6500 7600 split

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During most of 2006, the 6500 "switch" and 7600 "router" were in fact virtually identical hardware. Both used the same backplane technology, supervisor cards (sup720), linecards and IOS trains. Differences were largely cosmetic e.g. 6509 has horizontal linecards, 7609 vertical.

Many customers treated them as basically identical.

During the late part of 2006, various hints indicated that the two business units responsible for the platforms would be diverging them:

  • The 12.2(33)SRA IOS release notes for the 7600 has a "works but not supported on 6500s" clause
  • The 6708 10G card was not supported in SRA, only the SXF train (indicated it was not a "7600" card)
  • Various presentations indicated the RSP720 (faster CPU SUP720) would not run in a 6500

EXTENSIVE discussions were had about this on the cisco-nsp mailing list; see for example:

This was made official early in 2007 with the release of the 12.2(33)SRB IOS release for the 7600:


At the precise moment the implications are hazy, and all customers are advised to speak to their account managers, but it *seems* that:

6500 7600
High density Lower density
Enterprise datacentre, core, WAN edge Service provider core/aggregation
Highest performance
"if it isn't supported in hardware, it's not supported"
High-touch (lots of per-packet features).
Linecards use CPUs and ASICs
PPPoX termination, IPSec, VPLS
Think of it like a routing switch Think of it like a hardware-accelarated 7200

Modules and port types
module/feature 6500 options 7600 options
supervisors SUP720-10G - 2x 10Gb ports and PFC-3C
needed for VSS
RSP720 - increases CPU from 600MHz to 1.2GHz
10GbE 6704, 6708, 6716
1:1, 2:1 and 4:1 contended
ES20 - CPU-assisted, provider-core-facing 10GbE.
Supports VPLS, MAC accounting etc.
6708 is supported as of SRC
gigabit - fabric 6748 SFP, TX also supported on 7600
load balancing ACE Supported on 7600 from 12.2(33)SRC or later

Software differences

12.2 SXF

  • support both platforms (only sup720, no rsp720)
  • limited modularity, no ipv6 or mpls
  • no ISSU
  • safe harbor release

12.2(33) common feature

  • config change archive, rollback, context diff
  • mux-uni support - vlans and .1q sub-ints on same lan card port
  • SSO/NSF support for MPLS, HSRP

12.2(33) SXH and upwards

  • 6500 only
  • supports sup-720 10g
  • supports VSS - effectively stacking for 6500s
  • modular release supports all features
  • monolithic release also available

12.2(33) SR

  • SRA briefly ran on both
  • SRB and upwards are 7600 only
  • rsp720
  • intercept
  • 6vPE (multi-vrf ipv6)
  • can do ISSU between compatible versions as of SRB1
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