STP provides a loop-free network at the Layer 2 level. Layer 2 LAN ports send and receive STP frames, which are called Bridge Protocol Data Units (BPDUs), at regular intervals. Network devices do not forward these frames but use the frames to construct a loop-free path.
802.1D is the original standard for STP, and many improvements have enhanced the basic loop-free STP. You can create a separate loop-free path for each VLAN, which is named Per VLAN Spanning Tree (PVST+). Additionally, the entire standard was reworked to make the loop-free convergence process faster to keep up with the faster equipment. This STP standard with faster convergence is the 802.1w standard, which is known as Rapid Spanning Tree (RSTP).
Finally, the 802.1s standard, Multiple Spanning Trees (MST), allows you to map multiple VLANs into a single spanning tree instance. Each instance runs an independent spanning tree topology.
Although the software can interoperate with legacy 802.1D systems, the system runs Rapid PVST+ and MST. You can use either Rapid PVST+ or MST in a given VDC; you cannot mix both in one VDC. Rapid PVST+ is the default STP protocol for Cisco NX-OS for the Nexus 5000 Series devices.
Cisco NX-OS for the Nexus 5000 Series devices uses the extended system ID and MAC address reduction; you cannot disable these features.
In addition, Cisco has created some proprietary features to enhance the spanning tree activities.