All networking products, in every installation from the smallest home office to the largest cloud service, have fundamental characteristics in common: They all perform actions on network packets. They modify packets, forward packets to other pieces of equipment, collect data about packets, and sometimes block packets.

But each market has its own unique requirements, and Cisco optimizes its various products to suit. Cisco uses both in-house and 3rd party silicon to create industry leading platforms that optimally address specific functions and roles. In fact, we invest more heavily in silicon than any other network vendor in the world. Every single silicon innovation Cisco has brought to market has defined a disruptive breakthrough.

The Catalyst 9000 family is focused on the enterprise campus, for example, while the Nexus 9000 focuses on the enterprise and service provider data centers. The ASR 9000 is for the service provider core and aggregation markets. The Cisco 8000 is for the very large service provider and web scale markets. All these products, and many others, are purpose-built for their unique customers. Each offers the appropriate degree of programmability, buffering, scale, port speeds, and performance – at the right price point. These particular examples from our wider portfolio are powered by Cisco silicon, developed by Cisco’s own development teams and representing one of the largest investments in networking silicon in the industry. The following diagram illustrates the latest lineup we have to offer.

Catalyst 9000: Optimized for the Enterprise Campus and Branch

In our Catalyst 9000 family, you’ll find the Cisco Unified Access Data Plane (UADP) chip. This line of Application-Specific Integrated Circuits (ASICs) is built with a multi-stage programmable pipeline coupled with smart on-die buffers. This unique combination allows UADP to meet the evolving and complex feature set for the continually changing enterprise campus. Learn More.

Nexus 9000: Optimized for the Enterprise and Service Provider Data Centers

The Nexus 9000 is powered by the Cisco Cloudscale ASIC family. Based on a high-performance pipeline coupled with smart on-die buffers, it offers customers high bandwidth, rich telemetry and support for Cisco’s ground-breaking Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI). This recipe optimally serves even the most demanding data center customers. Learn More.

ASR 9000: Optimized for the Service Provider Core and Aggregation

In our ASR 9000 series you will find Cisco’s Lightspeed ASIC, which is built with a massive number of multi-threaded C programmable network processors paired with high scale and deep buffers. This enables highly sophisticated features for the edges of the service provider networks while still providing enough bandwidth for the service provider core. Learn More.

Cisco 8000: Optimized for the Service Provider and Web Scale Networks

The Cisco 8000 is based on the Cisco Silicon One architecture, which uses a new P4 programmable run-to-completion processing engine. With a diverse set of devices customers can use purpose-built devices with deep buffers and high scale or devices with smart on-die buffers. This blend of programmability, optional deep buffers and high bandwidth allows the Cisco 8000 to be deployed in the service provider and web scale markets.

In addition, Cisco Silicon One chips can be purchased directly, by customers interested in building their own hardware and software solutions. Learn More about the Cisco 8000 and the six new Cisco Silicon One chips ranging from 3.2T to 12.8T.


We continue to invest heavily in all our silicon architectures to address the different needs of our customers. You’ll be hearing more from Cisco about these silicon architectures, and the amazing products that we build with them.

Stay tuned!


Rakesh Chopra

Cisco SVP & Fellow

Common Hardware Group Architecture and Platforming