Choose Copper or Fiber Cabling Solutions for 1 GbE and 10 GbE Infrastructure
It is ususally troublesome for subscribers to select cabling solutions for Ethernet application, especially for those inexperienced end users. 1G and 10G Ethernet network have been widely utilized to provide high-bandwidth services. Fiber and copper cabling are the two common cabling standards that can both support 1G and 10G Ethernet application. Thus, today's article will highlight these two cabling solutions for 1 Gigabit Ethernet and 10 Gigabit Ethernet application.
For 1 GIgabit Ethernet Cabling
Both fiber and copper cable connections are available for 1GbE application. But which one is more suitable for 1G Ethernet infrastructure?
- 1GbE Fiber Cabling
Compared with copper cabling, the most obvious advantages of fiber cabling are long-reach and high performance. Optical fiber connection for 1GbE connectivity is typically constructed with optical transceivers that receives digital signals from the Ethernet device (switch or adapter card) and converts them to optical signals for transmission over the fiber. The most widely used transceiver for 1 Gigabit Ethernet is SFP (small form factor pluggable). Figure 1 shows high-density SFP optical transceivers connected by fiber patch cables LC to LC.
As we all know, fiber optical cables can be classified into single-mode and multimode cables. The difference in cable choices comes from the distance limitations encountered with the various types of optical transmission. Short range supports connections of up to 550 meters, while long range supports connections of up to 10 kilometers. Multimode fiber cables are typically used for short range transmission and single-mode fiber cables are used for long range transmission.
On the other hand, fiber optical cables can also be categorized by the connector types. The main differences among types of connectors lie in dimensions and methods of mechanical coupling. Multimode fiber cables and single-mode fiber cables require different connectors. SC and LC connectors are the most common types.
- 1GbE Copper Cabling
For copper cables supporting 1 Gigabit Ethernet, the Category 5 unshielded twisted pair (Cat5-UTP) is utilized. With a RJ45 connector on either end, Cat 5 can support connections of up to 100 meters. Cat5e, an enhanced version of the Category 5, is the most used Ethernet cabling today. For lower speed (10 or 100 Mbps) connections, only two of the four pairs in Cat 5 cables are used. For 1 Gigabit Ethernet application, all four pairs are used.
Therefore, just as the unsettled debate over fiber and copper fiber selection, there is no absolute answer to define which one is better than the other. So let’s move on to the 10G Ethernet application.
For 10 Gigabit Ethernet Cabling
The 10GbE cabling choices are nearly the same with the 1 Gigabit Ethernet. Here is what you need to know about 10GbE cabling connectivity.
- 10GbE Fiber Cabling
The fiber cabling options are very similar with 1GbE connectivity. Fiber and copper cabling solutions are available, but the optical transceivers are different. An enhanced version of the SFP transceivers—SFP+ was standardized for use with 10 Gigabit Ethernet. It is capable of supporting the higher data rate—10 Gbps. Besides SFP+ transceiver, XFP (10 Gigabit small form factor pluggable) transceiver also can support 10 Gigabit Ethernet. Compared with XFP, the SFP+ has smaller form factor allowing for much more dense packaging of ports on switches. Moreover, the direct attach copper (DAC) cable, supporting 10Gbps Ethernet data transmission, has two SFP+ connectors on both end. This 10G direct attach copper cable supports transmission distance up to 12-15 meters, which is often more than enough for interconnecting systems in racks in data centers. With these two capabilities, SFP+ has become the predominant 10 Gigabit Ethernet interface. The following picture shows a SFP+ transceiver connected with a patch cord LC-LC.
For 10 Gigabit Ethernet fiber cabling, the short range fiber cables or multimode fiber can support connections of up to 300 meters and long range fiber cables (or single-mdoe fiber) can support connections of up to 2 kilometers. Besides these two, a new option is also available—extended range (for connections of up to 10 kilometers). LC and SC are also the common connector types. Note that these cables can be connected to either XFP or SFP+ transceivers. The connector type defines the mechanical specifications of the fiber-to-transceiver interface. Thus, one could have a XFP transceiver on one end of a 10G Ethernet fiber cable and a SFP+ transceiver on the other end. As long as the cable type and connector type match, there is no problem.
- 10GbE Copper Cabling
The Cat5 or the enhanced version Cat5e is not capable of meeting the bandwidth and crosstalk demands of 10GbE’s higher transmission speeds. Thus 10GBASE-T is the latest proposed 10GbE standard for use with unshielded twisted-pair (UTP) style cabling. This standard still uses RJ45 connectors for a 4-wire twisted pair cable with even more stringent limitations on cross-talk. To meet the needs of 10GbE, a Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) subcommittee for cabling specifications is working to provide additional specifications that will help vendors create sufficient cabling. The expected cabling standard is Category 6A (Cat 6A), designed with existing Cat 6 cable but measured and specified to higher frequencies with a limited distance of 100m. In addition to Cat 6A, 10GBASE-T will operate on Category 7 (Cat 7) cables.
This article clearly explains the two cabling options for 1GbE and 10GbE infrastructure. We can not tell which one is better than the other. Subscribers should make their own decision according to their cost and performance. Fiberstore as a professional telecom supplier, offers a full range of optical transceivers and fiber optic cables. Most of our devices are offered with high quality and low price. For more detailed information, you can directly contact us.