cheap, and we only pay for electricity + my time, so they're really inexpensive to keep, even if I only use them as a really large L3 distribution switch for my 100 Mb workstations with some Gig thrown in. I don't need massive performance out of my 6509s. Could I upgrade to the 10G Sup 32 and then use the 10G ports to connect to my 10G Force10/Arista/Brocade/Cisco L3 ToR switches? With 10G connecting the ToR to the Core, I am not worried about saturating those links, and I can use OSPF to handle routing and we can tolerate the several seconds it would take for RSTP to converge. It seems like a cheap way to keep my investment in the 6509s while still being able to invest in some higher performance networking.
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by:kevinhsieh
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@gsmartin, can I go to the 10G Sup 32?
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gsmartin earned 500 total points
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Sorry, I've been tied up with a big project.  FYI... I recalled the reason I needed the 6509-E with the 6000 Watt powers supplies was due to POE.

To your question:  Yes.  With the Sup32-10G all Cisco Catalyst 6500 Series chassis with fan tray 2 or E-Series fan tray and 2500W power supplies or above are compatible.

Alternately, I would actually recommend you to go with the Supervisor Engine 720 this will give you a backplane throughput of 720Gbps, which is up to 400Mpps for Cisco Express Forwarding vs. up to 15Mpps for IPv4 services on the Sup32.  The Sup-720-3CXL is compatible with all Cisco Catalyst 6500 Series chassis and Cisco 7600 Series chassis with fan tray 2.

http://www.cisco.com/en/US/prod/collateral/modules/ps2797/ps5972/product_data_sheet0900aecd801c5cab_ps708_Products_Data_Sheet.html

http://www.cisco.com/en/US/prod/collateral/switches/ps5718/ps708/product_data_sheet09186a0080159856_ps2797_Products_Data_Sheet.html

http://www.cisco.com/en/US/products/hw/switches/ps708/products_tech_note09186a0080a70cda.shtml

Here's a breakdown of your modules and their compatibility with the  Sup32 or Sup720.

Ethernet/Fast Ethernet (10/100) Switching Modules  
Supported Supervisor Engine and Minimum Software Requirements
Product            Supported Supervisor Engine      Minimum Software Version
WS-X6148-45AF       SUP2                                 12.2 (17d)SXB
WS-X6348-RJ-45       SUP720 SUP32 SUP2             12.2(14)SX 12.2(18)SXF 12.2(17d)SXB
WS-X6348-RJ-45       SUP720 SUP32 SUP2             12.2(14)SX 12.2(18)SXF 12.2(17d)SXB

10/100/1000 Ethernet Switching Modules  
Product            Supported Supervisor Engine      Minimum Software Version
WS-X6148-GE-TX       SUP720 SUP32 SUP2             12.2(18)SXF 12.2(18)SXF 12.2(18)SXF 2  
WS-X6416-GE-MT       SUP720 SUP32 SUP2             12.2(14)SX 12.2(18)SXF 12.2(17d)SXB

Based on this you would only need to replace your WS-X6148-45AF switching module.  Then with the Sup720 you will be able to get more 10Gb ports by adding 10Gb modules.

The pricing for 6509-E chassis, supervisors, and modules are very cheap on E-bay and other sites.  So you should be able to build it out however you prefer.  Just make sure you use compatible modules.  Also, note the 6509 chassis has a power supply limit of 4000 Watts where the E-Chassis are not restricted.  However, the 3000 Watt power supplies should be suffice unless you decided to go POE.
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by:kevinhsieh
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I thought about going to a pair of 6509-E chassis. The problem is that I have so much cabling attached that it would take a while to migrate everything off so that I could pull the existing chassis out and replace it. It looks like DFC3x is only compatible with Sup720. Can I get ws-SUP720-3b with WS-X6708-10G-3C? Or would I need to go to SUP720-3C? This all makes me think about just going to Dell PowerConnect 8132 10G L3 switches!
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by:kevinhsieh
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I ended up getting SUP720-3B and WS-X6708-10G-3C for 10G. I replaced all of my copper cards with WS-X6548-GE-45AF. I didn't realize that the WS-6548 cards are 8:1 oversubscribed, so I may get some WS-X6748-GE-TX where I don't need PoE. I was able to reuse one of my 6509 chassis and power supplies, and I bought a 6509E chassis. Everything was really dirt cheap other than the 10G card, the labor involved. I also needed to bump up my power to 208V.
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