I've not tried it so can't testify to how well it works, but according to the Nexus 5596UP Expansion Modules section of the Cisco Nexus 5000 Series Hardware Installation Guide the modules can be hot swapped:
The Cisco Nexus 5596UP switch has three slots that can be used for the following optional expansion modules:
4-port QSFP expansion module
16-port Universal (Fibre Channel and Ethernet) GEM (N55-M16UP) that provides 8-, 4-, 2-, or 1-Gbps Fibre Channel and 1- or 10-Gigabit Ethernet ports
Layer 3 GEMs (N55-M160L3 and N55-M160L3-V2) provide 160 Gbps of Layer 3 services. The N55-M160L3-V2 uses a newer version of the Layer 3 ASIC that enables higher table sizes in a future software release from 8K host entries to 16K host entries or from 4K multicast routes to 8K multicast routes (IPv4).
You can hot swap the expansion modules during operations.
You don't mention the switch model you're using, but the document also indicates this capability for the Nexus 5596T and the Nexus 5548 platforms.
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