Tuesday, 13 March 2012

A guide to traversing the Cisco hardware documentation tree

Hardware Documentation

Navigating Cisco's documentation for hardware used to be quite easy in the good old UniverCD days. Back then Cisco was a company that delivered hardware. If you wanted a big grunty router (eg a BFR) you picked a high number (7200, 7600, 12K), if you wanted a small cheapie you picked a low number.

Today they deliver Borderless Networks, Collaboration, Data Center and Virtualization any many other "synergistic words". I don't really care, just give me the hardware and the numbers to back it up.

In this brave new world how do you find out about a particular router works, what line cards it supports, its architecture and performance figures?

Well follow the links: Goto Cisco.com, click Product and Services, All Products

You are then rewarded with this page

Yay! No more guessing if a 3900 is a branch router, enterprise router or such nonsense. What came as a shock to me was they were still selling the 7500 series routers! I thought there were not going to be any new RSPs. Lets pick this as our example.

Click on the 7500 -> Data Sheets and Literature -> Data Sheets -> Cisco 7500 Series Router

 You then get table after table of pure information. Here are just a few snippets:
Table 2. Maximum Physical Ports/Slots

Cisco 7505

Cisco 7507

Cisco 7513

Configurable interface slots




Ethernet (10BASE-T) ports




Ethernet (10BASE-FL) ports




Table 3. Chassis, Route Switch Processors (RSPs), and VIPs


Cisco 7505

Cisco 7507

Cisco 7513





IP/VIP slots




able 4. Route Switch Processor (RSP) Specifications


Cisco Express Forwarding Switching (pps)

Packet Memory (SRAM)

Program Memory (DRAM)

Boot Flash

PCMCIA Flash Card

Flash Disk Support

Support for Error Correction Code (ECC)



8 MB

128 MB (default)

256 MB

512 MB

1 GB (post FCS)

16 MB


48 MB (default)

64 MB

128 MB


ahh... Bliss! You can now confidently memorise these numbers and feel like a Cisco guru when asked anything hardware related.

Another important document in this section is the End of life and End of Sale notices. Be sure to click through and find out what's being discontinued and when the support runs out. When you read this for the 7500, you discover:

Cisco announces the end-of-sale and end-of life dates for the Cisco 7500 Series Routers. The last day to order the affected product(s) is December 15, 2007. Customers with active service contracts will continue to receive support from the Cisco Technical Assistance Center (TAC) as shown in Table 1 of the EoL bulletin.

The world is again okay once again. 31 Dec 2012 is the last year you will ever hear about the 7500. RIP

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