Force10 MXL Switch for M1000e Blade Chassis


This is the first of three posts on MXL blade switches. While this gives an overview of the switch, the other two posts give configuration details for setting these up as Data and iSCSI fabrics, within M1000e Blade Chassis. The posts can be accessed here:


The MXL switch for M1000e Blade Chassis, is a 10/40G, L2/L3 switch. It has 32 internal ports, which can operate in 10/1GE mode. On the external plane, it has

  1. A base module that gives two native 40 G ports.
  2. Two optional plug-in modules, for which there are three choices:

    • 4-Port 10GE  module (SFP+ optics SR or LR, or DAC cables)
    • 4-Port 10GBASE-T module using RJ-45/Copper.
    • 2-Port 40-G QSFP+ module which you can use for 40GbE connections or 10GbE SFP+ connections using 4x10G breakout cables.

By default, the 40GbE ports on a 2-Port 40GbE QSFP+ module come up in 4x10GbE (quad) mode as eight 10GbE ports.For the external ports, it is worthwhile remembering that the numbering starts from the bottom, and assumes 2 port QSFP+ module in each slot (for numbering only). Since each QSFP/40G port can be split into 4 x 10G ports (via splitter cables), each port is thus assigned a numbering block of 4.
This means that the bottom port on base module is identified as port 33, the next one port 37. Assuming both optional slots are populated with QSFP+ modules, the next sequential ports will be 41 & 45 on slot 0, and 49 & 53 in slot 1.However, the numbering would change if you have a 4-port 10 G module in any of the optional slots.The reason is simple.

    • 2 port quad gives 2 x (4–10G) or 8 ports @ 10G.
    • 4 port 10G gives 4 ports @ 10G.

Thus, if you have a 4 port module in slot 0, it would be numbered 41-44. The range 45-48 will be un-utilized, and the module in slot 1  will start at 49 as usual. QSFP+ built-in ports are set to 40Gb by default while expansion module QSFP+ ports are set to 10Gb ports by default. To change a port from 10Gb mode to 40Gb mode, use the command.

FTOS(conf)# no stack-unit 0 port xx portmode quad

.If you see an issue where the MXL switch refuses to boot when placed in the M1000e chassis, be advised that this is not a hardware issue. the previous MXL firmware version, specifically version, does not support M1000e midplane version 1.0. This however, is resolved in the new revision mindful that this is only relevant where you have midplane version 1.0 (check in CMC console via $getsysinfo).



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