Cisco Catalyst 6500 Series Switches

CAT 6500 and 7600 Series Routers and Switches TCAM Allocation Adjustment Procedures

Document ID: 117712

Updated: Jun 09, 2014

Contributed by Pete Lumbis, Cisco TAC Engineer.



This document describes how to adjust the routing Ternary Content Addressable Memory (TCAM) allocations on 3BXL modules for the Cisco Catalyst 6500 and 7600 Series routers and switches.

Background Information

On the Catalyst 6500 and 7600 Series platforms, all of the routing information is stored in special high-speed memory called TCAM. More specifically, the Catalyst 6500 and 7600 Series platforms have three different types of TCAM:

  • Forwarding Information Base (FIB), or routing TCAM
  • Access Control List (ACL) TCAM
  • Netflow TCAM

When a route is programmed into the Cisco Express Forwarding (CEF) table in the main memory (RAM), a second copy of that route is stored in the hardware TCAM memory on the Supervisor as well as any Distributed Forwarding Card (DFC) modules on the linecards.

This document focuses on the FIB TCAM; however, the information in this document can also be used in order to resolve these error messages:

%MLSCEF-SP-4-FIB_EXCEPTION_THRESHOLD: Hardware CEF entry usage is at 95%
 capacity for IPv4 unicast protocol

%MLSCEF-DFC4-7-FIB_EXCEPTION: FIB TCAM exception, Some entries will be
 software switched

%MLSCEF-SP-7-FIB_EXCEPTION: FIB TCAM exception, Some entries will be
 software switched


In March, 2014, the Classless Inter-Domain Routing (CIDR) Report, which provides statistics on the global Internet routing table, reported that the global Internet routing table had passed 500,000 routes for the first time in Internet history.

Most platforms have more than enough space to support larger routing tables, but the default configurations might require adjustment. As the Internet routing table approaches 512,000 routes, it can cause the Catalyst 6500 and 7600 3BXL-based modules to exceed the default routing TCAM allocations.

Note: The Supervisor-2T module supports 1,000,000 routes that are dynamically shared between IPv4 and IPv6 by default.

This table shows the Supervisor modules and DFCs that are affected by the continued growth of the IPv4 Internet routing table:

Product NameDefault IPv4 TCAM SpaceMaximum IPv4 TCAM Space

On the 3BXL Series modules, the default FIB TCAM space for the IPv4 routes is 512k routing entries. You can enter the show mls cef maximum-routes command in order to view this information:

7600#show mls cef max
FIB TCAM maximum routes :
Current :-
 IPv4 + MPLS         - 512k (default)
 IPv6 + IP Multicast - 256k (default)

The FIB TCAM is a single block of memory that is shared between the IPv4 routes/MPLS labels and the IPv6 routes/Multicast routes.

The total memory space cannot be changed unless you replace the Supervisor and the DFC module, but you can adjust the amount of memory that is allocated to either the IPv4/MPLS or the IPv6/Multicast.


You can enter the mls cef maximum-routes ip <number in thousands> command in order to adjust the number of routing entries that are allocated to the IPv4. This does not increase the overall size of the FIB TCAM, but it reduces the number of routing entries that are allocated to the IPv6 in order to increase the amount of TCAM space for the IPv4.

7600 (config)#mls cef maximum-routes ip 1000
 Maximum routes set to 1024000. Configuration will be effective on reboot.

Note: This example reduces the total number of available MPLS labels, IPv6 routes, and IPv4 multicast routes to only 8,000. An increase in the size of the IPv4 TCAM space always reduces the amount of TCAM space that is available to other protocols. Consider the current and future MPLS, IPv6, and multicast needs of your network before you perform TCAM adjustments.

After you adjust the maximum-routes, a reboot is required before this change becomes active (there is no operational impact before the reboot). After the reboot, you can enter the show mls cef maximum-routes command in order to view the new TCAM allocations:

7600# show mls cef maximum-routes
FIB TCAM maximum routes :
Current :-
 IPv4                - 1000k
 MPLS                - 8k (default)
 IPv6 + IP Multicast - 8k (default)

After the adjustment, the total FIB TCAM size is unchanged. The total number of MPLS labels for the IPv6 routes that can be used is reduced, which now allows for 1,000,000 IPv4 routes.

Updated: Jun 09, 2014
Document ID: 117712