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Architecture of a Platform

In the last post I talked about the importance of designing a platform vs. a box and the benefits associated to that choice. Now I’d like to spend some time going into more of the architectural details that make the MDS box a platform. I’m going to try to keep the discussion as high level as possible, but at the end we are still a technology company, so I hope at least some of you will appreciate this “engineering” discussion.The architecture of an MDS Director can be simplified by listing the main three components involved in the packet switching operations: -- the port module (or linecard): the element delivering the forwarding functionalities for each packet received in an ingress port and transmitted to an egress port -- the crossbar (either on the supervisor or on the fabric module): the ‘N x N’ matrix providing connectivity between each port in each module -- the arbiter (on the supervisor module): the scheduler deciding which port should be using the crossbar to transmit trafficBased on these building blocks, the MDS Director switches deliver a centrally arbitrated, crossbar architecture, with frame forwarding logic distributed in each port module. A packet arrives in an ingress port, a forwarding decision is made by the port module, the arbiter schedules the packet transmission based on congestion, the crossbar switches the packet to the egress port. Read More »

Why Invest In Unified Computing Now? Some Thoughts from Intel

April 1, 2009 at 12:00 pm PST

One of the aspects of the Cisco Unified Computing launch that I enjoyed was the opportunity to meet and work with a whole new group of really smart people. Out of that, I had the opportunity to record some podcasts related to the Cisco and Intel’s collaboration during the development of the UCS. Here is the first podcast, with more to follow.


I recently had the chance to chat with Ed Groden, Product Marketing Manager for the Intel Xeon 5500. The topic of discussion was simple: in this economy, why would you want to invest in a new platform? Ed’s snappy comeback was how about 9:1 consolidation over older single core systems and a payback as short as 8 months. Listen to the full conversation to get more details about how we get there. Also, be sure to check out The Server Room community on Intel’s website.

Unified Fabric: Getting From Here to There

March 31, 2009 at 12:00 pm PST

When discussing unified fabric with customers these days, the conversation is increasingly shifting from “why?” to “how?” Here are some of the slides I will use to brief customers on the “how”. The important thing to note is that the steps I highlight are simply waypoints on the journey to a unified fabric. The rate at which a customer moves is really dictated by their specific circumstances--I see customers chasing this goal aggressively and I also see others moving at a more sedate pace. For a little more detail, you can also pull down the related solution overview.

Unified Computing from a Facilities Perspective

March 31, 2009 at 12:00 pm PST

image With this latest installment, Doug Alger discusses how the Cisco Unified Computing System will impact strategies for cabling, power and cooling. The conversation then moves onto a broader discussion of addressing power and cooling requirements in a age of dynamic infrastructure.

Data Center Product Efficiency Calculator

Part of building the business case for getting Greener across your infrastructure is the un-sexy task of calculating electrical and thermal efficiency. Well we’ve tried to make it a bit easier for you with a new calculator. You can find it in the planning tools section of the Efficiency Assurance Program. We put this together to help estimate a baseline for where your network(a) electrical efficiency is today. You notice we are saying electrical efficiency, not Green, not even energy efficiency. This tool provides you with the actual operative electrical efficiency of Cisco products. It also shows you the annual cost based on your kWh rate.We’ve gone with exposing electrical efficiency of our products because it is a metric that is not in dispute. It’s basic physics. You will notice for each product, power supply efficiency curves are exposed. These efficiency curves are related to how efficiently our products use electricity. No fancy, padded variables here, just the facts. Measuring the electrical efficiency of Switched-mode Power Supplies (SMPS) is one place you can start today if you want to compare products. I would invite you to encourage vendors to expose these curves publicly as it will drive the industry to be more energy efficient.We’ve tried to make it clear that we believe the largest energy efficiency gains happen at the systems level. However, for those tthat… Read More »