I’ve gotten a lot of response from my first post, “REVEALED: IBM’s Nexus 4000 Switch: 4001I” and more information is coming out quickly so I decided to post a part 2. IBM officially announced the switch on October 20, 2009, so here’s some additional information:
The Nexus 4001I Switch for the IBM BladeCenter is part # 46M6071 and has a list price of $12,999 (U.S.) each
In order for the Nexus 4001I switch for the IBM BladeCenter to connect to an upstream FCoE switch, an additional software purchase is required. This item will be part # strong>49Y9983, “Software Upgrade License for Cisco Nexus 4001I.” This license upgrade allows for the Nexus 4001I to handle FCoE traffic. It has a U.S. list price of $3,899
The Cisco Nexus 4001I for the IBM BladeCenter will be compatible with the following blade server expansion cards
2/4 Port Ethernet Expansion Card, part # 44W4479
NetXen 10Gb Ethernet Expansion Card, part # 39Y9271
Broadcom 2-port 10Gb Ethernet Exp. Card, part # 44W4466
Broadcom 4-port 10Gb Ethernet Exp. Card, part # 44W4465
Broadcom 10 Gb Gen 2 2-port Ethernet Exp. Card, part # 46M6168
Broadcom 10 Gb Gen 2 4-port Ethernet Exp. Card, part # 46M6164
QLogic 2-port 10Gb Converged Network Adapter, part # 42C1830
(UPDATED 10/22/09) The newly announced Emulex Virtual AdapterWILL NOT work with the Nexus 4001IIN VIRTUAL NIC (vNIC) mode. It will work in pNIC mode according to IBM.
The Cisco Nexus 4001I switch for the IBM BladeCenter is a new approach to getting converged network traffic. As I posted a few weeks ago in my post, “How IBM’s BladeCenter works with Cisco Nexus 5000” before the Nexus 4001I was announced, in order to get your blade servers to communicate with a Cisco Nexus 5000, you had to use a CNA,and a 10Gb Pass-Thru Module as shown on the left. The pass-thru module used in that solution requires for a direct connection to be made from the pass-thru module to the Cisco Nexus 5000 for every blade server that requires connectivity. This means for 14 blade servers, 14 connections are required to the Cisco Nexus 5000. This solution definitely works – it just eats up 14 Nexus 5000 ports. At $4,999 list (U.S.), plus the cost of the GBICs, the “pass-thru” scenario may be a good solution for budget conscious environments.
In comparison, with the IBM Nexus 4001I switch, we now can have as few as 1 uplink to the Cisco Nexus 5000 from the Nexus 4001I switch. This allows you to have more open ports on the Cisco Nexus 5000 for connections to other IBM Bladecenters with Nexus 4001I switches, or to allow connectivity from your rack based servers with CNAs.
Bottom line: the Cisco Nexus 4001I switch will reduce your port requirements on your Cisco Nexus 5000 or Nexus 7000 switch by allowing up to 14 servers to uplink via 1 port on the Nexus 4001I.
Finally – information on the soon-to-be-released Cisco Nexus 4000 switch for IBM BladeCenter. Apparently IBM is officially calling their version “Cisco Nexus Switch Module 4001I for the IBM BladeCenter.” I’m not sure if it’s “officially” announced yet, but I’ve uncovered some details. Here is a summary of the Cisco Nexus Switch Module 4001I for the IBM BladeCenter:
Six external 10-Gb Ethernet ports for uplink
14 internal XAUI ports for connection to the server blades in the chassis
One 10/100/1000BASE-T RJ-45 copper management port for out-of-band management link (this port is available on the front panel next to the console port)
One external RS-232 serial console port (this port is available on the front panel and uses an RJ-45 connector)
More tidbits of info:
The switch will be capable of forwarding Ethernet and FCoE packets at wire rate speed.
The six external ports will be SFP+ (no surprise) and they’ll support 10GBASE-SR SFP+, 10GBASE-LR SFP+, 10GBASE-CU SFP+ and GE-SFP.
Internal port speeds can run at 1 Gb or 10Gb (and can be set to auto-negotiate); full duplex
Internal ports will be able to forward Layer-2 packets at wire rate speed.
The switch will work in the IBM BladeCenter “high-speed bays” (bays 7, 8, 9 and 10); however at this time, the available Converged Network Adapters (CNAs) for the IBM blade servers will only work with Nexus 4001I’s located in bays 7 and 9.
There is also mention of a “Nexus 4005I” from IBM, but I can’t find anything on that. I do not believe that IBM has announced this product, so the information provided is based on documentation from Cisco’s web site. I expect announcement to come in the next 2 weeks, though, with availability probably following in November just in time for the Christmas rush!
Cisco Nexus 4000 switch for blade chassis environments, I thought it would be good to discuss how IBM is able to connect blade servers via 10Gb Datacenter Ethernet (or Converged Enhanced Ethernet) to a Cisco Nexus 5000.
Other than Cisco’s UCS offering, IBM is currently the only blade vendor who offers a Converged Network Adapter (CNA) for the blade server. The 2 port CNA sits on the server in a PCI express slot and is mapped to high speed bays with CNA port #1 going to High Speed Bay #7 and CNA port #2 going to High Speed Bay #9. Here’s an overview of the IBM BladeCenter H I/O Architecture (click to open large image:)
Since the CNAs are only switched to I/O Bays 7 and 9, those are the only bays that require a “switch” for the converged traffic to leave the chassis. At this time, the only option to get the converged traffic out of the IBM BladeCenter H is via a 10Gb “pass-thru” module. A pass-thru module is not a switch – it just passes the signal through to the next layer, in this case the Cisco Nexus 5000.
10 Gb Ethernet Pass-thru Module for IBM BladeCenter
The pass-thru module is relatively inexpensive, however it requires a connection to the Nexus 5000 for every server that has a CNA installed. As a reminder, the IBM BladeCenter H can hold up to 14 servers with CNAs installed so that would require 14 of the 20 ports on a Nexus 5010. This is a small cost to pay, however to gain the 80% efficiency that 10Gb Datacenter Ethernet (or Converged Enhanced Ethernet) offers. The overall architecture for the IBM Blade Server with CNA + IBM BladeCenter H + Cisco Nexus 5000 would look like this (click to open larger image:)
Hopefully when IBM announces their Cisco Nexus 4000 switch for the IBM BladeCenter H later this month, it will provide connectivity to CNAs on the IBM Blade server and it will help consolidate the amount of connections required to the Cisco Nexus 5000 from 14 to perhaps6 connections ;)