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BLADE Network Technologies, Inc. (BLADE), “officially” announces today the delivery of the industry’s first and only fully integrated Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) solution inside a blade chassis. This integration significantly reduces power, cost, space and complexity over external FCoE implementations.

You may recall that I blogged about this the other day (click here to read), however I left off one bit of information. The (Blade Networks) BNT Virtual Fabric 10 Gb Switch Module does not require the QLogic Virtual Fabric Extension Module to function. It will work with an existing Top-of-Rack (TOR) Convergence Switch from Brocade or Cisco to act as a 10Gb switch module, feeding the converged 10Gb link up to the TOR switch. Since it is a switch module, you can connect as few as 1 uplink to your TOR switch, therefore saving connectivity costs, as opposed to a pass-thru option (click here for details on the pass-thru option.)

Yes – this is the same architectural design as the Cisco Nexus 4001i provides as well, however there are a couple of differences:

BNT Virtual Fabric Switch Module (IBM part #46C7191) – 10 x 10Gb Uplinks, $11,199 list (U.S.)
Cisco Nexus 4001i Switch (IBM part #46M6071) – 6 x 10Gb Uplinks, $12,999 list (U.S.)

While BNT provides 4 extra 10Gb uplinks, I can’t really picture anyone using all 10 ports. However, it does has a lower list price, but I encourage you to check your actual price with your IBM partner, as the actual pricing may be different. Regardless of whether you choose BNT or Cisco to connect into your TOR switch, don’t forget the transceivers! They add much more $$ to the overall cost, and without them you are hosed.

About the BNT Virtual Fabric 10Gb Switch Module
The BNT Virtual Fabric 10Gb Switch Module includes the following features and functions:

  • Form-factor
    • Single-wide high-speed switch module (fits in IBM BladeCenter H bays #7 and 9.)
  • Internal ports
    • 14 internal auto-negotiating ports: 1 Gb or 10 Gb to the server blades
    • Two internal full-duplex 100 Mbps ports connected to the management module
  • External ports
    • Up to ten 10 Gb SFP+ ports (also designed to support 1 Gb SFP if required, flexibility of mixing 1 Gb/10 Gb)
    • One 10/100/1000 Mb copper RJ-45 used for management or data
    • An RS-232 mini-USB connector for serial port that provides an additional means to install software and configure the switch module
  • Scalability and performance
    • Autosensing 1 Gb/10 Gb internal and external Ethernet ports for bandwidth optimization

To read the extensive list of details about this switch, please visit the IBM Redbook located here.

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I’ve gotten a lot of response from my first post, “REVEALED: IBM’s Nexus 4000 Switch: 4001I” and more information is coming out quickly so I decided to post a part 2. IBM officially announced the switch on October 20, 2009, so here’s some additional information:

  • The Nexus 4001I Switch for the IBM BladeCenter is part # 46M6071 and has a list price of $12,999 (U.S.) each
  • In order for the Nexus 4001I switch for the IBM BladeCenter to connect to an upstream FCoE switch, an additional software purchase is required. This item will be part # strong>49Y9983, “Software Upgrade License for Cisco Nexus 4001I.” This license upgrade allows for the Nexus 4001I to handle FCoE traffic. It has a U.S. list price of $3,899
  • The Cisco Nexus 4001I for the IBM BladeCenter will be compatible with the following blade server expansion cards
    • 2/4 Port Ethernet Expansion Card, part # 44W4479
    • NetXen 10Gb Ethernet Expansion Card, part # 39Y9271
    • Broadcom 2-port 10Gb Ethernet Exp. Card, part # 44W4466
    • Broadcom 4-port 10Gb Ethernet Exp. Card, part # 44W4465
    • Broadcom 10 Gb Gen 2 2-port Ethernet Exp. Card, part # 46M6168
    • Broadcom 10 Gb Gen 2 4-port Ethernet Exp. Card, part # 46M6164
    • QLogic 2-port 10Gb Converged Network Adapter, part # 42C1830
  • (UPDATED 10/22/09) The newly announced Emulex Virtual Adapter WILL NOT work with the Nexus 4001I IN VIRTUAL NIC (vNIC) mode.  It will work in pNIC mode according to IBM.

The Cisco Nexus 4001I switch for the IBM BladeCenter is a new approach to getting converged network traffic. As I posted a few weeks ago in my post, “How IBM’s BladeCenter works with BladeCenter H Diagram 6 x 10Gb UplinksCisco Nexus 5000” before the Nexus 4001I was announced, in order to get your blade servers to communicate with a Cisco Nexus 5000, you had to use a CNA,and a 10Gb Pass-Thru Module as shown on the left. The pass-thru module used in that solution requires for a direct connection to be made from the pass-thru module to the Cisco Nexus 5000 for every blade server that requires connectivity. This means for 14 blade servers, 14 connections are required to the Cisco Nexus 5000. This solution definitely works – it just eats up 14 Nexus 5000 ports. At $4,999 list (U.S.), plus the cost of the GBICs, the “pass-thru” scenario may be a good solution for budget conscious environments.

In comparison, with the IBM Nexus 4001I switch, we now can have as few as 1 uplink to the Cisco Nexus 5000 from the Nexus 4001I switch. This allows you to have more open ports on the Cisco Nexus 5000 for connections to other IBM Bladecenters with Nexus 4001I switches, or to allow connectivity from your rack based servers with CNAs.

Bottom line: the Cisco Nexus 4001I switch will reduce your port requirements on your Cisco Nexus 5000 or Nexus 7000 switch by allowing up to 14 servers to uplink via 1 port on the Nexus 4001I.

For more details on the IBM Nexus 4001I switch, I encourage you to go to the newly released IBM Redbook for the Nexus 4001I Switch.

<see updates at bottom>

Finally – information on the soon-to-be-released Cisco Nexus 4000 switch for IBM BladeCenter.  Apparently IBM is officially calling their version “Cisco Nexus Switch Module 4001I for the IBM BladeCenter.”  I’m not sure if it’s “officially” announced yet, but I’ve uncovered some details.  Here is a summary of the Cisco Nexus Switch Module 4001I for the IBM BladeCenter:Nexus 4000i Photo

  • Six external 10-Gb Ethernet ports for uplink
  • 14 internal XAUI ports for connection to the server blades in the chassis
  • One 10/100/1000BASE-T RJ-45 copper management port for out-of-band management link  (this port is available on the front panel next to the console port)
  • One external RS-232 serial console port  (this port is available on the front panel and uses an RJ-45 connector)

More tidbits of info:

  • The switch will be capable of forwarding Ethernet and FCoE packets at wire rate speed. 
  • The six external ports will be SFP+ (no surprise) and they’ll support 10GBASE-SR SFP+, 10GBASE-LR SFP+, 10GBASE-CU SFP+ and GE-SFP.
  • Internal port speeds can run at 1 Gb or 10Gb (and can be set to auto-negotiate); full duplex
  • Internal ports will be able to forward Layer-2 packets at wire rate speed.
  • The switch will work in the IBM BladeCenter “high-speed bays” (bays 7, 8, 9 and 10); however at this time, the available Converged Network Adapters (CNAs) for the IBM blade servers will only work with Nexus 4001I’s located in bays 7 and 9.

There is also mention of a “Nexus 4005I” from IBM, but I can’t find anything on that.  I do not believe that IBM has announced this product, so the information provided is based on documentation from Cisco’s web site.  I expect announcement to come in the next 2 weeks, though, with availability probably following in November just in time for the Christmas rush!

For details on the information mentioned above, please visit the Cisco web site, titled “Cisco Nexus 4001I and 4005I Switch Module for IBM BladeCenter Hardware Installation Guide“. 

If you are interested in finding out more about configuring the NX-OS for the Cisco Nexus Switch Module 4001I for the IBM BladeCenter, check out the Cisco Nexus 4001I and 4005I Switch Module for IBM BladeCenter NX-OS Configuration Guide

 UPDATE (10/20/09): the IBM part # for the Cisco Nexus 4001I Switch Module will be 46M6071

 UPDATE # 2 (10/20/09,  17:37 PM EST): Found more Cisco links:
Cisco Nexus 4001I Switch Module At A Glance

Cisco Nexus 4001I Switch Module DATA SHEET

New Picture:

Nexus 4000i Photo 2

 

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