February 25, 2013, 12:48 PM — The Cisco UCS Express family is a new set of blades that add high-performance general-purpose Intel server capabilities to the ISR G2 series of routers.
We tested the E140D, a mid-range blade, and found it to be a speedy, well-designed, easy to manage and good performing server all stuffed inside of our existing Cisco 3945 ISR G2 branch office router.
Network managers who need general-purpose computing capability will find the UCS Express to be a convenient and tightly integrated device for branch office deployments.
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However, server managers will have to be convinced to abandon their stand-alone servers, as the UCS Express comes at a relatively high cost and doesn't offer the expandability or configuration flexibility of traditional offerings.
Introducing UCS Express
Cisco has a long history of putting general-purpose computers inside its routers. Initially, these add-in blades were devoted to specific tasks, such as running Cisco Call Manager software. The precursors to the UCS Express blades were SRE (Service Ready Engine) blades, running specific qualified applications developed by Cisco and other third-party vendors.
Cisco currently offers three UCS Express blades, a single-wide and two double-wide versions.
The Cisco UCS Express 140S (S for "single") has a four-core Intel CPU and is a single-wide blade, meaning that it takes a normal-size service module slot in an ISR G2 router that's half as wide as the router. You get one single-wide slot in the Cisco 2911, a double-wide slot in the 2921, 2951 and 3925, and two double-wide slots in the 3945. Because the 140S is only about 7 inches wide, it has a more restricted configuration of hard drives (maximum of two 2.5-inch drives) and memory (maximum of two DIMMs, 16GB) than the double-wide versions.