Tip

Be careful when using the HSSI port adapter (typically used for T3 connections) with the RSM VIP because it can overload the power supplies on some models. Check the current release notes for the latest list of models that are affected by this.

As discussed earlier, the RSM is a software-based routing device that cannot provide enough Layer 3 performance for larger campus networks on its own. However, another appealing benefit to the RSM is that it can be easily upgraded to provide hardware-based forwarding via MLS, the subject of the next section.

Multilayer Switching (MLS) is Cisco's Ethernet-based routing switch technology. MLS is currently supported in two platforms: the Catalyst 5000 and the Catalyst 6000. The Catalyst 5000 makes use of the NetFlow Feature Card (NFFC) I or II to provide hardware-assisted routing. The Catalyst 6000 performs the same operations using the Multilayer Switch Feature Card (MSFC) in conjunction with the Policy Feature Card (PFC). In keeping with the chronological presentation of this chapter, this section focuses on the Catalyst 5000's implementation of MLS. The Catalyst 6000's Layer 3 capabilities are discussed in the "Catalyst 6000 Layer 3 Switching" section later in the chapter and in Chapter 18, "Layer 3 Switching and the Catalyst 6000/6500s. Also, although MLS supports both IP and IPX traffic, this section focuses on IP.

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