Turbocharge the Quanta LB6M with Brocade TurboIron

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Quanta Lb6m Front
Quanta Lb6m Front

The Quanta LB6M is a popular 10Gb SFP+ Ethernet switch. STH readers started using this switch in 2015 and it has spawned a lot of discussion in the STH forums. The Quanta LB6M was used by a large US hyper-scaler as a top of rack switch. From what we are told, the hyper-scaler used two 24-port switches in an older architecture generation. As this older infrastructure is decommissioned both used and new spares have become extremely inexpensive. That makes them excellent project switches with pricing approaching 1GbE speeds ($12.50/ port.)

One of the weaknesses of the switch is a limited feature set of the Quanta switch software found on these switches. A team of STH readers has figured out how to flash the Quanta LB6M with Brocade FastIron software to get a massive, well documented, feature set. The effort was spearheaded by fohdeesha and verygeeky on the STH forums and fvanlint was the brave soul who first tried the update other than these two and helped develop the documentation and process for installation.

Quanta LB6M Background

The Quanta LB6M is a 24-port 10GbE switch that retails for around $300 new. It also has features such as redundant power supplies and a handful of 1GbE ports. Unlike newer generations of switches, it uses a power-hungry chipset to provide L2/L2+ functionality. If you are looking for inexpensive L2 networking, using the embedded QOS is a solid option. If you, on the other hand, want L3 functionality then you need a different software solution. Some enterprising STH readers have figured out how to load Brocade TurboIron 24X software onto the switch.

Turbocharging the Quanta LB6M with Brocade TurboIron 24X Software

The Brocade TurboIron 24X is a switch that was EOL’d in early 2017. In terms of hardware, the hardware of the Brocade TurboIron 24X and the Quanta LB6M were nearly identical which means one simply needs a license and the ability to boot the software on the new switch. Upon successful upgrade, you will have several new features:

  • 1GbE SFP support
  • Well-documented (3000+ pages) and expanded feature set
  • BGP capabilities
  • Properly working stp/rstp/mstp
  • QoS, traffic shaping/limiting/ACL etc
  • Q-in-Q tagging
  • Tons of multicast features
  • SFlow with a config that doesn’t disappear on reboot
  • Well documented/supported snmp MIB
  • Deeper and more configurable syslog features
  • General sanity

If you are looking for a well-supported enterprise switch, get something newer. If you are simply looking for cheap 10GbE on solid hardware, this is a cool lab solution.

Lb6M Brocade X24_preview
Lb6M Brocade X24_preview

Disclaimer & Caveats

Important when doing any upgrade is that there are always disclaimers and caveats, here are the disclaimers from the authors:

We are not responsible for any damaged devices or property resulting from this guide. This guide assumes you own a legitimate Brocade TurboIron and therefore have rights to the firmware & its use. Two things will also change due to hardware differences:

  • The SFP+ activity/status LEDs stop doing anything. The copper ports and chassis LEDs continue to work as normal. We believe the Brocade lights use an I2C I/O expander with a different I2C address than that of the Quanta’s, or even a different set of I/O on the chipset entirely. Only an aesthetic change, everything else functions as normal.
  • The Brocade only has one Out Of Band management port. Your #2 OOB port will no longer do anything. You’ll still have OOB management as usual on mgmt #1, and of course in-band management on all the normal ports.
  • While it may be possible to flash back to Quanta, we haven’t investigated this (the Brocade bootloader does not have the same raw copy commands), so, for now, assume this is a one-way trip. A trip worth taking, we think.

At STH we would also mention that you also will need a Brocade TurboIron 24X license to use this software on the Quanta LB6M.

Learning More

If you want to learn more, visit the official project site here and the GitHub here.

The authors started a thread on the STH forums here for those who are attempting this upgrade so you can ask questions there.

If you want to get a switch, you can head over to ebay. If you are trying this soon, we do have a STH coupon at UnixPlus for $50 off the new switch until the end of March 2018. Note: STH does not receive a commission from the coupon and UnixPlus is not an advertiser at STH as of 2017. UnixPlus has an inventory of new in box LB6Ms. Here is what Patrick received in terms of condition:

Quanta LB6M New In Box
Quanta LB6M New In Box

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