SDA – Hardware Components

These are self-study crib notes and may not be 100% accurate.


SDA is primarily supported on the Cisco Catalyst 9K series switches utilising the Unified Access Data Plane (UADP) ASIC which is programmable allowing functionality to be added to the switch via software even after hardware has been deployed in the field. This is based on x86 tech and permits running of 3rd party apps on the actual switch.

Cat9K switches run on IOS-XE – Cisco’s IOS running on a Linux kernel.

9200Stackable but cheaper. UADP-MiniCAT2KEdge
9300Stackable with modular uplinksCAT3KEdge
9400Chassis switch, SWvCAT4KEdge
9500Fixed Configuration, SWvCAT4500XCore
9600Chassis, SWvCAT6KCore
*SWv – Stackwise Virtual


Routers are not designed to be at the SDA fabric edge but they can participate in SDA as border or control plane nodes.

4300, 44001000VirtualVirtual
Focus on features not performance, VOIP, UCS etcFocus on Performance – primarily used by enterprise and service providers, not as feature rich as ISR.Based on IOS-XE
Desgined to run on Cisco hardware (ENCS)
Based on IOS-XE
Designed to run in the cloud – AWS, Azure etc.

Wireless LAN Controllers (WLC)

New “Catalyst” Wifi platforms available.

Wireless LAN Controllers providing a centralised control and data plane for WAP’s although the data plane does get split out in an SDA fabric with VXLAN. WAP’s have to be VXLAN capable and the WLC must be LISP capable.

The new Catalyst 9800 WLC supports this functionality.

Hardware Variants: 9800-L, 9840 and 9880.

Software Variant: Embedded (resides on 9300 switches), 9800-CL (Cloud – Azure, AWS, Private DC),

Wireless Access Points (WAPs)

New Catalyst 9100 Wireless Access Points are available. These are Wifi6 (802.11ax) compliant. This standard supports up to 10Gbps of throughput meaning uplinks need to be sized accordingly. The AP’s themselves support mGig (2.5/5Gbps) tech.

Other Supported Platforms

Catalyst 3560/3850/4500E (with limitations) will support SDA as Edge Nodes with appropriate IOS-XE images. The 4500X is not supported as part of the overlay.

3850/6500/6807/6840/6880 (with limitations) will support SDA as Fabric Border and Control Plane Nodes.

Nexus 7700 is capable of being used as a Fabric External Border node only

1800/2800/3800/1540/1560/4800 Aironet WAP’s support SDA Wireless.

3504/5520/8540 Wireless LAN Controllers support SDA Wireless.

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