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Catalyst 6500 has another decade or more left, Cisco hints

The first question on people's lips when Cisco introduced the Nexus 7000 data center switch was, how long until the plug is pulled on the Catalyst 6500? Well, the plug might be pulled on it sooner in data centers than in campus backbones.

Cisco says most supervisor engines on modular Catalyst switches have a 10-12 year lifespan. That means the current 6500 with the Supervisor 720 engine, which debuted in 2003, still has four or five years left on it.

And the Virtual Switching Supervisor Engine 720, which came out 18 months ago, only drives 40Gbps per slot on the Cat 6K, while the system is capable of 80Gbps per slot, Cisco says.

So in the not too distant future, Cisco might be expected to roll out a new supervisor engine to take the Cat 6K to 80Gbps/slot or more, while extending the life of the platform another 10-12 years -- as a campus backbone platform. Cisco says the switch is not optimized for unified fabric or I/O data center applications like the Nexus is.

So don't expect to see FCoE or Data Center Ethernet on the 6500 during that extended lifespan. But don't expect the 600,000 6500s installed to be retired anytime soon either. 

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