As many of you know I am now in full CCIE Datacenter study mode, and as such, I never seem to have as much time to blog and answer posted questions as I would like. However I felt compelled to take a break from my studies to write a post on the new Cisco UCS generation 3 Fabric Interconnect.
I noticed the other day that Cisco have released the data sheet on the latest member of the Cisco UCS family, the Cisco 6324 Fabric Interconnect, which is great because I can now finally blog about it.
Having been waiting for this new FI for a long time, I immediately contacted our purchasing team to get a quote, with the view to getting one in for our Lab so I can have a good play with it, and I was again pleased to see that the 6324 is listed on Cisco Commerce Workspace (CCW) all-be-it still on New Product Hold.
The main reason I have been waiting for this product is that it meets a few use cases which historically UCS never really addressed to the level I wanted with a “full-fat” B-Series deployment, but my customers needed. These use cases were generally smaller requirements like DMZ or Remote/Branch offices.
Sure, I could use some stand-a-lone C-Series rack mounts, but I really want the power of UCS Manager and to consolidate all these UCS Domains under UCS Central and integrate them with UCS Director.
And that is where the new Cisco 6324 Fabric Interconnect IO Module comes in, it brings all the power and features of a full scale UCS Solution, but at the scale and price point that meets these smaller use cases. The best of both worlds if you like.
So what does this new solution look like?
Well as can be seen from the above data sheet and the below figure, the Fabric Interconnects occupy the IO Module slots in the Chassis.
If we look at the new Fabric Interconnect a little closer we see there are 4 x 10G Unified ports and 1 x 40G QSFP+ Port, and as can be seen from the below image there are a number of connectivity options available including direct attached storage and up to 7 directly attached C Series Rack mount servers, allowing a total of 15 Severs within the system.
Internally the 6324 Fabric Interconnect provides 2 x 10Gb Traces (KR Ports) to each half width blade slot (think 2204XP)
But I’m sure you are wondering what happened to the L1 and L2 cluster ports, which would allow two Fabric Interconnects to cluster and form an HA pair.
Well that explains why there is also a new Chassis being released. This updated 5108 Chassis is fully backwards compatible, and has hardware support for all past, present and foreseen Fabric Interconnects, IO Modules, Power Supplies and Servers. Although remember it is actually the version of UCS Manager which determines supported hardware.
This new chassis not only supports a new Dual Voltage power supply but also comes with a new backplane, and part of that new back plane, yes you guessed it, are the required traces to support the 1Gbit cluster interconnect and primary heartbeat between the 6324 Fabric Interconnects. (2104/2204/2208 if used are unaffected).
The secondary heartbeat still runs over the Chassis SEEPROM as per the traditional UCS method (See my previous post on Cisco UCS HA)
So a new 6324 based solution could look like the following, which I’m sure you’ll agree is more than suitable for all the use cases I mentioned above.
At First Customer Ship (FCS) the servers supported for use with the 6324 FI are the B200M3, C220M3 and C240M3.
Anyway I for one can’t wait to get my hands on this for a good play, and am really excited about all the possibilities for future updates that this platform allows.
Watch this space carefully, I feel Cisco have some big plans for this new arrival.