News Release

Cisco Systems Announces Advanced Campus Switch Router Family

New Catalyst 8500 Platform Significantly Increases Performance, Maximizes Current Networking Investments and Maintains the Intelligence of Routed Backbone Networks
Apr 27, 1998

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- April 27, 1998 -- Cisco Systems, Inc. today announced the Catalyst. 8500 family of modular Campus Switch Routers (CSR). This new platform gives network managers additional options to build next-generation, multilayer, gigabit enterprise networks. Because of its hardware compatibility with the Catalyst 5500 switch, the new options also enable network managers to maximize their current infrastructure investments and avoid forklift upgrades.

The Catalyst 8500 CSR series consists of the modular Catalyst 8510, a 10 Gbps, 5-slot switch router and the Catalyst 8540, a 40 Gbps, 13-slot switch router. Both campus switch routers implement Cisco IOS. software to provide a variety of network services including reliability, security, management and Quality of Service (QoS) with additional support for CiscoAssure Policy Networking as it continues to expand.

High Performance, Capacity and Investment Protection for Enterprise Networks

The Catalyst 8510 provides aggregate throughput of 6 million packets per second (pps) for both Layer 2 and Layer 3 switching and supports up to 32 fully routed and switched 10/100 ports and up to 4 Gigabit Ethernet ports. Both Fast EtherChannel. and Gigabit EtherChannel capabilities can be established as one large load-sharing, redundant link with throughput ranging from 800 megabits to 4 gigabits of capacity.

The Catalyst 8540 provides a 40-Gbps switching fabric with aggregate throughput of 24 million pps. The Catalyst 8540 supports up to 128 fully routed 10/100 ports or 16 fully routed Gigabit Ethernet ports.

These data rates for the Catalyst 8500 series apply not only to IP and IPX traffic, but also to IP multicast and bridged traffic. This performance is a result of using high-speed application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) technology on each line card to perform the Layer 3 switching.

"Cisco has always been committed to providing leading-edge solutions while maintaining and protecting our customers' networking investments," said Jayshree Ullal, vice president of marketing, Enterprise line of business at Cisco Systems. "The Catalyst 8500 series combines Cisco IOS software and Catalyst 5500 hardware compatibility, which reinforces our commitment to investment protection for customers."

With customers' investment protection requirements in mind, Cisco optimized performance on the new 8510 line cards while still maintaining compatibility with the Catalyst 5500 multilayer switch. Thus, the 8510 line cards can be deployed in any of the lower five slots on the Catalyst 5500. Customers can choose to implement wire-speed routing in incremental steps, combining high performance gigabit solutions with the density and price/port costs of the Catalyst 5500.

With Cisco's recent announcements of new Catalyst 5000 family solutions (Feb. 10, 1998 and April 27, 1998) and further enhancements to the Cisco 7500 and 7200 series routers (March 17, 1998), users can continue to leverage Cisco technology leadership in both routing and switching to build scalable, intelligent networks.

Delivering Complete Layer 3 Services for Campus Networks

"The key to successful deployment of Layer 3 switches will be the quality of the routing protocols implemented," said Nick Lippis, president of Strategic Networks Consulting. "With Cisco IOS software, Cisco has clearly demonstrated industry leadership by deploying the largest internets in the world."

The Catalyst 8500 provides intelligent routing of IP packets without sacrificing any of the services that are required to build a scalable network. The Catalyst 8500 fully supports Cisco IOS software, which allows network managers to continue administering and managing their networks much as they do today while scaling their backbone bandwidths to gigabit speeds. The Catalyst 8500 series supports all the routing protocols that are used today in both campuses and the Internet. Additionally, the Catalyst 8500 series supports a host of other protocols like IGMP, GDP, PIM, DHCP, ICMP, and HSRP, which are necessary to build scalable, reliable networks.

The Catalyst 8500 is best suited for high-performance campus backbone applications requiring support for high densities of Fast Ethernet or Gigabit Ethernet ports and operating IP and IPX data protocols. For the many enterprises that require support for routing multiple data protocols and for interface connectivity to multiple interface media, Cisco's advanced, high-end 7500 routers continue to be the optimal solution.

Multiprotocol Support

Networks today incorporate many strategic protocols because the business applications built over them are strategic to the corporation. Some of these protocols are not routable (like NetBIOS and DECnet Local-Area Transport) and therefore must be bridged. Campus switches must be able to handle these protocols so network managers need not build parallel networks when migrating to gigabit switched networks.

In addition to providing nonblocking switching capacity and wire-speed throughput for IP, IPX, and IP Multicast, the Catalyst 8500 series provides the capability of wire-speed Layer 2 switching for these nonroutable protocols and is fully complaint with the IEEE 802.1d specifications.

The Catalyst 8500 supports Integrated Routing and Bridging (IRB), which allows network managers to route packets between routed interfaces, create bridge groups, and bridge the nonroutable packets among those interfaces. This feature allows network managers to upgrade their multiprotocol backbones with the Catalyst 8500 without having to build parallel networks, as is often required in the case with IP-only switches.

Policy Networking with CiscoAssure

CiscoAssure Policy Networking enables business users and applications to use the intelligence that is embedded in a network. A variety of CiscoAssure policy networking options on the Catalyst 8500 series bring application-aware network services to the enterprise. These include advanced QoS capabilities, management features, security and policy-setting capabilities.

"Policy-based management is emerging as the key tool for ensuring that applications and users get the level of network services they need," said Mary Petrosky, senior analyst at The Burton Group. "CiscoAssure Policy Networking has the right components to intelligently control the network and provide real value-add services for enterprise customers."

Quality of Service

The Catalyst 8500 incorporates a centralized shared-memory switching fabric that is nonblocking. The extensive QoS capabilities of the switching fabric allow network managers to protect mission-critical applications by supporting delay-sensitive traffic while managing bandwidth in the campus backbone.

The switching fabric supports per-flow queuing, differentiated delay priorities using a weighted round-robin scheduler for delay-sensitive applications, and differentiated loss priorities for managing congestion as well as traffic policing and shaping. The fast packet memory embedded in the switching fabric is allocated dynamically on a per-queue (flow) basis. This dynamic allocation, used in conjunction with user-defined queue thresholds and configurable queue scheduling weights, ensures that time-sensitive traffic is handled properly with no packet loss. These thresholds and queuing weights can be dynamically adjusted with CiscoAssure Policy Networking, allowing an end-to-end QoS solution.

Ease of Management

Consistent with Cisco's Internet-driven network management strategy, the Catalyst 8500 is fully manageable with Cisco's suite of enterprise management tools including Cisco Resource Manager for configuration, asset and software distribution tasks, and CiscoWorks for Switched Internetworks for logical connectivity analysis, graphical device management and traffic analysis and monitoring. These tools greatly minimize the tasks associated with device installation, software maintenance and real-time troubleshooting and problem detection.

Cisco Systems

Cisco Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:CSCO) is the worldwide leader in networking for the Internet.


Catalyst, Cisco, Cisco IOS, Cisco Systems, the Cisco Systems logo and EtherChannel are registered trademarks of Cisco Systems, Inc. in the U.S. and certain other countries. All other trademarks mentioned in this document are the property of their respective owners.