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Inter-Chassis Link Connectivity for the Brocade DCX Backbone Family


Inter-Chassis Link (ICL) connectivity is a unique Brocade DCX feature that provides short-distance connectivity among two or more backbone chassisa good option for customers who want to build a powerful core without sacrificing device ports for Inter-Switch Link (ISL) connectivity.

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CONTENTS
Introduction........................................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 3 ICL Licensing .................................................................................................................................................................. 3 Supported Topologies.................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 4 Dual-Chassis Configuration ........................................................................................................................................... 4 Triangular Configuration................................................................................................................................................ 5 Installing ICL Cables........................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 6 Use Case Scenarios ........................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 6 Edge Application Engine ................................................................................................................................................ 7 Fabric Consolidation ...................................................................................................................................................... 7 FICON.............................................................................................................................................................................. 7

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INTRODUCTION
Inter-Chassis Link (ICL) is a unique Brocade DCX Backbone feature that provides short-distance connectivity among two or more Brocade DCX Backbone (Brocade DCX and Brocade DCX-4S) chassis. Each ICL connects core routing blades of two Brocade DCX chassis and provides the equivalent of 16 x 8 Gigabits per second (Gbps) in a Brocade DCX and 8 x 8 Gbps links in a Brocade DCX-4Swithout taking up chassis slots. The ICL feature enables you to preserve switch ports for end devices in the fabric by transporting traffic between chassis over dedicated high-speed links. In a mainframe environment, ICLs provide the low latency ideal for FICON (Fibre Channel Connectivity) deployment. A typical ICL kit (may be different if purchased from a Brocade OEM partner) comes in a package with: 1 x ICL license for the Brocade DCX, which is equivalent to 64 x 8 Gbps links and is priced much lower than a 48-port blade fully loaded with 8 Gbps optical transceivers OR 1 x ICL license for the Brocade DCX-4S, which is equivalent to 32 x 8 Gbps links and is priced much lower than a 32-port blade fully loaded with 8 Gbps optical transceivers 2 x ICL cables

NOTE: Although the ICL feature was introduced for the Brocade DCX Backbone with Fabric OS (FOS) 6.0.x, the information in this document is based on FOS 6.3 or later.

ICL Licensing
Licenses come in two versions: an 8-link license and a 16-llink license. ICL is licensed as follows: The ICL 16-link license enables 16 x 8 Gbps links for each of 4 ICLs in a Brocade DCX chassis. It was introduced in FOS 6.0. The ICL 8-link license enables 8 x 8 Gbps links for each of 4 ICLs in a Brocade DCX-4S chassis. It was introduced in FOS 6.3. Brocade offers cost-effective options for the Brocade DCX chassis and reuse of the ICL 8-link license as follows: o The 8-link license an be used to enable 8 x 8 Gbps links for each of 4 ICLs in a Brocade DCX running FOS 6.3 or later. The 8-link software ICL upgrade license can be used to enable a second set of 8 x 8 Gbps links, enabling full 16-link capacity on the Brocade DCX-4S. In a Brocade DCX/DCX-4S configuration, an 8-link license can be used on the Brocade DCX, which means that you do not have to purchase a second 8-link license for connectivity in the Brocade DCX not used to connect to the Brocade DCX-4S.

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SUPPORTED TOPOLOGIES
Prior to the release of FOS 6.3, Brocade supported dual-chassis connections (2 x Brocade DCX, 2 x Brocade DCX-4S, or one of each). The release of FOS 6.3 introduced support for connections among three chassis, referred to as a triangular configuration. The Brocade DCX scales to 384 ports and the DCX-4S scales to 192 ports.

Dual-Chassis Configuration
Dual-chassis configuration is supported between two Brocade DCX chassis (top), one Brocade DCX and one Brocade DCX-4S (middle), and two Brocade DCX-4S chassis (bottom), and, as shown in Figure 1. Special ICL cables, which come in their own kits, are installed between ICL connectors on two Core Routing (CR) blades.

Figure 1. Examples of dual-chassis iCL configurations

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Triangular Configuration
In the triangular backbone topology, two ICLs connect two Brocade DCX Backbones and one Brocade DCX-4S or vice versa, as shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2. Examples of triangular ICL configurations The following configurations are supported in a single rack: 2 x DCX, and 1 x DCX-4S 1 x DCX and 2 x DCX-4S 3 x DCX-4S

NOTE: You can connect 2 x DCX chassis in one rack and a third in an adjacent racks as long as the third chassis is located in the middle of the second rack.

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INSTALLING ICL CABLES


As mentioned earlier, ICL cables are inserted into color-coded connectors (silver and black) and then into color-coded ports on Core Routing blades, as shown in Figure 3. For details on ICL configuration, see the Brocade DCX Hardware Reference Manual or the Brocade DCX-4S Hardware Reference Manual.

Figure 3. ICL cables connected to CR blades ICL cables are fed through the comb at the bottom of the top chassis and then secured with Velcro tape, as shown in Figure 4.

Figure 4. ICL cables secured and feeding through the comb to the bottom chassis

USE CASE SCENARIOS


There are a number of scenarios for which ICL connectivity is a good choice, described in the following sections: An edge application engine Fabric consolidation FICON environment (dual-chassis configuration only)

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Edge Application Engine


When customers prefer to install application engines (encryption, data migration, FC Routing) on the edge, the Brocade DCX-4S can be used as an application engine, housing up to four encryption and application blades. The Brocade DCX used for switching and routing is insulated from the need for application restarts, which occur on the Brocade DCX-4S. This solution provides 256 Gbps of aggregate ICL bandwidth, based on the total ICL bandwidth on the Brocade DCX-4S, augmented with Inter-Switch Links (ISLs).

Figure 5. Dual-chassis configuration for application offload to the Brocade DCX-4S

Fabric Consolidation
The majority of Storage Area Networks (SANs) have fewer than 1,000 ports in any single fabric. ICL connectivity provides the option of building a SAN with 3 x Brocade DCX Backbones instead of a core-edge architecture with switches and backbones. A triangular topology provides up to 1,152 ports with 16 x 8 Gbps or 128 Gbps connectivity between any Brocade DCX pair. In this and other scenarios, customers can save the front-end ports for device connectivityeliminating the need to purchase additional port blades for device connectivity.

FICON
Dual-chassis backbone topologies connected through low latency ICL connections are ideal in a FICON environment. The majority of FICON installations have switches connected in dual or triangular topologies using ISLs to meet the FICON requirement for low latency between switches. To find out more about the Brocade DCX Backbone family and ICL features and benefits, talk to your sales representative or visit http://www.brocade.com/products-solutions/products/dcx-backbone/index.page.

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