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PIX Firewall Models

The Cisco PIX firewall comes in several models. Unlike the Cisco router series that requires different software for each model, software on the PIX is the same for all models. The only differences across firewall models are size of the unit, power supply capabilities, number of interfaces supported, and failover capabilities.

The four main PIX models are listed here. Table 3.2 displays the firewall model specifications in detail.

The models are as follows:

  • PIX 501

  • PIX 506E

  • PIX 515E

  • PIX 525

  • PIX 535

Table 3.2 displays the default capabilities found on the PIX firewall hardware models.

Table 3.2 PIX Firewall Models
















32MB, 64MB



Flash memory


















Max. number of interfaces

1, + 1 four-port switch











VAC available






Solution for

Small-office/home-office (SOHO)

Remote-office/branch-office (ROBO)

Medium-size office


Enterprise or solution provider


Make sure you know for which solution each firewall model is designed and the simultaneous connections each supports.

Cisco PIX 501 Firewall

The PIX 501 is the entry model into Cisco's firewall family and is intended for small-office/home-office (SOHO) locations. This model has a fixed physical configuration that supports two network interfaces and a single console port for configuration. The inside interface, Ethernet 1, contains a four-port 10/100Mbps Ethernet switch, and the outside interface, Ethernet 0, is a single 10Mbps Ethernet port. The model runs on a 133MHz AMD processor with 16MB of RAM and 8MB of flash memory. The 501, like all PIX firewalls, supports VPN capabilities. A free license for DES IPSec encryption can be acquired; alternatively, for a fee an upgrade to triple DES–level encryption can be obtained. The basic model comes with a 10-user license with VPN DES IPSec support out of the box and can be later upgraded to a 50-user license as required for enhanced scalability.

Figure 3.8 shows the interfaces and console port on the back of the PIX 501. Interfaces 1, 2, 3, and 4 are a four-port switch for the Ethernet 1 interface.

Figure 3.8Figure 3.8 The PIX 501's back panel.

Cisco PIX 506E Firewall

The 506E is a newer, enhanced model of the earlier 506 versions and is intended for remote-office/branch-office (ROBO) locations. This model, similar to the 501, has a fixed physical configuration, supporting two 10/100MHz Ethernet interfaces and a single console port for configuration. The 506E, however, has a 300MHz Intel Celeron processor with 32MB of RAM and 8MB of flash memory. The throughput and processor speed are double that of the 501 model, resulting in a compact and efficient firewall package. Lastly, a USB port is reserved for future enhancements.

Figure 3.9 shows the interfaces on the back of a PIX 506. Notice it has only a single interface on Ethernet 1, unlike the PIX 501 that contains a four-port switch for Ethernet 1.

Figure 3.9Figure 3.9 The PIX 506's back panel.

Cisco PIX 515E Firewall

The 515E is a newer, enhanced model of the earlier 515 versions and is intended for the small to medium-size enterprise market. The model comes in a 1U form factor and has expandable capability that allows for up to six interfaces, as well as failover features and a VPN accelerator card (VAC) available with additional licensing options. The 515E uses a 433MHz Intel Celeron processor with 32MB or 64MB of RAM and 16MB of flash memory.

Figure 3.10 shows an example to the PIX 515E back view. The 15-pin connection on the right is used for the failover cable that can be connected to another PIX 515E to provide failover capability. The USB port is used for future enhancements.

Figure 3.10Figure 3.10 The PIX 515E's back panel.

Cisco PIX 525 Firewall

The 525 is the replacement model for its predecessor, the PIX 520. The 520 actually contained a floppy drive, whereas the 525 does not. The model is extremely powerful and is designed for large enterprise environments in which speed and failover capabilities are a must. It ships in a 2U form factor with expandability that allows for up to eight interfaces, failover features, and a VAC. The PIX 525 uses a 600MHz Intel Pentium III processor with up to 256MB of RAM and 16MB of flash memory. The license schema on this model is based on the number of interfaces and failover support. Lastly, it contains a USB port reserved for future enhancements.

Figure 3.11 displays a typical 525 PIX firewall back view.

Figure 3.11Figure 3.11 The PIX 525's back panel.

Cisco PIX 535 Firewall

The 535 is Cisco's enterprise-class firewall. This model is a 3U form factor that is highly configurable, supporting up to 10 interfaces, some of which can be fiber interfaces. The specification sheet boasts 1Gbps throughput; 500,000 concurrent connections; and 2,000 VPN tunnels. The speed and power of this firewall come from the 1GHz Intel Pentium III with 1GB of RAM. The 535 can contain four 66MHz/64-bit PCI slots and five 33MHz/32-bit PCI slots. The PIX 535 also contains dual redundant power supplies. Figure 3.12 displays the back view of a PIX 535. As you can see in Figure 3.12, three buses are available for Cisco expansion cards.

The PIX 535 supports two main types of PCI interface slots: 32-bit and 64-bit. Table 3.3 displays slot speeds.

Table 3.3 PIX 535 Interface Slots

Interface Slots

Bus Speed

Slots 0 and 1


Slots 2 and 3


Slots 4–8


Figure 3.12Figure 3.12 The PIX 535's back panel.

Cisco PIX Expansion Cards

Cisco provides several optional cards that can expand the PIX's capabilities and performance. The PIX-4FE card is a 33MHz/32-bit card that adds four Ethernet interfaces to your PIX. The PIX-VPN-ACCEL is designed to offload encryption and decryption from the main processor by using an onboard processor and hardware random number generator to increase VPN tunneling performance.

Table 3.4 displays several of the Cisco proprietary cards and their bus speeds.

Table 3.4 PIX Expansion Cards

Interface Card

Maximum Bus Speed




Single-port 10/100 Fast Ethernet PCI expansion card



Four-port 10/100 Fast Ethernet PCI expansion card



3DES IPSec hardware VAC



Single-port Gigabit Ethernet 64-bit/66MHz PCI expansion card


The PIX-4FE and PIX-VPN-ACCEL 32-bit/33MHz cards can be installed only in 32-bit/33MHz slots. Other 32-bit/33MHz cards can be installed in either 66MHz slots or 33MHz slots.

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