Catalyst 6500 Sup2T Ethernet Module Compatibility

Many people think that Catalyst 6500 series is not actually very interesting anymore about 12 years after its introduction. However, the large installation base dictates that Cat6500 is not going to vanish any time soon. Cisco announced some new modules for Cat6500 last month. One of them is a supervisor module called Supervisor 2T (products VS-S2T-10G and VS-S2T-10G-XL) which practically replaces the previous Sup720 family variants. (Don’t be confused by the fact that the old Supervisor 2 went end-of-sale on 2007. Sup2T is totally different from Sup2.) Other new modules are ethernet line cards in 6800 series and 6900 series models.

The ethernet line card compatibility is somewhat complicated in some cases, so let’s have a quick overview about the ethernet line card series compatibility with Sup2T.

6900 series

These are the new ethernet line cards that are leveraging the new 80 Gbps fabric connection on Sup2T (actually there are two 40G fabric connections in parallel). These will work only with Sup2T, they won’t work with any other supervisor. The first line card announced is WS-X6908-10G-2T/2TXL, an 8-port 10G line card with X2 modules. It has DFC4(XL) as a standard (Distributed Forwarding Card). There is no CFC (Centralized Forwarding Card) option available. It seems to be typical for all newly announced line cards that they all contain DFC4.

More information:

[Update 8-Aug-2011: Sup2T data sheet also mentions the future 4-port 40G line card WS-X6904-40G-2T/2TXL.]

6800 series

These are the new ethernet line cards that only use the “Sup720-style” 40G fabric connection (actually two 20G fabric connections). Note that they still require Sup2T. Five different line cards was announced:

  • 24-port 1 gigabit ethernet with SFP (WS-X6824-SFP-2T/2TXL)
  • 48-port 1 gigabit ethernet with SFP (WS-X6848-SFP-2T/2TXL)
  • 48-port 10/100/1000 copper ethernet (WS-X6848-TX-2T/2TXL)
  • 16-port 10 gigabit ethernet with X2 (WS-X6816-10G-2T/2TXL)
  • 16-port 10 gigabit copper (RJ-45) ethernet (WS-X6816-10T-2T/2TXL)

They include DFC4(XL) as well, and they don’t have any CFC option. The 24-port module has one 20G fabric connection while the other new modules have two 20G fabric connections (for 40G total bandwidth). Thus they are all oversubscribed by some degree. Basically these new 6800 modules are very similar to the previous 6700 series modules.

More information:

Note: WS-X6816-GBIC module has nothing to do with these new 6800 series modules! WS-X6816-GBIC was announced a long time ago, and it has been end-of-sale since January 2008. It is thus not compatible with Sup2T.

6700 series

These are the good old fabric-enabled line cards that have been used with Sup720. They have one or two 20G fabric backplane connections: WS-X6724-SFP has one 20G connection (as it only has 24 SFP ports) and other 6700 modules have two 20G backplane connections.

Some 6700 series line cards have CFC and some have DFC installed (either by default or after some later module installation). Here are the catches about Sup2T compatibility:

  • 6700 series modules with CFC are supported in Sup2T implementation.
  • 6700 series modules that have any DFC3 variant installed are not supported by Sup2T.
  • However, most 6700 line cards can have the DFC3 module field-replaced with a compatible DFC4 module, and then the line card will be supported by Sup2T. (Practically, a 6700 series line card equipped with a DFC4 is like a 6800 series line card. I did not check all the specs however.)
  • WS-X6708-10G-3C/3CXL is an exception: it is not compatible with Sup2T in any case. I’ve never seen the module uninstalled so I guess its DFC3C can not be field-replaced. Cisco is promising some kind of deal for replacing the whole line card with a WS-X6908-10G-2T/2TXL instead.

More information from Catalyst 6500 Ethernet Module Installation Guide:

6500 series, 6400 series, 6300 series, 6200 series, 6100 series, 6000 series

Only some specific 6100 series line cards are supported by Sup2T. Other of these line cards are not supported by Sup2T. Personally, I’m not really interested in these, so go to the module installation guide and check yourself if you are using these modules.

[Update 8-Aug-2011: Sup2T data sheet lists the following 6100 series line cards as compatible: WS-X6148A-RJ-45, WS-X6148A-45AF, WS-X6148-FE-SFP, WS-X6148A-GE-TX, WS-X6148A-GE-45AF, WS-X6148E-GE-AT.]


If you want to run Sup2T, these ethernet line cards are compatible:

  • All new 6900 series modules
  • All new 6800 series modules (again, WS-X6816-GBIC is not one of those)
  • Those 6700 series modules that are equipped either with CFC or DFC4
  • Some 6100 series modules

Service modules also have some limitations, so be sure to check those as well.

Disclaimer: Catalyst 6500 module compatibility is a very vast area. I may have missed some detail(s). Feel free to correct me in that case.

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