Category Archives: Optical Switch

Cisco Catalyst 9000 Series Switches: What’s New?

Recently, Cisco unveiled the Catalyst 9000 family, shaping the new era of intent-based networking. The Network. Intuitive. The Cisco Catalyst 9000 Series switches are the next generation of enterprise-class switches built for security, Internet of Things (IoT), mobility, and cloud. These switches form the foundational building block for Cisco Software Defined Access (SD-Access). And what’s more, they also support full IEEE 802.3at Power over Ethernet Plus (PoE+), and Universal Power over Ethernet (UPoE). These switches enhance productivity by enabling applications such as IP telephony, wireless, IoT, and video for a true borderless network experience. This post will take a closer look at Catalyst 9000 switches and some highlights of them.

Members of the Cisco Catalyst 9000 Family

The Cisco Catalyst 9000 Series switches come in three main varieties.

Members of the Cisco Catalyst 9000 Family

  • The Catalyst 9300 is top fixed-access enterprise network switch series, stacking to 480Gbps. The Cisco Catalyst 9300 switches feature a fixed number of switch ports (1G 48-port, 1G 24-port, or 24 ports of 1G/2.5G/5G/10G).
  • The Cisco Catalyst 9400 is the leading modular-access switches for enterprise, which can support up to 9Tbps. It features 7-slot and 10-slot variety.
  • The Catalyst 9500 is the industry’s first fixed-core 40Gbps switch for the enterprise. It comes in three different varieties, a 24 port 40G switch, a 12 port 40G switch, and a 40 port 10G switch with 10/40G uplinks. The Cisco Catalyst 9500 is meant for distribution and core use.
New Design

The Catalyst 9000 series have some special design choices, which make Catalyst 9000 the industry’s most aesthetic switches.

  • Rounded frame without sharp corners, changing the traditional switch outline.
  • Ergonomic pullout handles on the Catalyst 9400 enable better weight distribution. You don’t have to carry it on your back or worry about breaking your back when lifting these switches!
  • Innovative slide-out ejectors with latch on the uplink modules of Catalyst 9500. Screwdrivers can be abandoned!
  • Molded plastic covers ejectors, screws and handles on field replaceable units. Gloves are needless!
  • Industry standard icons now advertise the capabilities of the switch–a truly universal switch!
  • The Catalyst 9400 chassis introduces user-configurable dual serviceable fan-tray design, allowing users to service the same fan-tray from the front and rear of the chassis.
  • The Catalyst 9300 Series switches support a blue beacon LED for easy identification of the switch being accessed.

new design choices

New Software

The new Cisco Catalyst 9000 switches use an Intel x86 processor to help create a network that constantly learns and adapts. Above the feature, Cisco adopts a central software console called the Cisco Digital Network Architecture (DNA) Center that replaced the obsolescent and deprecated command-line interface (CLI). DNA is about bringing the power of automation, ease of management, and predictable performance to networks while driving down cost.

New Packaging

The Catalyst 9300 Series introduces new licensing packaging: Network Essentials and Network Advantage, which feature vastly simplified base network packages. Additionally, there are two licensing levels for Cisco DNA, namely Cisco DNA Essentials and Cisco DNA Advantage, which are hardware and term-based software packages used as mandatory add-ons. In addition to on-box capabilities, the Cisco DNA packages unlock additional functionality in Cisco DNA Center (in APIC-EM), enabling controller-based software-defined automation in your network. License consumption is further simplified with the package combinations of Essentials and Advantage.

Transceiver Options for The Catalyst 9000

The following diagram lists the supporting detailed transceiver options for Catalyst 9300 Series. Take C9300-NM-4G as an example, this module has four 1G SFP module slots. Any combination of standard SFP modules are supported.

Model ID Description
11773 Cisco GLC-T Compatible 1000BASE-T SFP Copper RJ-45 100m Transceiver
34976 Cisco GLC-TA Compatible 10/100/1000BASE-T SFP Copper RJ-45 100m Transceiver
12622 Cisco SFP-GE-L Compatible 1000BASE-LX/LH SFP 1310nm 10km DOM Transceiver
48928 Cisco SFP-GE-S-2 Compatible 1000BASE-SX SFP 1310nm 2km DOM Transceiver
39297 Cisco GLC-TE Compatible 1000BASE-T SFP Copper RJ-45 100m Transceiver
15413 Cisco Linksys MGBT1 Compatible 1000BASE-T SFP Copper RJ-45 100m Transceiver
12624 Cisco SFP-GE-Z Compatible 1000BASE-ZX SFP 1550nm 80km DOM Transceiver
39370 Cisco Meraki MA-SFP-1GB-SX Compatible 1000BASE-SX SFP 850nm 550m DOM Transceiver
28299 Cisco ONS-SE-ZE-EL Compatible 10/100/1000BASE-T SFP Copper RJ-45 100m Transceiver


The Catalyst 9000 Family solves some persistent challenges of enterprise networks by utilizing platform innovations built around four key areas: security, Internet of Things (IoT) convergence, mobility and cloud readiness. There is no doubt that Catalyst 9000 is leading us to a new era of faster and securer network. And if you need any transceiver or cables for mating Cisco Catalyst 9000 series, please contact us via All the products offered by FS.COM are tested before shipping to ensure superior quality.

ABCs of Optical Switch

Optical networking technology has solved the problem of increasing demand for higher transfer data rates and larger bandwidths. In optical network, optical fiber is the fundamental medium of transmission. However, switching, signaling and processing functions are accomplished electronically. So optical switches are naturally developed. Optical switches are widely used for optical protection, test systems (as shown in the following figure), and remotely reconfigurable add-drop multiplexers, etc.

Figure 1. Switch for FS.COM transceiver compatibility test

Two Types of Optical Switches

An optical switch is simply a switch which accepts a photonic signal at one of its ports and send it out through another port based on the routing decision made. There are two kinds of optical switches, including O-E-O (optical–electrical–optical) and the O-O-O (optical–optical–optical) also called all optical switch. OEO switch requires the analogue light signal first converted to a digital form to be processed and routed before being converted back to an analogue light signal. While OOO switching is done purely through photonic means.

oeo and ooo

Advantages of Optical Switches

Compared with electrical switches, optical switches have many advantages.

On one hand, optical switches can save floor space and power consumption significantly. They can save up to 92 percent space and 96 percent power. If translating power savings into cost, it means 3 kw can be reduced for each rack. This can save the carrier from expensive diesel power generators, rectifiers and batteries, the monthly maintenance costs for these devices and the purchasing and maintenance of cooling equipment for these devices.

On the other hand, optical switches are a lot more scalable and faster than electric switches, as all-optical switches are protocol and bit rate independent. Because of the scalability and flexibility all-optical switches have, so transfer rates will not be affected bit rate limitations of switching equipment.

Problems of Optical Switches

Despite those advantages, optical switches still have some problems.

Current optical switching technology can’t realize the technology that photonic signals can be as stored as easily as electrical signals. It is possible to store them using fiber delay lines, as light take a certain time to travel through lengths fiber (200,000 km per second in silica). That means a 10000 bit frame traveling at 10G b/s requires 200m of fiber. This is both expensive and impractical. And once a signal is put through a delay line, it cannot be processed until it comes back out. A solution to this is through adding switches within the lines, but that needs more costs.

The other problem with all – optical switching is that it cannot process header information of packets, especially at such high speed which the signals travel at. The maximum speed electronic routers currently can operate is at 10 Gb/s while optical signals can travel up to 40/100G or even higher. Thus, the routers will not be able to process the signals as fast as the transmission.

Applications of Optical Switches

Optical switches are widely applied in the network.

First, optical switches are used in high speed network which requires very high switching speeds and also requires very large switches to handle the amount of traffic. So switches are likely used within optical cross-connects (OXC). OXC are similar to electronic routers which forward data using switches. An OXC may contain a whole series of optical switches.

Second, optical switches are used for switching protection. If a fiber fails, the switch allows the signal to be rerouted to another fiber before the problem occurs. But this will take milliseconds including detecting the failure, informing the network and switching. Normally this operation requires a 1×2 switch but with complicated cross-connects hundreds may be required.

Third, optical switches can be also used for external modulators, OADM (optical add-drop multiplexers), network monitors and fiber optic component testing.


As the demand for video and audio increasing the challenge of data capabilities and high bandwidth of networks, optical network is absolutely the most cost-effective solution. Optical switches can provide the customers with significant power, space and cost savings. Today, the optical switch market is dominated by several companies, such as Cisco, HP, Arista, Juniper. In early days, original optical transceivers were required to be plugged into these switches. Later, to save the cost, third-party optical transceivers were produced. If you need optical transceivers compliant with these switches, please visit FS.COM.

Advanced Optical Components – Optical Switch

Optical switch (or fiber optic switch) can be a mechanical, opto-mechanical, or electronic device that opens or closes an optical circuit. The optical switch can be used to complete or break an optical path. Passive fiber optic switches will route an optical signal without electro-optical or opto-electrical conversion. However, a passive optical switch may use an electromechanical device to physically position the switch. An optical switch may have one or more input ports and two or more output ports. Here is an opto-mechanical optical switch with one input port and four output ports, that is, a 1 × 4 Optical Switch).

Fiberstore's 1 × 4 Opto-Mechanical Optical Switch

As with any other type of switch, the optical switch has many uses, depending on the complexity of the design. In essence, the switch is the control for making, breaking, or changing the connections within an optical circuit. This definition can be expanded to incorporate the concept of the switch as the control that interconnects or transfers connections from one optical circuit to another.

According to the operating principle and function, there are three types of optical switches: Opto-Mechanical Switch, Thermo-Optic Switch, Electro-Optic Switch. Note: Fiberstore has been expanding the product line of optical switches, but not include the thermo-optic and electro-optic switches yet.

Opto-Mechanical Switch

An opto-mechanical switch redirects an optical signal by moving fiber or bulk optic elements by means of mechanical devices. These types of optical switches are typically stepper motor driven. The stepper will move a mirror that directs the light from the input to the desired output, as shown in the figure below. Although opto-mechanical switches are inherently slow due to the actual physical movement of the optical elements, their reliability, low insertion losses, and minimal crosstalk make them a widely deployed type of optical switch.

Structure of Opto-Mechanical Optical Switch

The opto-mechanical switch works on the premise that the input and output light beams are collimated within the fiber and “matched” within the switching device (the beams are moved within the device to ensure the switched connection from the inputs to the outputs). The opto-mechanical switch can be physically larger than alternative switches, but there are many micromechanical fiber optic switches becoming available, such as the Micro Electro Mechanical Systems (MEMS) optical switch. Here is a Mini 1 × 4 Opto-Mechanical Switch and an 1 × 8 MEMS Optical Switch from Fiberstore.

Mini 1 × 4 Opto-Mechanical Switch 1 × 8 MEMS Optical Switch

Thermo-Optic Switch

The thermo-optic switch is based on waveguide theory and utilizes waveguides made in polymers or silica. In other words, this optical switch utilizes the thermal/refractive index properties of the device’s material. The principle of this switch relies on the altering of the waveguide’s refractive index due to a temperature change.

The temperature change can be accomplished in many ways, but generally the device is heated by using a resistive heater, which has the effect of slowing down light in one of the paths. The device then combines the light in the two paths in a constructive or destructive effect, making it possible to attenuate or switch the signal. This type of switch is inherently slow due to the time it takes to heat the waveguide. It’s like a burner on an electric stove: it takes a while to heat up and a while to cool down.

This type of device typically has less optical loss than the opto-mechanical switch. Thermo-optic switches are attractive for several reasons: they work well in low optical power applications, are small in size, and have the potential to be integrated with a number of devices based on silicon wafer theory.

Electro-Optic Switch

Electro-optic refers to a variety of phenomena that occur when an electromagnetic wave in the optical spectrum travels through a material under the stress of an electric field. An electro-optic switch is based on the changing of the refractive index of a waveguide by using an electric field. This device is semiconductor-based and therefore boasts high speed and low optical power loss similar to that of the thermo-optic devices. This device is still in the research stage; however, the technology is rapidly advancing.

Optical switches can be used in a variety of applications, large and small. The use of a fiber optic switch allows data to be routed where and when it is needed. It is important to be aware of the basic parameters for an optical switch when choosing a right one. Some of the performance parameters to consider are Required Size (the number of input and output ports), Optical Fiber Type, Connector Type, Center Wavelength, Bandwidth, Losses, Crosstalk, Switching Speed, Durability (number of switching cycles), Power Handling, and Repeatability (the amount of change in output power each time the switch changes state). Note: Most of the parameters above are mentioned in the previous post: The Basic Parameters of Passive Optical Network Devices.