UCS Mini, FI inside the Chassis!!

Update: I have since learned that Cisco is partnering with various storage vendors to support direct attached storage via the “Scalability Port”.

So I’ve been looking into a really cool product that was announced by Cisco recently.  They have announced what is being called UCS “Mini”.  It is designed for smaller shops who know they are only ever going to need a single chassis, and maybe a few C-Series worth of servers.  The big difference is that the FIs are no longer the 1U top of rack switches connected to the Chassis via the IOMs or FEXs.  The Fabric Interconnects now take the place of the IOMs.

These new FIs are being called 6324’s.  They function exactly the same as the traditional FIs would, there is OOB Managment, you use the same UCSM, same APIs, etc.  Here is a diagram of what the new 6324’s look like;

cisco_fabric_interconnect_6324

At first look, there aren’t a lot of ports, yet a few types..

-First off, you can see it still has an Out-Of-Band RJ-45 Management Port at the top.  This is exactly the same a Mgmt0 on a full-size FI.

-Secondly, there is a functional USB port for Firmware updates.  Now Cisco has NOT released any official documentation on how to use this USB port yet.

-Next we have four 10Gb SFP+’s.  These are exact the same as what is on your current FIs, can be used as uplinks or Server ports.  NOTE: you can not use it with FEX’s to attach your C-Series.

-Then there is a 40Gb QSFP+.  Now it says its a 40gb port, however all of the “supported” transceivers are actually breakout cables that split into 4x 10gb cables. (Note: this port requires a separate license as of today) This is referred to as the “Scalability Port”

-Finally there is a normal Cisco Console port, again just like there is on a full-size FI.

This whole product was designed with the SMB market in mind.  You are limited to a single chassis (obviously) and up-to 7 C-Series (4 on the 40gb breakout, and using 3 of the 10gb ports, saving 1 for ethernet uplink).

The following is how Cisco thinks a typical design would be utilizing the 6324’s.

datasheet-c78-732207_0

Cisco has released some new documents around the 6324, but not everything yet.  So far we have the 6324 DataSheet and the UCS Manager 3.0(1) Release Notes.

Now there are some caveats with this new hardware.

First off you MUST use Firmware version 3.0(1) or newer.  Do NOT use 3.0 on the 61xx or 62xx series hardware.

Secondly you must purchase the newer part numbered chassis, from what i’m told these will NOT work in the older 5108 chassis.  The new PID is UCSB-5108-AC2

Thirdly, according to the release notes of 3.0, the following is NOT supported, Ethernet Switching Mode, FC End Host Mode, Private VLANs.  This means your stuck in End-Host mode for Ethernet and Switching mode for FC.  Now this makes total sense for the SMB market as typically the SMB will not have Fiber Channel, and thus the need to connect to a FC switch upstream.  This will allow for full FC Zoning or FCoE to be done at the FI level.

You can order the new UCS Chassis with 100-110V Power supplies.  This is really nice, previously on the FI could be used at 110V.  This again caters to the SMB market that may not have the 220 circuts to accommodate a UCS Chassis.

I have also found some Avnet pricing here.  It seems there are some pretty well priced Smart Play Bundles that are actually affordable for the market.

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