The Cisco Nexus 3172 Switch: What is it all about?

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A networking switch is a device that helps connect multiple devices on a network. It allows for communication between these devices by providing a pathway for the data to travel from one device to another. Switches can be used to connect computers, printers, and other devices on a local area network (LAN). They can also be used to connect two or more LANs together or to connect a LAN to the Internet.

What are the benefits of using a networking switch?

1. Increased network speed and performance – By using a switch, you can increase the speed at which data travels across your network. This is because switches can provide dedicated bandwidth to each port, as opposed to shared bandwidth like with hubs.

2. Reduced network congestion – Switches can help reduce network congestion by allowing multiple devices to share a single connection. This is because each device only has its own dedicated connection to the switch, rather than having to share a single connection with all other devices on the network.

3. Improved security – Switches can help improve security by keeping sensitive data on separate networks. For example, you could use a switch to keep your private data on a separate VLAN from your public data. This would prevent unauthorized users from accessing your private data even if they managed to breach your public network.

4. Enhanced manageability – Switches can make it easier to manage your network by providing features such as port mirroring and VLANs. Port mirroring allows you to monitor traffic on a specific port or group of ports, which can be useful for troubleshooting or identifying potential security threats. VLANs allow you to segment your network into different virtual networks, which can be useful for isolating different types of traffic or user groups.

What is the Cisco Nexus 3172?

The Cisco Nexus 3172PQ, 3172TQ, 3172TQ-32T, 3172PQ-XL, and 3172TQ-XL Switches are dense, high-performance, 10- and 40-Gbps Layer 2 and 3 switches that are members of the Cisco Nexus 3100 switch platform. All switches offer improved port density and scalability in compact one-rack-unit (1RU) form factors.

Cisco Nexus 3172 switches are the ideal choice for data centers that need their devices to be reliable and completely secure. The Cisco NX-OS operating system is designed specifically to help ensure continuous availability and provide a baseline of security in mission-critical environments.

 They are well suited for data centers that require cost-effective, power-efficient line-rate Layer 2 and 3 top-of-rack (ToR) switches. These switches also support forward and reverse airflow (port-side exhaust and port-side intake) schemes with AC and DC power inputs.

The Benefits of Using a Cisco Nexus 3172 Switch

The Cisco Nexus 3172 switches provide the following main benefits:

Wire-rate Layer 2 and 3 switching on all 72 10 Gigabit Ethernet ports

  • The Cisco Nexus 3172 switches provide Layer 2 and 3 switching of up to 1.4 terabits per second (Tbps) and up to 1 billion packets per second (bpps) in a compact 1RU form factor.

High availability

  • Virtual port-channel technology is an effective solution for VLAN. It removes the Spanning Tree Protocol to provide Layer 2 multipathing. It also enables fully utilized bisectional bandwidth and simplified Layer 2 logical topologies without the need to change the existing management and deployment models.
  • The 64-way equal-cost multipath (ECMP) routing enables the use of Layer 3 fat-tree designs and allows organizations to prevent network bottlenecks, increase resiliency, and add capacity with little network disruption.
  • Advanced reboot capabilities are included through In Service Software Upgrade (ISSU) and Fast Reboot capabilities.
  • Power-supply units (PSUs) and fans are hot-swappable.

High performance

  • The Cisco Nexus 3172 switches deliver ultra-low nominal latency, which allows customers to implement high‑performance infrastructure for high-frequency trading (HFT) workloads.

Purpose-built on the NX-OS operating system with comprehensive, proven innovations

  • Power-on auto-provisioning (POAP) enables touchless bootup and configuration of the switch, drastically reducing provisioning time.
  • Cisco Embedded Event Manager (EEM) and Python scripting enable automation and remote operations in the data center.
  • Advanced buffer monitoring reports real-time buffer use per port and per queue, which allows organizations to monitor traffic bursts and application traffic patterns.
  • Ethanalyzer is a built-in packet analyzer for monitoring and troubleshooting control-plane traffic and is based on the popular Wireshark open-source network protocol analyzer.
  • Precision Time Protocol (PTP; IEEE 1588) provides accurate clock synchronization and improved data correlation with network captures and system events.
  • Complete Layer 3 unicast and multicast routing protocol suites are supported, including Border Gateway Protocol (BGP), Open Shortest Path First (OSPF), Enhanced Interior Gateway Routing Protocol (EIGRP), Routing Information Protocol Version 2 (RIPv2), Protocol-Independent Multicast sparse mode (PIM-SM), Source-Specific Multicast (SSM), and Multicast Source Discovery Protocol (MSDP).

Network traffic monitoring with Cisco Nexus Data Broker

Build simple, scalable, and cost-effective network test access point (TAP) or Cisco Switched Port Analyzer (SPAN) aggregation for network traffic monitoring and analysis.

The Different Types of Cisco Nexus 3172 Switches

Five Cisco Nexus 3172 switches are available:

  • The Cisco Nexus 3172PQ (Figure 1) is a 10-Gbps Enhanced Small Form-Factor Pluggable (SFP+)–based ToR switch with 48 SFP+ ports and 6 Quad SFP+ (QSFP+) ports. Each SFP+ port can operate in 100-Mbps, 1‑Gbps, or 10-Gbps mode, and each QSFP+ port can operate in native 40-Gbps or 4 x 10-Gbps mode. This switch is a true phy-less switch that is optimized for low latency and low power consumption.

Cisco Nexus 3172PQ Switch

  • The Cisco Nexus 3172TQ (Figure 2) is a 10GBASE-T switch with 48 10GBASE-T ports and 6 QSFP+ ports. This switch is well-suited for customers who want to reuse existing copper cabling while migrating from 1-Gbps to 10-Gbps servers.
  • The Cisco Nexus 3172TQ-32T (Figure 2): This switch is the Cisco Nexus 3172TQ with 32 10GBASE-T ports and 6 QSFP+ ports enabled. The ports are enabled through software licensing. This switch provides a cost-effective solution for customers who require up to 32 10GBASE-T ports per rack. This switch comes with a 32-10GBASE-T port license preinstalled. To enable the remaining 16 10GBASE-T ports, the customer installs the 16-port upgrade license.

Cisco Nexus 3172TQ and 3172TQ-32T Switch

  • The Cisco Nexus 3172PQ-XL (Figure 3) and Cisco Nexus 3172TQ-XL (Figure 4) are minor hardware revisions of the Cisco Nexus 3172PQ and 3172TQ, respectively. Enhancements include an additional 4 GB of memory (for a total of 8 GB). The additional memory allows users to perform object-model programming. The Cisco Nexus 3172PQ-XL and 3172TQ-XL also have 2.5-GHz CPUs.

Cisco Nexus 3172PQ and 3172PQ-XL

48 fixed 10 Gigabit Ethernet SFP+ ports (can operate at 100-Mbps, 1-Gbps, and 10-Gbps speeds)

6 fixed QSFP+ ports (each QSFP+ port can support 4 x 10 Gigabit Ethernet or 40 Gigabit Ethernet)

Cisco Nexus 3172TQ and 3172TQ-XL

48 fixed 10GBASE-T ports (can operate at 100-Mbps, 1-Gbps, and 10-Gbps speeds)

6 fixed QSFP+ ports (each QSFP+ port can support 4 x 10 Gigabit Ethernet or 40 Gigabit Ethernet)

Cisco Nexus 3172TQ-32T

32 fixed 10GBASE-T ports (can operate at 100-Mbps, 1-Gbps, and 10-Gbps speeds)

Six fixed QSFP+ ports (each QSFP+ port can support 4 x 10 Gigabit Ethernet or 40 Gigabit Ethernet)

Upgrade to 48 fixed 10GBASE-T and 6 QSFP+ ports by installing a 16-port upgrade license


The Cisco Nexus 3172 switch is a powerful networking tool that can help improve the efficiency of your network. It offers a variety of features that can make it an invaluable part of your network, and it’s easy to see why so many businesses rely on this switch to keep their networks running smoothly. If you’re looking for a high-quality switch that can offer you a variety of benefits, the Cisco Nexus 3172 is definitely worth considering.