ACI Hardware Component

ACI Hardware Component

ACI Hardware Component

ACI Fabric is built on Nexus 9000 Product Family. Cisco ACI consists of following hardware component:

  • APIC Controller
  • Spine Switches
  • Leaf Switches

Cisco Nexus 9000 Series Switches

Cisco Nexus 9000 Series Switches have capability like industry-leading performance, power, port density, and open programmability innovations.

Nexus 9000 Series provides a range of multi-speed ports such as 1/10/25/50/100/400 Gbps, along with Unified port supporting 10/25 Gbps, 8/16/32 Gbps Fiber Channel , RDMA over converged Ethernet (RoCE) and IP Storage.

The Nexus 9000 platform delivers Industry-standard Security , Visibility , Streaming telemetry, advance analytics, line-rate encryption.

Nexus 9000 series Products include following variants switches ( 9500,9300 and 9200):

Cisco Nexus 9500 Series ( Spine Modular Switches )

Nexus 9500 Series switches are mainly used as Spine Switches. Nexus 9500 Series switches comes in 4,8,16 Slot modules, comprises of switch chassis, Supervisors, System Controllers, Fabric Modules, Line Cards, Power Supplies and FAN trays. Apart from these Supervisors, System Controllers, Fabric Modules, Line Cards, Power Supplies are common components that can be shared among entire Nexus 9500 product family.

In Nexus 9500, Fabric Module and Line Cards are interconnected via direct attachment with connecting pins. Line cards are Inserted Horizontally and fabric Modules are inserted vertically , giving both an orthogonal orientations in the chassis.

Below are Nexus 9500 Models available:

  • Cisco Nexus 9516 Switch
  • Cisco Nexus 9508 Switch
  • Cisco Nexus 9504 Switch

Spine switches (Cisco Nexus 9336PQ, 9364C, 9504, 9508, and 9516 switches and some standalone switches ) used in smaller-scale environments. 

These fixed-form-factor spine switches:

  • Cisco Nexus 9336PQ Switch
  • Cisco Nexus 9364C Switch (which requires Cisco ACI software Release 3.0 or newer)

The connectivity to the leaf nodes is provided by these line cards some of them are discussed here

  • N9K-X9736PQ line card
  • N9K-X9732C-EX line card
  • N9K-X9736C-FX line card (which requires Cisco ACI software Release 3.0 or newer)

In Nexus 9500 Series, the Line cards includes Physical ports based on Twisted pair copper, providing 1/10 Gbps and for 1/10/25/40/100 Gbps on SFP and QSFP supported ports.

Some line cards like 94XX, 95XX, 96XX, 97XX supports NXOS only, while some 97XX series supports Spine only. Some line cards like 97XX (EX and FX) series supports both model like NXOS and ACI but not simultaneously.

Below are some Cloud Scale EX/FX Line card Modules supports in Nexus 9500 Series Switches.

  • N9K-X9736C-FX 36-port 100 Gigabit Ethernet Quad Small Form-Factor Pluggable 28 (QSFP28) line card
  • N9K-X9732C-EX 32-port 100 Gigabit Ethernet QSFP28 line card 

There are three types of Fabric Modules supports in Nexus 9500 Series Switches. They are FM, FM-S, and FM-E. if you require 100 Gbps support , FM-E fabric Module will be required.

Cisco Nexus 9300 Series ( Standalone Switch )

Nexus 9300 Series Switches are mostly used as Leaf Switches. Nexus 9300 devices are capable of forwarding L2/L3 at line rate and Support VTEP operation for VXLAN, Supports for Routing Protocols such has OSPF, BGP, EIGRP, Multicast, Anycast Gateway.

Nexus 9300 comes with different form factor like 1/10 Gig port speed supported Twisted pair , 1/10/25/40/100 Gbps port speed with SFP/QSFP.

  • Cisco Nexus 93180YC-EX Switch
  • Cisco Nexus 93180LC-EX Switch
  • Cisco Nexus 93180YC-FX Switch
  • Cisco Nexus 93128TX Switch
  • Cisco Nexus 93120TX Switch
  • Cisco Nexus 93108TC-EX Switch
  • Cisco Nexus 93108TC-FX Switch
  • Cisco Nexus 9396TX Switch
  • Cisco Nexus 9396PX Switch
  • Cisco Nexus 9372TX Switch
  • Cisco Nexus 9372PX Switch
  • Cisco Nexus 9336PQ ACI Spine Switch
  • Cisco Nexus 9332PQ Switch

Following are some Cisco First-generation ACI leaf switches:Nexus 9332PQ,9372TX-E,9372PX-E,9372PX,9396TX,93120TX,9396PX,9372TX,and 93128TX

Following are some Cisco Second-generation ACI leaf switches:  

In second Generation Cisco Nexus ACI Switches there are two categorization : Nexus 9300-EX and 9300-FX platform switches.

Some of the EX and FX Series switches are :

Cisco Nexus 93108TC-EX,93180LC-EX, 93180YC-EX,9372PX-E,9372TX-E,93108TC-FX,93120TX,9372PX,9372TX,9396PX,93128TX,93180YC-FX,9332PQ, 9348GC-FXP, and 9396TX

  • 93180LC-EX 1 RU with 24 × 40/50 Gbps Quad Small Form-Factor Pluggable Plus (QSFP+) ports and 6 × 40/100 Gbps QSFP28 uplink ports
  • 93180YC-EX 1 RU with 48 × 1/10/25 Gbps Small Form Pluggable Plus (SFP+) ports and 6 × 40/100 Gbps QSFP28 uplink ports.
  • 93108TC-EX 1 RU with 48 × 1/10GBASE-T Ethernet ports, which can operate at 100 Mbps, 1 Gbps, and 10 Gbps speeds, and 6 × 40/100 Gbps QSFP28 uplink ports.
  • 93180YC-FX 1 RU with 48 downlink ports, which can work as 1/10/25 Gbps Ethernet or FCoE ports or as 8/16/32 Gbps Fiber Channel ports, and 6 × 40/100 Gbps QSFP28 uplink ports.
  • 93108TC-FX 1 RU with 48 downlink ports that can work as 100 Mbps or 1/10 Gbps TP Ethernet ports, and 6 × 40/100 Gbps QSFP28 uplink ports.
  • 9348GC-FXP 1 RU with 48 downlink ports, which can work as 100 Mbps or 1 Gbps TP Ethernet ports, and four 1/10/25 Gbps SFP28 ports and two 40/100 Gbps QSFP28 uplink ports
  • 9336C-FX2 1 RU with 30 downlink ports, which can work as 10/40/100 Gbps QSP28 ports, and 6 × 40/100 Gbps QSFP28 uplink ports

Cisco Nexus 9200 Series:

  • Cisco Nexus 92304QC Switch
  • Cisco Nexus 92300YC
  • Cisco Nexus 92160YC-X Switch
  • Cisco Nexus 9272Q Switch
  • Cisco Nexus 9236C Switch

Naming conventions for the leaf nodes

Following are the naming convention for (N9K-C93xx) and spine line cards (N9K-X97xx) available for the Cisco ACI fabric.

The trailing -E and -X signify the following:

  • E: Enhanced. Switch is capable to classify traffic into EPGs based on the source IP address of the incoming traffic.
  • X: Analytics. Hardware is capable to support analytics functions. The hardware that supports analytics includes other enhancements in the policy CAM,buffering capabilities, and ability to classify traffic into EPGs.

For port speeds, the naming conventions are as follows:

  • PX: 1/10-Gbps Enhanced Small Form-Factor Pluggable (SFP+)
  • TX: 100-Mbps, 1-Gbps, and 10GBASE-T copper
  • Y: 10/25-Gbps SFP+
  • Q: 40-Gbps Quad SFP+ (QSFP+)
  • C: 100-Gbps QSFP28

BW Calculation :

The Switch model with 93xx or 97xx shows the port count if all ports are of same speed or if ports are of different speed they represent Sum of all ports, expressed in multiples of 10-Gbps

For example, N9K-C93180YC-EX has 48 ports of 25 Gbps (Y) + 6 ports of 100 Gbps (C), for a total of (48 x 25 + 6 x 100) / 10 = 180 Gbps.

APIC Controller Hardware:

Cisco APIC is said to be the brain of the ACI, It is the software controller runs on UCS C220 1RU standalone server.

APIC are grouped together to form cluster with minimum of 3 controller and which can be extended up to 31 controller in coming future.

APIC controller is built on REST Architecture based programmable Interface, and supports XML, JSOn and large set of tools to configure and operate ACI Fabric.

APIC Provides following benefits:

  • APIC Provides Single pane of Glass for Application Centric network Policies.
  • It helps in Fabric Image management & Inventory
  • Helps in Configuring & Monitoring of Tenant, Topology, Logical Construct etc.
  • Helps in ACI Troubleshooting.

For APIC controller Cisco uses UCS series Servers, Below are the specification: 

  • UCS C Series Server : C220 M3  ( used as generation 1 )
  • UCS C Series Server : C220 M4  ( used as generation 2 )


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