Many people get confused as to why so many I/O modules are needed within a given blade chassis.  The basic concept is simple (in most cases) – for each port you need on a given blade server, you need to have a corresponding I/O module.  For example, if you need 4 NICs, you’re going to need 4 Ethernet modules (in most cases.)  In today’s post, I thought I would keep it simple and publish the I/O diagrams of Cisco, Dell, HP and IBM chassis.  Of course, I am human and “have been known to make mistakes – from time to time” so please feel free to correct me on any errors you see.  Enjoy.

(Updated 8/3/2011 – fixed Dell M1000e Full Height I/O Diagram)

Cisco UCS 5108 I-O Mapping Diagram

Dell M1000 I-O Mapping Full Height rev 8-3-11


Dell M1000 I-O Mapping Half Height

HP BladeSystem c3000 H I-O Mapping Full Height


BladeSystem c3000 H I-O Mapping Half Height

HP BladeSystem c7000 H I-O Mapping Full Height

HP BladeSystem c7000 H I-O Mapping Half Height

IBM BladeCenter S I-O DiagramIBM BladeCenter E - IO Diagram

IBM BladeCenter H I-O Diagram

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  • M. Sean McGee

    Hi Kevin,
    Great write-up on the comparisons.

    One correction on the UCS 5108 chassis – all half-width slots have 4 lanes/connections to each I/O module. So, each half-width slot would have a total of 8 connections and each full-width server would have 16.

    Even though only 2 connections were usable with first generation I/O module and CNAs, the backplane still provided the lanes/connections.  Once the Gen 2 hardware ships this year, the 2208XP and 1280 VIC will allow those lanes to finally be used. In other words, every 5108 chassis that’s ever shipped has a backplane that supports 8 connections to each half-width server or 16 connections to each full-width server.

    Best regards,

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  •!/Daniel_Bowers Daniel Bowers

    For the M1000e with full-height blades, the M910 blade guidebook says that mezzanine card #1 and #3 connect to fabric C, and that mezzanine card #2 and #4 connect to fabric B.
    See picture on top of page 13:

  • Kevin Houston

    Dan – thanks for catching my oversight.  I’ve updated the #Dell I/O diagram for the full height blades to connect to the respective ports.

  • Kevin Houston

    Sean – I drew the #Cisco UCS I/O to reflect the # ports from the half width server, not the number of lanes.  To my knowledge there isn’t a 4 port mezz card yet available on the half height servers so I am showing 2 ports per mezz slot.  If there is a 4 or 8 port card for the half width blades, please let me know and I’ll revise the diagram.  Thanks for the feedback!

  • M. Sean McGee

    Hi Kevin,
    The recently announced 1280 VIC is an 8 port mezzanine card for either half or full width UCS blade servers.


  •!/Daniel_Bowers Daniel Bowers

    I’ve posted diagrams focusing on midplane lane counts & styles here:

    The word “port” might need to be understood in context.   I’ve heard server guys call the 1280 VIC card a “256 port” card (# interfaces seen by an OS), an “8 port card” (# physical interfaces delivered by the silicon and routed on the midplane), or even a “2 port card” (number of upstream modules, i.e. FEXes, to which it connects).

  • M. Sean McGee

    Yeah, I definitely understand the confusion in terminology.

    Just to beat the horse one last time to make sure everyone understands… Cisco UCS provides an 8 physical 10GE port CNA (1280 VIC) for half-width blade servers and UCS provides a blade chassis I/O module (2208XP) that provides 8 physical 10GBASE-KR lanes to each half-width server slot.Bottom line: each half-width UCS server has up to 8x physical 10GE ports and each full-width UCS server has up to 16x physical 10GE ports.

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  • Chris Barrett

    You will now need to update your diagrams for the new I/O modules and Fabric Interconnects.

    The Chassis now supports up to 160Gb/s (80Gb per FEX) in a port channel configuration.  The new 6248 is based on the hardware specifications of the 5548 with 4k VLAN support, 2 us latency and Universal Ports.

    In addition the new 2208 I/O module (aka. FEX) module supports 32 internal facing 10Gb ports each!

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