Cisco Catalyst Switches
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Within the Cisco Catalyst brand of LAN switches, Cisco produces a wide variety of switch
series or families. Each switch series includes several specific models of switches that have
similar features, similar price-versus-performance trade-offs, and similar internal components.
For example, at the time this book was published, the Cisco 2960-X series of switches
was a current switch model series. Cisco positions the 2960-X series (family) of switches
as full-featured, low-cost wiring closet switches for enterprises. That means that you
would expect to use 2960-X switches as access switches in a typical campus LAN design.
Chapter 10, “Analyzing Ethernet LAN Designs,” discusses campus LAN design and the
roles of various switches.
Figure 6-1 shows a photo of 10 different models from the 2960-X switch model series from
Cisco. Each switch series includes several models, with a mix of features. For example, some
of the switches have 48 RJ-45 unshielded twisted-pair (UTP) 10/100/1000 ports, meaning
that these ports can autonegotiate the use of 10BASE-T (10 Mbps), 100BASE-T (100 Mbps),
or 1000BASE-T (1 Gbps) Ethernet.
Figure 6-1 Cisco 2960-X Catalyst Switch Series
Cisco refers to a switch’s physical connectors as either interfaces or ports, with an interface
type and interface number. The interface type, as used in commands on the switch, is either
Ethernet, Fast Ethernet, Gigabit Ethernet, and so on for faster speeds. For Ethernet interfaces
that support running at multiple speeds, the permanent name for the interface refers
to the fastest supported speed. For example, a 10/100/1000 interface (that is, an interface
that runs at 10 Mbps, 100 Mbps, or 1000 Mbps) would be called Gigabit Ethernet no matter
what speed is currently in use.
To uniquely number each different interface, some Catalyst switches use a two-digit
interface number (x/y), while others have a three-digit number (x/y/z). For instance, two
10/100/1000 ports on many older Cisco Catalyst switches would be called Gigabit Ethernet
0/0 and Gigabit Ethernet 0/1, while on the newer 2960-X series, two interfaces would be
Gigabit Ethernet 1/0/1 and Gigabit Ethernet 1/0/2, for example.