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Maximizing 10GBase-T connectivity in data centers (Part 2)

Posted: 13 Apr 2012 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:10GBase-T? 10Gbps? cable fiber?

Since twisted-pair cabling and RJ45 connectors have been a part of the data center infrastructure for many years, techniques and tools for terminating (attaching connectors to) Cat6 and Cat6A cables on the data center floor exist and are in wide spread use. Such tools give mangers the flexibility of cutting spooled cable to needed lengths rather than ordering and keeping an inventory of pre-defined lengths of terminated cable, as would be the case for either optical or twin-ax counterparts. Another advantage of UTP cable is that, unlike optical fiber, which requires tight control of bend radius, deployment rules for bending and twisting are significantly relaxed, allowing easy installation in even the tightest places. Figure 2 shows the various types of twisted pair cabling available.

Figure 2: Various Ethernet twisted pair cabling types. 10GBase-T can operate with all types, but Cat6A is specifically designed to allow it to obtain a reach of 100m.

1. Category 5e, 5.6mm (.220") dia. (for 1GBase-T)
2. Category 6 UTP, 6.5mm (.256") dia.
3. Category 6 500MHz U/FTP, 6.8mm (.268") dia.
4. Category 6a U/FTP, 7.4mm (.292") dia.
5. Category 6a UTP, 8.89mm (.350") dia.
6. Category 6a UTP, 8.89mm (.350") dia.
7. Category 6a UTP, 8.89mm (.350") dia.
8. Category 7 S/FTP, 8.3mm (.327") dia.

Figure 3: 10GBase-T Transceiver power per port. The reductions in per-port power demonstrated over three prior generations are expected to continue in future lithography generations.

Power saving modes
One of the arguments against 10GBase-T has been power dissipation, though this is for the most part driven by looking at early implementations of the technology. Recent advances in semiconductor lithography have allowed 10GBase-T transceivers to enjoy a dramatic reduction in the power they dissipate during normal operation. From a per-port power of over 6W just a few years ago (interestingly enough, the same power per port that 1000Base-T initially shipped at), the new 40nm transceivers today are capable of sub 4W performance. And due to continuing shrinkage of chip feature sizes and the famous Moore's Law, the 28nm devices that will become available in the 2012 time frame promise to bring power dissipation down further to about 2.5W per port when operating over a 100-meter line. For shorter length lines, most modern transceivers allow a tradeoff between power dissipation and reach. In a 30-meter mode, for example, a 28nm device's power dissipation is expected to be in the 1.5W range. Figure 3 depicts the power dissipation of 10GBase-T transceivers as semiconductor lithography has improved.

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