Cisco to launch Catalyst 6000

In a move designed to enable users to build higher capacity gigabit backbones, and add voice to their switched LANs, Cisco Systems this week will launch a new switch family: the Catalyst 6000.

The Catalyst 6000s will be able to handle large network aggregation requirements, such as concentrating links from multiple Catalyst 5000 workgroup switches. The Catalyst 6000 can serve as the core backbone switch for Catalyst 5000 workgroups or it can provide very high-density front-end aggregation for a Catalyst 8500 Campus Switch Router in the network core. Until now, Cisco's offerings didn't have the horsepower or price/performance to anchor a multigigabit network.

The Catalyst 6000 includes integrated voice support -- a first for Cisco's LAN switch family. Cisco next week is expected to announce the availability of a new NetFlow Feature Card for the Catalyst 5000s that provides classification and prioritisation for voice traffic.

Cisco declined to comment on the Catalyst 6000.

With the unveiling of the Catalyst 6000, Cisco solidly positions the successful Catalyst 5000 as its 10/100 Layer 2/ Layer 3 switch. Until now, the Catalyst 5000 line served as Cisco's gigabit aggregation offering, but it was limited by a backplane speed of 3.6G bit per second.

The Catalyst 6000 will come in two versions: the 6000 and the 6500. They will include six- and nine-slot chassis configurations called the 6006 and 6009, and 6506 and 6509, respectively.

The Catalyst 6000s also will let users bundle up to eight physical Gigabit Ethernet links, from any line card, into an 8G-bps, full-duplex virtual Gigabit EtherChannel trunk, sources say. Today, the limit is four links on a single Catalyst 5000 line card.

Pricing for the Catalyst 6000 line is expected to conform with the industry norm, which is $US1,300 for a Layer 2 Gigabit Ethernet port and $US2,500 for a Layer 3 Gigabit Ethernet port. The switches are expected to ship in February.

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