I'm configuring a box to run ntop for some network data collection we need to do off of a 6500. One of my senior engineers tells me he was told some time ago by a Cisco engineer that SPAN sessions are software-switched, thus potentially causing a high CPU load and degrading switch performance. Obviously, I don't want to cause that. However, I want to monitor our uplinks to the core (EtherChannel, peak flow around 200-300 Mb/s), so I can't use a VACL (the uplinks are /30's).
"SPAN does not affect the switching of traffic on sources. You must dedicate the destination for SPAN use. The SPAN-generated copies of traffic compete with user traffic for switch resources."
This leads me to believe that, at least port-to-port, the traffic is hardware-switched (at least on the 6500). I can see if it had to make decisions about how to filter the traffic based on some ACL conditions then it could be software-switched. But it looks like if it's straight port-to-port, it's hardware-switched.
I include a reference to the 3750 because that's quickly becoming our primary access-layer platform so I would like to know if SPAN sessions are hardware-switched or software-switched on the 3750 as well or not.
I did know that I can't use the EtherChannel as a destination. Since we're running less than a gig over it, I believe I should be able to use it as the source and the machine I'm going to use as the destination should be able to keep up with the data flow; it has a gig port.
But please confirm for me . . . you say "Implementation should be in hardware also on C3750." May I take that as a confirmation that, yes, SPAN sessions ARE hardware-switched on the 6500? The response didn't explicitly say that, and I just want to make sure that I'm not reading anything incorrect into what you're saying. Are there certain IOS revisions or modules for which this is not true?
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