Cisco betters its best-selling Catalyst Ethernet switch

Most popular Cisco Catalyst 2000 line extended with 2960-X, which doubles stack ports and bandwidth, cuts energy use

Cisco this week upgraded its best-selling Catalyst switch by doubling its stacked port density, stacking bandwidth, buffers and CPU performance.

The new Catalyst 2960-X stackable Gigabit Ethernet switch builds on the foundation of the 3-year-old Catalyst 2960-S/SF. It is available in 24- or 48-port configurations, with 10G uplinks and a stacking capacity of 40G - 80G.

Cisco says the Catalyst 2000 line is its best-selling Ethernet switch based on number of units and ports shipped.

[ UPDATE: Cisco enterprise boss reports on programmability ]

Cisco Catalyst 2960-X

Credit: Cisco

Cisco Catalyst 2960-X stackable Gigabit Ethernet switch

The 2960-X is designed to keep that momentum going. In a fully stacked configuration of eight switches, the 2960-X supports 384 Gigabit Ethernet ports and Cisco claims the switch uses up to 80% less power than competitive offerings.

If all comparable switch ports sold in 2012 -- 230 million Cisco says, citing data from IDC -- were Catalyst 2960-X switch ports, the energy savings could shut down Hoover Dam for more than three years, power all households in San Francisco for more than three years, make 76 round trips to Mars in a Toyota Prius or reduce CO2 emissions by 7.5 billion pounds, Cisco claims.

Per-port power consumption on the Catalyst 2960-X is 0.9 watts, vs. 2 watts on the 2960-S/SF. Energy efficiency is achieved through support of the IEEE's Energy Efficient Ethernet standard, as well as Cisco's own EnergyWise software. The switches can engage in two modes of "hibernation" during downtime: downlink mode, which powers down less active links; and switch mode, which powers down the switch itself.

Cisco says a 2960-X can be powered down as low as 6 watts from 50-85 watts in switch hibernation mode.

The 2960-X can also be stacked with existing 2960-S/SF switches, Cisco says. Like the 2960-S/SF, it also supports Power over Ethernet (PoE) and PoE+.

Other features of the 2960-X include Layer 3 routing based on RIP, OSPF and EIGRP protocols -- the 2960-S/SF are Layer 2-only -- and application visibility through NetFlow-Lite, a less CPU intensive "NetFlow-like" traffic monitoring capability.

The Catalyst 2960-X is also built for network programmability by being "onePK-ready." Cisco onePK is the company's API toolkit for software-defined network programmability.

Cisco said the 2960-X will be onePK programmable later this year. The switch is not equipped with the UADP programmable ASIC unveiled earlier this year, but another Cisco chip optimized for Layer 2/3 processing.

The 2960-X will be available in July. It costs $1,895 in a 24-port configuration and $3,395 in a 48-port model.

Jim Duffy has been covering technology for over 25 years, 21 at Network World. He also writes The Cisco Connection blog and can be reached on Twitter @Jim_Duffy.

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