Dell Networking

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Dell Networking is the (new) name for the networking portfolio of Dell computers. In the first half of 2013 Dell started to re-brand their different existing networking product brands to Dell Networking. Dell Networking will be the new name for the networking-equipment that was known as Dell PowerConnect as well as the Force10 portfolio.


Dell used to be mainly a so-called box-shifter: they produced computers which could (only) be bought directly from Dell, but they didn't offer complete solutions. With the acquisition of Perot Systems Dell entered the market for the -more profitable- services market[1] and also expanded on the software and system-management-market by buying KACE Networks,[2] Quest Software, AppAssure and Credant Technologies. Other notable acquisitions include storage systems like EqualLogic, thin-client producer Wyse and firewall/security producer SonicWall.


In 2011, Dell took over high-end network-equipment producer Force10 Networks[3] that mainly produces multi-layer switches for datacenter environments and with that step Dell entered the market for (enterprise and datacenter class) network equipment. Until then Dell didn't have their own network equipment: the switches that were sold under the brand PowerConnect were products designed and built -for Dell- by 3rd parties such as Broadcom and Marvell Technology Group. And Dell also offered existing products from other suppliers with a 'PowerConnect' sticker on it like the B-series for Brocade (Ethernet) switches or J-series for Juniper switches. But by buying Force10 and later network-security provider SonicWall the company now has its own intellectual property networking systems and stopped selling most J- and B-series switches but continued to offer the legacy PowerConnect products made by Broadcom and Marvell with some overlap in the Force10 products.

In 2013 Dell has started the process to fully integrate these two product lines and rebrand the entire portfolio into Dell Networking, all running on Dell Networking Operating System (instead of FTOS and Powerconnect firmware). All new networking products will be marketed under the new name Dell Networking with a standardized naming-convention: Dell Networking <series-letter>-<4 digit number>. Most existing PowerConnect products will keep their existing names until they will go 'end of sales' (EOS) when they are replaced by new Dell Networking products or will be rebranded to the new naming convention.

Product families[edit]

The Dell Networking products will come in several families. The new naming system will partially follow the existing Force10 naming system: E-series for chassis-based modular (core) switches, C-series for chassis-based datacenter-access switches, S-series rack switches and Z-series for distributed core-switches.

  • Z series: Datacenter distributed core switches: 3 models, the original Z9000, 2 RU high with 32 x 40 Gbit/s QSFP+ Ethernet ports[4][5] and its follow up Z9500, 3RU high with up to 132 x 40Gb QSFP+ slots.[6] and the Z9100 including 100 Gb interfaces.
  • C series: Chassis based campus access/core switches: 2 original models,C150 (9RU) and C300 (13RU) for 1 and 10 Gbit/s and the new C9010 system supporting external port-extenders, where specific N-series models can be (re)used as chassis managed port extender.
  • E series: Virtualized core chassis based switches. campus, office or datacenter aggregation/core switches: 3 models for 1 and 10 Gbit/s aggregation
  • S series: Fixed form-factor datacenter switches for 1, 10 and 40Gbit/s ethernet[7]
  • X series: simple web-managed layer2 or l2+ campus switches based on Marvell networks chipset.
  • W series: existing PowerConnect Wireless range which are OEM-versions of the Aruba Networks portfolio
  • M series: MXL and MIO modules running DNOS9.x and the existing PowerConnect M blade switches for the Dell M1000e chassis system including smaller versions of the MIOA/MXL switches for the FX2 mini chassis.
  • N series: Campus access and aggregation switches with models for PoE+ offering 10Gb or 40Gb uplinks to core. N-series switches run DNOS6.x on a Linux kernel.
  • Legacy Powerconnect switches

Current portfolio[edit]

Below is an overview of the current portfolio of Dell Networking switches, including active models under the PowerConnect name. For legacy switches that are no longer being sold please check the Dell PowerConnect page and for non-ethernet Force10 products check the Force10 product page.

Dell PowerConnect[edit]

(For older products, not longer in active portfolio, please see the Dell PowerConnect page) The current portfolio of Dell PowerConnect rack switches consists of the following series:[8]

The PowerConnects 2800, 3500 and 5500 are based on Marvell Technology Group equipment while the PowerConnect 6200, 7000, 8100 and the blade-switches PCM6220, PCM6348 and PCM8024(-k) are powered by Broadcom

PowerConnect 2800[edit]

The Dell Networking PCT2800 web-managed switches are entry-level Ethernet switches that only offer a web-based GUI management interface. There are 4 models offering between 8 and 48 ports per switch. The interfaces on the switches are all copper-based gigabit Ethernet-ports and the 24 and 48 ports switches offer 2 or 4 'combo' ports where the last 2 (resp. 4) ports can use either the RJ45/UTP 1000BaseT copper-interface or a fiber SFP transceiver for uplinks to a distribution or core switch. All switches offer standard features like VLAN's, link-aggregation, auto-negotiation for speed- and duplex setting. The MAC address-table can hold up to 8000 MAC addresses in its forwarding table and have a 2Mb packet-buffering capacity[9]

PowerConnect 3500[edit]

The PowerConnect 3500 series switches are Ethernet access-switches which comes in 4 models: the PCT3524 and PCT3548 with 24 resp 48 10/100Mb ethernet ports and the PCT3524P / PCT3548P with 24 or 48 10/100Mb with PoE option to power VOIP phones, Wifi Access-points or IP camera's.[10] All models can be provided with a redundant power-supply for either pure redundant power or to provide full PoE power-budget for the 48 ports PoE switch. The technical specifications of the 'non PoE' and the 'PoE' models are the same in regards to switching capabilities and the main difference between the 24 and 48 port models is the total forwarding rate of the switch: 12,8Gbit/s for both 24 port models and 17,6 Gbit/s for the 48 port models. As with the PCT2800 models the MAC address table can hold up to 8000 MAC addresses.
Apart from all standard layer2 switching capabilities as VLAN's, link aggregation (static and LACP, dot1x access-security and dynamic vlan assignment, the switches also offer some basic IP routing/layer 3 processing.
All PCT3500 switches offer two gigabit ethernet (1000BaseT) ports for high-speed uplinks to distribution or core switches or for stacking of switches and two gigabit SFP ports for a 1Gbit/s fiber transceiver for uplinks to distribution/core layer.[11]

PowerConnect 5500[edit]

The PowerConnect 5500 series switches are gigabit ethernet access-switches, available in 4 models: either a 24 or 48 port gigabit ethernet switch or a 24/48 port gigabit ethernet switch with power-over-ethernet option. Regardless of the model the switches offer two HDMI ports for stacking and two SFP+ 10Gbit transceiver ports for 10Gb uplinks.[12]
The technical specifications of the 4 models are all the same, except for the number of ports and the PoE feature and the total switching capacity of 128 Gbit/s (24 port) or 176 Gbit/s (48 port)[13] with a MAC address table size of 16.000 entries, up to 4000 VLAN's, support for link-aggregation, VLAN tagging, dot1x security and dynamic vlan assignment etc.
Although the switches are mainly layer2 ethernet switches they do offer some IP features as static routing (up to 64 static routes), IP or MAC based access-lists, DHCP snooping, quality of service options and IGMP (multicast) features. Up to 8 switches out of the 5500 series can be stacked, using the built-in HDMI stack-ports, to form one logical switch. The switch also offers special features for a voice-vlan as well as extensive options for dot1x security and dynamic vlan assignment via Radius or Tacacs+ server. For better energy efficiency the switch also offers Energy Efficient Ethernet or EEE (IEEE 802.3az) allowing the switch to negotiate a lower link-speed on access-interfaces when the connected client doesn't require the full bandwidth, and when the connected client requires more bandwidth than the active linkspeed it will (re)negotiate a higher speed. The PCT5500 series support Spanning-tree, Rapid Spanning-tree and Multiple spanning-tree. The default setting is rapid-spanning tree.
Other features offered by the PCT5500 series is port-mirroring, jumbo-frame support, dynamic ARP inspection, IGMP snooping, private vlan configuration, LLDP/LLDP-MED, management-access-lists etc.<cr> The two PoE enabled switches can offer up to 15,4 Watt of power to each of the 24 or 48 copper gigabit interfaces. To provide (full) power to more than 24 ports you need to install an extra 'redundant power supply' on the PCT5548P. In case one of the power-supplies would fail you can set PoE priorities to continue to give PoE power to most important devices and switch-off less important in cases where your power-budget is smaller than required budget.[14]

Managed Multi-layer gigabit ethernet switches[edit]

Dell Networking offers two main-models for layer3 gigabit ethernet rack switches: the PowerConnect 6200 series and the PowerConnect 7000 series. In regards to available models for number of ports, PoE support and copper/fiber the PCT6200 and PCT7000 models are very similar. The basic features of both models are also very alike, but the PCT7000 series offer a range of additional features that are not available in the PCT6200. Some important differences between the PCT6200 and PCT7000 is that the PCT7000 offers a dedicated 'out-of-band' management interface. Although both switches are stackable: you can only stack either PCT6200 models or PCT7000 models in a single stack. The only exception is that it is possible to combine PCT7000 series with the blade-switch PCM6348 in a single stack. (But it is NOT possible to combine a PCT6200 rack switch with a PCM6220 blade-switch).

Common features[edit]

The PCT6200 series is the first real 'multi layer switch' and the PCT7000 is a more advanced and powerful multi-layer switch. But for both models the following characteristics apply: besides the basic IP features offered by the PCT5500 the PCT6200 series (and above) are real multi-layer switches offering dynamic routing features like RIP and OSPF. The PCT6200/PCT7000 series offer either 24 or 48 port switches with a PoE enabled variant on both the 24 and 48 port.[15][16] And there are also switches offering 24 SFP interfaces for an all fiber network and/or to let the "-F series" switch be used as a distribution or core level with uplinks to remote access-switches via a fiber-optic link. Each of the models offer 24+4 or 48+4 ports on the front-side of the switch where the last (highest) 4 ports are so called 'combo ports': for the 'copper' based switches (1000BaseT or PoE models) there is an option to connect up to four fiber links using a SFP transceiver instead of the corresponding RJ45 copper interfaces. And on the PCTxx24F up to four RJ45 UTP ports (without PoE) can be used.
On the back-side of each model there are two extension-module bays that can be used for stacking or for 10Gbit uplinks offering two SFP+ transceiver ports. When stacking the PowerConnect series switches you must install the stacking module in bay1.


Some of the most obvious differences between the PCT6200 models and the PCT7000 models are:

The PCT7000 also offers a dual 10GbaseT copper 10Gbit uplink module where the 6200 series only offer a SFP+ uplink module
The PCT6200 stacking module can also be configured to run as a 10Gbit Ethernet module with CX4 interfaces
On the PCT7000 series you can create a stack in combination with the PCM6348 blade switch in your Dell M1000e chassis
The PCT7000 series offer an 'out of band' management interface which keeps management traffic out of the main switching/routing part of the switches.
The PCT7048R and PCT7048RA is a switch with redundant power-supply (without need for external RPS module) and the RA offers reverse-air flow (back to ports direction, compared to ports to 'power supply side' in normal airflow). The PCT6200 series have only standard airflow and for redundant power-supply you need a separate (1 RU) RPS module).
The PCT7000 series offer a wider range of supported SFP+ optics, including some long-range multi mode 10Gb optics
Model 'switch capacity 'forwarding rate MAC address table length LAG support (static ports) Dynamic LAG (LACP groups) ACL support
6224/6224P/6224F[15] 136Gbit/s 95 Mpps 8000 128 links 8 LACP groups 100 lists/127 entries/list
6248/6248P[15] 184Gbit/s 131Mpps 8000 128 links 8 LACP groups 100 lists/127 entries/list
7024 (all types)[16] 176Gbit/s 125Mpps 32.000 72 groups/8 links/group 72 groups/8 links/group 100 lists, 1K rules/list, 8K total
7048 (all types)[16] 224Gbit/s 160Mpps 32.000 72 groups/8 links/group 72 groups/8 links/group 100 lists, 1K rules/list, 8K total

PowerConnect 8100[edit]

The latest addition on the PowerConnect portfolio is the Powerconnect 8132(f) and 8164(f) offering up to 32 or 64 10GbaseT or SFP+ ports. The 8164(f) also offers built-in two QSFP+ 40Gb ports. All the PCT8100 models have one expansion slot allowing to insert a dual QSFP+ port for two 40Gb interfaces or -with a break-out cable- 2 x 4 x SFP+ 10Gbit/s ports[17] Once you update a PCT8100 to firmware level 6.0 or later it is renamed to N4000 model.

The PowerConnect 8100 series switches announced in 2012 offered 24 or 48 ports on 10Gb and 0 or 2 built-in ports for 40 Gb QSFP ports.[18] All models also have one extension-module slot with either two QSFP 40Gb ports, 4 SFP+ 10Gb ports or 4 10GbaseT ports. It is a small (1U) switch with a high port-density and can be used as distribution or (collapsed)core switch for campus networks and for use in the datacenter it offers features such as loss-less ethernet for iSCSI and FCoE, data center bridging (DCB) and iSCSI Auto-configure[19] The PCT8100 series is a "multi-layer" switch which can be used as either a "pure" layer-2 ethernet-switch or as a "layer-3" switch with extensive IP routing functions. Most routing is done in hardware and can be done at (near) wire-speed. Management can be done via the "out-of-band" ethernet interface or "in-band" by connecting to one of the vlan-ip addresses. Management is possible via HTTP(s), telnet, SSH or even serial console cable.

Model[17] '10GbaseT
#modules ' 10Gb ports power consumption
8132 24 0 0 1 32 240 W
8132F 0 24 0 1 32 176 W
8164 48 0 2 1 64 395 W
8164F 0 48 2 1 64 220 W

Up to 6 units in the 8100 series can be stacked to form one logical switch and any type of interface (10Gb or 40Gb, fiber-optical or utp copper) can be used for stacking. Similar to the rack-switches PCT7000 and PCT8024 series the switch offers an out-of-band fast-ethernet port for management as well as a serial console connection, required for initial configuration.[19] The switch is built around the Broadcom Trident+ ASIC: the same ASIC as can be found in Cisco Nexus 5000 switches or Force10 models. The PowerConnect 8100 is initially released with firmware 5.0 of the switch-firmware which offers the same features as the PowerConnect 7000 and 8024 rack-switches and the different M-series ethernet switches. The underlying operating system of the PCT8100 is based on Linux 2.6 where all other 'Broadcom powered' PowerConnects run on VxWorks.


Dell Networking H series[edit]

The Dell Networking H-series is really an OEM version of Intels' Omni-Path platform, which itself is an alternative for InfiniBand. When managing an OmniPath network many commands are very similar to Infiniband switches.[20]

Dell Networking N series[edit]

The N-series switches come in 3 groups:

N1500: Gigabit layer2 switches[edit]

The N1500 offers a low budget step in model compared to the N2000. The N1500 doesn't have dedicated (back-side) stacking-ports but you can convert 10G ethernet uplink ports to stacking-ports and stack multiple N1500's together.

N2000: Gigabit layer2 switches[edit]

The N2000 is an Ethernet switch with limited IP capabilities. There are two 'sizes': 24 x 1GbaseT or 48 x 1GBaseT ports and each of them available as POE+ or standard switch. All models in the N20xx series can be stacked with other models in the same series. Although they do use same stacking-cables as the N3000 series it is NOT possible to stack N2000 with N3000 switches. All models come with 2 x 10Gbase SFP+ uplink ports and two 'twentigig' stacking ports at the back. Management can be done by assigning IP address to switch or one of the vlan-interfaces.[21] The N2000 is marketed as the follow-up for the legacy PowerConnect 5500 models as well as the Force10 S25 and S50 models.

It is also possible to convert a N2000 series switch to a port-externder for the new C9010 platform. A N2048P would then have exact same features as the 'standard' C1048P port-extender: but for other port-numbers or when you want NO POE support you can convert N2000 switches to port-extenders. But the main reason to do it is to avoid losing investment in your N-series access-platform when moving to the C9010 chassis-based platform with one single point of management.

N3000: Gigabit multi-layer switches[edit]

The N3000 is hardware-wise pretty similar to the N2000 series but the OS offers advanced IP capabilities (including routing protocols like RIP, OSPF, PBR etc.). Besides the 4 model choices as in N2000 (24 or 48 ports, with or without POE+) there is also the N3024F which offers 24 x SFP 1G ports.
Unlike the N2000 series the N3000 has 'combo-ports': All 'copper' based switches offer 2 SFP 1Gb fiber ports (to be used instead of the two higherst numbered RJ45 1GBaseT port) and the N3024F offers two 1 GbaseT RJ45 combo ports (interface 23 and 24). All N3000 series switches also offer two SFP+ 10Gb uplink ports. Optional you can add a module for another two SFP+ ports or two 10GBaseT RJ45 ports. Stacking can be done via the built-in 'twentygig' ports and for management you can use an out-of-band 1G Ethernet management port.[22] The N3000 series is the follow-up for the legacy PowerConnect 6200 and 7000 series as well as the Force10 S50/S55 switches.

It is also possible to convert a N3000 series switch to a port-externder for the new C9010 platform. A N3048P would then have exact same features as the 'standard' C1048P port-extender: but for other port-numbers or when you want NO POE support or 1G fiber (N3024F) you can convert N3000 switches to port-extenders. But the main reason to do it is to avoid losing investment in your N-series access-platform when moving to the C9010 chassis-based platform with one single point of management.

N4000: 10Gbit multi-layer switches[edit]

The N4000 series is the new name for the former PowerConnect 8100 series switch and any PCT8100 that is upgraded to a firmware above will be renamed to a N40xx series switch. There are four main models: N4032F and N4064F with standard 24 or 48 x 10G SFP+ ports, 0 or 2 built-in QSFP+ ports and one module bay; and N4032 and N4064 with 24 or 48 x 10GbaseT RJ45 ports, 0 or 2 built-in QSFP+ ports and one module bay. Each QSFP+ port can be split in a 4 x SFP+ port using a break-out cable. In the module bay you can insert either a two port QSFP+, a 4 x 10GBaseT or a 4 x SFP+ module.
Stacking can be done via 10G or 40G ports and you can 'mix and match' the different N40xx series switches in a single stack. Management can be done 'in band' or via the dedicated out-of-band 1Gb Ethernet interface.[23] See also above section on the PowerConnect 8100 series for model-details.

Datacenter switches[edit]

This page is under re-construction: Please check the Force10 page for the existing portfolio. The information will be migrated to this page shortly

The former Force10 switches are now known as Dell Networking switches, but the model naming will be very similar to the old model naming in Force10:[24]

Dell Networking S series[edit]

The current portfolio of Force10 switches can be split into two main ranges: existing S25, S50, S55 and S60 one gigabit rack-switches which are layer2 or multilayer access-switches and the S4810, S4820T and the new S5000 series. The existing Force10 S-series datacenter bridges will be extended with the S5000 series modular switch. The S5000 will be a modular switch that can support 48 x 10Gb ethernet ports + 4 x 40Gb QSFP ethernet or stacking ports.[25]

The main difference between the S4810 or S4820T series switches is that the S5000 is modular: you can start with less ports and the 2nd big change is that it will be able to have native 8Gb fibre channel ports modules, allowing to connect directly to a native fibre-channel switch (e.g. Brocade FC fabric). Like other switches in the DN S-series the S5000 will support stacking and also Virtual Link Trunking: allowing you to create a LACP port-channel from another switch or even server that terminates on two different (logical or physical) switches.

The S5000 is targeted for datacenter networking as either a 10G access-switch or a datacenter distribution switches. It can also be used as (routing) core switch in smaller datacenters. It fully supports Data Center Bridging (DCB) and can also be used as FCoE or Fibre Channel switch by using a FC interface module. It provides full FC logic allowing one to directly connect FC based SAN's to the switch to fully support FCoE or Converged Networking in combination with the other 10G switches in the Dell Networking range.

The latest S6000 is marketed as either a core or spine switch in a medium-sized datacenter or a leaf switch for (very) large datacenters. The S6000 offers 32 x 40Gb QSFP interfaces which can be 'split' into 4 x 10Gb by using either spliter direct-attached-cable (QSFP->4xSFP+) or optical splitter cables with a maximum of 96 10G SFP+ ports and 8 remaining 40Gb ports. The S6000 is based on the Broadcom Trident2 ASIC[26]

Dell Networking Z-series[edit]

Dell Networking Z-series has two models of high-capacity switches in a 2U (Z9000) or 3U (Z9500) form-factor. The original Z9000 offers 32 line-rate 40Gb QSFP ports while the new Z9500 offers 132 x 40Gb QSFP+ ports. It is possible to buy the Z9500 with only a number of the interfaces actually enabled and via additional licenses to be bought at a later moment in time datacenter owners can spread the investment with the growth of the traffic-demand.

Both switches are designed to be the 'spine' in a spine-leaf distributed core network-design and with the VLT technology fully redundant topologies can be built where two switches (partially) share the datapane but have independent management (unlike stacking where you have only a single management pane).[27]

Dell Networking chassis-based switches[edit]

Besides the range of campus (N-series) and datacenter top-of-rack formfactor switches (S- and Z-series) Dell also offers two ranges of chassis based product lines: the C-series and the E-series. The C-series are rebranded to the Dell model-number naming: one letter followed by 4 digits (instead of the legacy Force10 C150 and C300 chassis) while the E-series have not seen any name-change. see main-article on Force10 chassis based switches

Sources and references[edit]

  1. ^ Finanz Dell to buy Perot systems, September 2009. Retrieved: 17 May 2013
  2. ^ NYTimes: Del acquires systems management vendor KACE, 11 February 2010. Retrieved: 17 May 2013
  3. ^ TheRegister: Dell buying Force10 Networks, 20 July 2011. Retrieved: 17 May 2013
  4. ^ The Register Force10 cranks Ethernet switches to 40 Gigabits, 26 April 2011. Visited 18 May 2012
  5. ^ Video on the Z9000 switch, visited 18 February 2013
  6. ^ Product specifications for Z9000 and Z9500, visited: 29 May 2014
  7. ^ Dell product website Ethernet products Force10 S series, visited 21 January 2012
  8. ^ Overview of Dell Networking switches, visited 20 August 2013
  9. ^ Technical specifications overview of PowerConnect 2800 Series LAN Smart Switches, visited: 20 August 2013.
  10. ^ General brochure on the PowerConnect 3500 series, September, 2010. Visited: 20 August 2013
  11. ^ Technical specification of the Dell PowerConnect 3500 100 Base-T Series Switches, visited: 20 August 2013
  12. ^ General brochure for the Powerconnect 5500 series, 2011. Downloaded: 19 August 2013
  13. ^ Technical specifications of the Powerconnect 5500 series, visited 20 August 2013
  14. ^ Dell PCT5500 CLI reference guide; page 359, power-inline priority settings, March 2013 (rev 05), downloaded: 20 August 2013
  15. ^ a b c Technical specification PowerConnect 6200 series, 2012. Downloaded: 20 August 2013
  16. ^ a b c Technical specifications PowerConnect 7000 series, 31 December 2012. Visited: 21 August 2013
  17. ^ a b Technical specifications PowerConnect 8100, visited: 21 August 2013
  18. ^ E-Week magazine Dell unveils 8100 series for campus networks, 22 August 2012. Visited: 29 August 2012
  19. ^ a b Dell PowerConnect 8100 spec sheet, July 2012. Downloaded: 29 August 2012
  20. ^ Dell website on H-series, visited 17 April, 2017
  21. ^ N2000 model comparison and specifications, visited: 29 May 2014
  22. ^ N3000 Model comparison and specifications, visited: 29 May 2014
  23. ^ N4000 Model comparison and specifications, visited: 29 May 2014
  24. ^ Dell products Force10 Datacenter networking, visited 18 February 2013
  25. ^ Dell Networking S-series datacenter switches, visited 26 May 2013
  26. ^ Dell Networking S6000 Specification Sheet, visited 11 Jan. 2015
  27. ^ Dell website: [overview Z-series switches, visited: 11 January 2015