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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?

Starting in the first quarter of 2012 a plethora of new switches, servers, and NICs that incorporate new 40nm 10GBase-T transceivers will be introduced. These will bring new price points and features as well as significantly reduced power dissipation and operating costs. More importantly, LAN-on-motherboard (LOM) chips are being developed that will allow server manufacturers to offer 10GBase-T as the default connectivity option. The implications of this development are quite profound, as they foretell servers with preconfigured Ethernet connections able to negotiate 100M, 1G, or 10G, depending on the capabilities of the link partner on the other end of the line. Data center designers and managers will want to be ready for such a development by deploying a 10GBase-T-capable switch, which can extract the full capability of the server it is connected to.

In this two-part article, we have examined the rising prominence of 10G Ethernet in the data center and explored the various options available for connectivity at these rates. We have focused on the 10GBase-T connectivity option and come to the conclusion that it is the most flexible, economical, backwards-compatible, and user-friendly 10G Ethernet connectivity option available. We have examined the basics of 10GBase-T transceiver operation and outlined the benefits of 10GBase-T technologynamely the ability to interoperate with legacy slower technologies, the use of ubiquitous and inexpensive cabling and connectors, the flexibility of full structured wiring reach, the ease of Cat6A cabling deployment, and various power-saving options. We addressed the implications of 10GBase-T technology availability to data center architectures in the context of alternatives to the currently popular ToR switch placement. This information should empower those responsible for data center design and operation to prepare for the near future, in which 10GBase-T solutions will become prevalent.

About the authors
Ron Cates is vice president of marketing, networking products, at PLX Technology, Sunnyvale, Calif. a leader in 10GBASE-T transceivers. He has more than 30 years of experience in the semiconductor industry and holds BSEE and MSEE degrees from the University of California at Los Angeles and an MBA from San Diego State University.

George Zimmerman is an independent consultant, specializing in physical layer communications technology. He is an acknowledged expert in wireline communications and has been a defining force in the development of 10GBASE-T, Energy Efficient Ethernet, and various DSL technologies. He holds a PhD. in electrical engineering from Caltech, and an undergraduate degree from Stanford University.

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