As we enter the next decade, rumors of Cisco’s next generation UCS are surfacing. Whether or not they are true, there is no doubt that the original generation of Cisco’s blade server design is long overdue for a major overhaul – and we may see the replacement this year. So let’s take a look at what’s being said in the gossip mill.
Before I begin, let me emphasize that I have not been told by Cisco or any other confirmed source that Cisco is coming out with a new product, so treat the information below for what it is – a bunch of interesting rumors.
Fewer Servers Per Chassis
The first thing I’m hearing is that the overall quantities of servers per next generation UCS chassis will be reduced from 8 to 6. As we look into the future of CPUs, more cores and more memory are expected which translates to larger servers. The existing design of the UCS server (M5’s) probably won’t handle future CPUs so the M6 design would need to be larger, which warrants a new chassis.
Larger, Deeper Chassis
As the servers get bigger, the chassis is likely to get taller. Not sure how much taller, but I’ve heard an additional 3 rack units. In addition, I’m also hearing the chassis may be deeper.
New Fabric Design
I’m also hearing the concept of Fabric Interconnects will go away with the next gen UCS design. In lieu of having a pair of top-of-rack Fabric Interconnects, we may see Cisco move to a model where the “brains” of the UCS environment are stacked within the primary and secondary chassis with subsequent chassis having single cable uplinks. If this sounds familiar, it’s because that’s similar to the Dell EMC Scalable Fabric Architecture. If this is the case, it will be interesting to see how it compares to the Dell EMC design.
Will Require All New Hardware
Based upon this new fabric design, larger chassis and potentially larger servers, all signs point to the fact that existing UCS customers will need to buy all new gear. Nothing will be able to be reused. NOTE – this is typical in the industry (i.e. HPE Synergy, Dell EMC MX7000).
Expect a June Announcement
Speaking of time, the expectation is that the curtains will be lifted on Cisco’s next generation UCS at Cisco Live 2020 (May 31 – June 4) so get your tickets now. I’m really curious about when it will actually start shipping, though. Will we see the first generation of the next gen UCS with the Intel Xeon SP CPU, or will Intel wait until Cooper Lake / Ice Lake start shipping? Unfortunately, I don’t know – so if you have any insights on this, or any other information about when / if Cisco’s coming out with a new UCS design, please let me know. You don’t have to post a comment, hit me up on email: kevin AT bladesmadesimple.com.
Thanks for your continued patronage!
Kevin Houston is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of BladesMadeSimple.com. He has over 20 years of experience in the x86 server marketplace. Since 1997 Kevin has worked at several resellers in the Atlanta area, and has a vast array of competitive x86 server knowledge and certifications as well as an in-depth understanding of VMware and Citrix virtualization. Kevin has worked at Dell EMC since August 2011 is a Principal Engineer and Chief Technical Server Architect supporting the Central Enterprise Region at Dell EMC.
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