[c-nsp] 3550-12 interrupts out of control, possibly hardware?

Andy Dills andy at xecu.net
Thu Aug 16 12:36:19 EDT 2012

I've got a customer with a weird situation.

They have a pretty straightforward setup, two 7200s fronting two cisco 
3550-12s, distributing to a series of 48 port 3550s. It's a bit dated, but 
works very well for their needs.

They have one special network attached to (only) one of the copper gige 
ports on (one of) the 3550-12s which gets a decent amount of traffic 
(~100mbps or so). It's a layer 3 connection.

Well, one of their 3550-12s died, taking down that network. They moved the 
IP configuration of the port and moved the cable immediately, restoring 
service, and racked/configured a replacement switch, but left that network 
on the second 3550-12, as it seemed fine. 

However, once it began to come under load this morning, the CPU pegged 
(80-99%, normally at 1-2%), causing packet drops and latency.

At that point I got involved, and for the life of me I can't figure out 
why this happened. Clearly it's interrupts, as there were no processes in 
the "sh proc cpu" that had more than 1% of CPU. However, cef was working 
fine, everything looked normal in terms of the traditional interrupt-based 

So, after scratching our heads for a bit, I had them move the connection 
back to the original, newly-replaced switch. Note that these switches are 
configured 100% identically with the exception of IP address and hostname. 
Same IOS versions. I mean literally, if you diff the two in rancid, those 
are the only config changes.

Zero problems from the point they moved the connection off of the switch 
in question, both switches now have 1-2% CPU and things are humming along 

So, my question is: What could be the possible causes of this? Could this 
be a symptom of failing hardware, perhaps some bad memory requiring 
constant CPU corrections?


Andy Dills
Xecunet, Inc.

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