I get a lot of questions about the Cisco VS Chassis and how it works. Unfortunately, Cisco's website on the Chassis is very unclear and somewhat inaccurate. Here are some tidbits of information to clear things up.
There are 2 versions of the Chassis currently available. The Fast Ethernet version and the USB version. Either way, this box is simply a power connection with communication ports on it. The actual Encoder or Decoder is a card that slides into the chassis. Those cards often confuse people. Here are some of those items that should be taken into consideration during your design phase:
1. The cards are not interchangeable between the USB Chassis and the FE Chassis.
2. The 4 port Encoder card is only available on the USB chassis (CIVS-4BECMD-C16U=)
3. The Fast Ethernet Chassis can only take 1 port Encoder Cards (CIVS-SG1B-ECMD-C16=)
4. The Fast Ethernet Chassis is only available with an Internal Power Supply which means you can only use 14 of the 16 ports for cards.
5. The USB Chassis requires an External Power Supply Chassis (CIVS-EXTPWR-CHS) which is capable of powering 2 Convergence Chassis. In addition, you need a Power Supply Module for each Convergence Chassis.
6. The cards have an A and B version. The A version is MPEG4 only and has been EOL'd by Cisco. The B Version is MPEG4 and MPEG4 v.10 (H.264).
7. On the USB chassis, 16 ports of Encoding match to each USB. So, the first 4 slots connect to one USB cable. There are 4 USB on the back of the USB encoder.
8. The USB cables for the USB chassis connect to a Cisco Services Platform aka SP (not the Integrated Services Platform aka ISP which has encoder cards built in)
9. There is currently no way to locate the USB Chassis in a separate location as the Recorder (SP) where the USB connection is made. Testing has been done using USB to Fiber converters, but the results are mixed due to the inconsistency of video over the 3rd party converter devices.
10. The costs of the cards are the same as the non-chassis cards making the non-chassis solution cheaper (but not as pretty).
11. The chassis does work with both the Cisco Stream Manager systems as well as the Cisco Video Surveillance Manager.
12. The ISP will not connect to the Chassis via USB.
13. Although the Single port Encoders support PTZ controls and alarm inputs, the 4 port Chassis card does not.
14. The Fast Ethernet Chassis has 14 Ethernet ports (1 for each analog port) There is not 16 ports since the first 2 slots are used by the power supply.
Since pictures speak 1000 words. Here are a few to give you a better idea of how the Chassis works.
As always, since this product line is an Emerging Technology, I would suggest getting an expert to assist in developing your design for any large scale system.
Feel free to contact me with questions.