About ACI Fabric Fundamentals
The ACI fabric supports more than 64,000 dedicated tenant networks. A single fabric can support more than one million IPv4/IPv6 endpoints, more than 64,000 tenants, and more than 200,000 10G ports. The ACI fabric enables any service (physical or virtual) anywhere with no need for additional software or hardware gateways to connect between the physical and virtual services and normalizes encapsulations for Virtual Extensible Local Area Network (VXLAN) / VLAN / Network Virtualization using Generic Routing Encapsulation (NVGRE).
The ACI fabric decouples the endpoint identity and associated policy from the underlying forwarding graph. It provides a distributed Layer 3 gateway that ensures optimal Layer 3 and Layer 2 forwarding. The fabric supports standard bridging and routing semantics without standard location constraints (any IP address anywhere), and removes flooding requirements for the IP control plane Address Resolution Protocol (ARP) / Generic Attribute Registration Protocol (GARP). All traffic within the fabric is encapsulated within VXLAN.
Decoupled Identity and Location
The ACI fabric decouples the tenant endpoint address, its identifier, from the location of the endpoint that is defined by its locator or VXLAN tunnel endpoint (VTEP) address. The following figure shows decoupled identity and location.
Forwarding within the fabric is between VTEPs.The mapping of the internal tenant MAC or IP address to a location is performed by the VTEP using a distributed mapping database. After a lookup is done, the VTEP sends the original data packet encapsulated in VXLAN with the Destination Address (DA) of the VTEP on the destination leaf. The packet is then de-encapsulated on the destination leaf and sent down to the receiving host. With this model, we can have a full mesh, loop-free topology without the need to use the spanning-tree protocol to prevent loops.