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Throughput vs. Speed – Basics of Copper and Fiber Optic Cables for Superior Data Transmission

Feature Throughput vs. Speed - Basics of Copper and Fiber Optic Cables for Superior Data Transmission

Copper cables have been a staple for data transmission for decades, with their roots tracing back to the telegraph and telephone. Fiber optic cables, introduced in the 1950s, have grown in popularity since the early 1970s. When choosing between copper and fiber optic cables for your applications, understanding the differences in throughput and speed is crucial. Let’s explore the history, transmission methods, and practical applications of these two types of cables.

Throughput vs. Speed - Basics of Copper and Fiber Optic Cables for Superior Data Transmission

The History of Data Cables

Copper cables have been the backbone of long-distance electricity and communication transmission for many years. Fiber optic cables emerged in the 1970s and rapidly gained popularity due to their unique capabilities. While both cable types serve similar purposes, their underlying technology differs significantly.

Copper cables transmit data through electrical impulses, which travel over short and long distances. However, copper has its limitations, including durability, signal loss, security vulnerabilities, and susceptibility to interference.

For more on this you can read our Whitepaper on copper cables below:

WHITEPAPER – Understanding Ethernet Patch Cords in Modern Networks

Whitepaper: Understanding Ethernet Patch Cords in Modern Networks - AnD Cable Products

This whitepaper explores the differences in ethernet cable and connector properties, the relevant Standards and provides a guide to best use cases within data center environments

  • Ethernet Patch Cords and RJ-45 Connectors
  • Ethernet Patch Cords and UTP Cabling
  • Twisted Conductor Pairs – What’s All the Twisting About?
  • Straight-Through and Crossover Patch Cord Cables

Fiber optic cables utilize light pulses for data transmission, produced by an LED and transmitted through strands of specialized glass or plastic. Light and electricity can travel at near-light speeds, theoretically allowing global data transmission within seconds. Advances in fiber optic technology continue to improve data transfer rates.

Read our Whitepaper on fiber optic cables for more below:

WHITEPAPER – Understanding Fiber Optic Cables and Connectors in Modern Networks

Fanned Understanding Fiber Optic Cables and Connectors in Modern Networks

This whitepaper takes a deeper look into the various fiber optic cable and connector types used in modern networks, their specifications, benefits and draw-backs. It details typical applications and use in data center settings.

  • Fiber Optic Cable Types and Attributes
  • Fiber Optic Connector Types and Attributes
  • Fiber Optic Measurements and Classifications

Data Transmission Techniques

Understanding the methods of data transmission is essential, as it directly affects the cable’s reliability, speed, and maximum distance.

Copper cables rely on electrical pulses, which a decoder then interprets back into the original data. Over longer distances, signal attenuation, or deterioration, occurs due to resistance.

Fiber optic cables employ binary-coded light pulses, with a pulse representing a 1 and no pulse a 0. Optical receivers decode these pulses back into electronic data. The cable’s protective cladding and materials help maintain signal strength over long distances.

Speed vs. Throughput

Although both electrical and light pulses transmit data at near-light speeds, fiber optic cables are faster. The critical difference between copper and fiber optic cables is throughput, or the volume of data transmitted within a specific period.

For example, a legacy copper telephone line supports 3,000 simultaneous calls, while modern fiber optic network cables can handle up to 31,000 calls. As data transmission demands increase, the shift towards fiber optic cables is essential.

Throughput in data transmission refers to the cable’s ability to handle a specific data volume within a given time. For instance, some fiber optic cables can transmit up to 10Gbps, while copper cables manage only 25-300 Mbps. This significant difference stems from the cable’s frequency range, with higher frequencies enabling greater throughput.

Copper cables suffer from signal attenuation at both longer distances and higher frequencies. Additionally, their metal construction makes them prone to noise and electromagnetic interference, unlike fiber optic cables.

Selecting the Right Cable for Your Application

The primary factors to consider when selecting a cable are data volume, transmission frequency, distance, and potential interference.

Copper cables still have their place in data centers and other applications, primarily due to their lower cost. They are suitable for power and minimal data transmission across short distances in protected environments.

While copper cables have improved in durability and insulation, fiber optic cables have also advanced, now supporting even higher frequencies in thinner cables. The reduced size of fiber optic cables enhances airflow around server racks, mitigating tangling and breakage issues.

For expert guidance on fiber optic cables for new installations, moves, or changes, reach out to AnD Cable Products. Our team specializes in remote monitoring systems, Zero U cable management installations, and more. We are committed to supporting your business at every stage of development.

About the Author

Louis Chompff - Founder, AnD Cable Products, Rack and Cable ManagementLouis Chompff – Founder & Managing Director, AnD Cable Products
Louis established AnD Cable Products – Intelligently Designed Cable Management in 1989. Prior to this he enjoyed a 20+ year career with a leading global telecommunications company in a variety of senior data management positions. Louis is an enthusiastic inventor who designed, patented and brought to market his innovative Zero U cable management racks and Unitag cable labels, both of which have become industry-leading network cable management products. AnD Cable Products only offer products that are intelligently designed, increase efficiency, are durable and reliable, re-usable, easy to use or reduce equipment costs. He is the principal author of the Cable Management Blog, where you can find network cable management ideas, server rack cabling techniques and rack space saving tips, data center trends, latest innovations and more.
Visit https://andcable.com or shop online at https://andcable.com/shop/

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Optimizing Ethernet in Data Center Networks

Feature Ethernet Data Center Networks - AnD Cable Management Blog

Demand for faster data transfer, and more of it, has exploded exponentially over the last decade. Even before the pandemic, growth was already at exponential rates, but with the work from anywhere trend and more people gaming and streaming from home, demand rose even further. 

With it came an explosion in innovation, and a necessary one. Data Center Interconnects (DCI) Ethernet cable speeds increased from 100 Gb applications to 400 Gb and beyond. Server speeds have gone from 10 Gb to 25 Gb and beyond, with 100 Gb speeds on the horizon, and already in place in some data centers. 

The result is that data centers are now frequently operating like edge computing networks. Here is how it works. 

Ethernet Data Center Networks - AnD Cable Management Blog
Ethernet cable speeds have increased from 100 Gb applications to 400 Gb and beyond

Optimizing Ethernet in Data Centers

There are four factors in optimizing data center ethernet use: speed, power, reach, and latency. Speed is already being enhanced and optimized by the creation of better and more modern cable designs. But for the other areas, there is still work to be done. 

Power

When it comes to power, many data centers have gone green, with their own renewable energy sources. In most cases, they have access to all the power they need. The key is to use it in the most efficient way possible. With more power comes the issue of design, including hot and cold aisle design choices and more. 

Reach

Data center architecture must take a holistic approach, whether you are starting from scratch with a new data center or making moves and changes to update its current infrastructure. Everything from switches and routers to transceivers and overall physical design, reach must be weighed by efficiency vs. cost.

Latency

Finally, latency is related to the final user experience. When it comes to gaming or video conferencing, low latency is the expectation, while when conducting internet searches, it’s not as critical, but can still be an issue for users. As speed increases and fast becomes the norm, latency expectations change with it. 

These three areas are critical to how ethernet is used in data centers, but it is far from the only one. 

Definitive Guide to Understanding Ethernet Patch Cords in Modern Networks - AnD Cable Products Whitepaper
Ethernet cables differences, RJ45 Connectors and T586B vs T568A

Infrastructure Processing Units

How we manage this need for speed is changing on the hardware and software side of things as well. Infrastructure Processing Units (IPUs) run Software Defined Networking (SDN) programs away from the server core. This saves critical server bandwidth, but it comes with an additional load cost. 

As these advances develop, the demand for new and better ethernet cables arises. And as ethernet cables advance, IPUs hardware and software applications evolve as well. Both improve in sync with the other. It’s a developing relationship, but one data center manager’s must take advantage of. 

Edge Computing Centers 

One solution to speed is to move the data center closer to the end user. This has been a developing trend, but increasingly data centers are expanding to distributed models where the interconnections between resources drive both power and speed, creating a better overall experience for the end user, and reducing latency. 

This comes with challenges. As edge computing rapidly becomes the norm, that latency KPI gets lower and lower. Low latency is key, and specifically, DCI applications are critical to meeting new standards. Ethernet connections are a vital part of this change and growth.

The Need for Speed

What’s needed to make all of this work? The first is optical transceivers, which allow data centers to make reductions in the power they use, but enables them to increase bit rates at the same time. This allows for the increase of speed in the leaf-spine connections, a critical component in any data center, but especially those that are hyperscaling. 

This does not come without challenges, as not all ethernet cables are created equally, and interoperability can become an issue. 

To help with this, high-speed breakout cables are often used. These cables have one end that supports the aggregate rate and the other end is a series of disaggregated interfaces. With their speed comes performance challenges, especially over distances. However, there has been some rapid development in this area. 

The New Normal

As 400 Gb speeds become the norm and data centers are increasingly on the edge, there are many advantages. Distributed networks mean easier disaster recovery and backup planning and create the ability to use shared resources to meet shifting demands. 

However, this creates some challenges with testing and maintaining KPIs. Interoperability remains a key component of successful deployments. 

At AnD Cable Products, we understand these challenges. We offer everything your data center needs, from Zero U rack solutions to every type and style of cable you need. We can customize cables for your application, and offer a variety of other hardware solutions to meet your data center needs. When you are ready to upgrade your cables, make moves and changes, or even deploy a new data center or edge computing center, contact us. We’d love to be your partner in innovation

About the Author

Louis Chompff - Founder, AnD Cable Products, Rack and Cable ManagementLouis Chompff – Founder & Managing Director, AnD Cable Products
Louis established AnD Cable Products – Intelligently Designed Cable Management in 1989. Prior to this he enjoyed a 20+ year career with a leading global telecommunications company in a variety of senior data management positions. Louis is an enthusiastic inventor who designed, patented and brought to market his innovative Zero U cable management racks and Unitag cable labels, both of which have become industry-leading network cable management products. AnD Cable Products only offer products that are intelligently designed, increase efficiency, are durable and reliable, re-usable, easy to use or reduce equipment costs. He is the principal author of the Cable Management Blog, where you can find network cable management ideas, server rack cabling techniques and rack space saving tips, data center trends, latest innovations and more.
Visit https://andcable.com or shop online at https://andcable.com/shop/

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Faster Polymer Plastic Cables? Not So Fast!

Faster Polymer Plastic Cables? Not So Fast - AnD Cable Management Blog

Just about a year ago a group from MIT demonstrated a polymer plastic cable the size of a human hair that could transmit data faster than copper – much faster. 

How fast? Well, they recorded speeds of more than 100 gigabits per second! So where is this new technology and where is it headed? Well, here are some answers for you.

Faster Polymer Plastic Cables? Not So Fast - AnD Cable Management Blog
MIT demonstrated a plastic polymer cable the size of a human hair. Photo: MIT, https://news.mit.edu/2021/data-transfer-system-silicon-0224

The Need for Speed

First, perhaps we need to qualify what this speed is, and why computers and data centers need it. 

The first big deal is that these cables act like copper – they can directly connect devices without the need to reformat data. While standard fiber cables are faster, they require a converter to change light signals to electrical signals at each end of the connection. 

Of course, there are a lot of immediate uses for faster cables like these, including in data centers. Artificial intelligence applications like self-driving cars, manufacturing, and countless other applications where data provided as close to “real-time” as possible makes a huge difference. 

But of course, as with all such applications, speed is not the only factor.

Distance

At the moment in a laboratory setting, these cables are only good for short distances, not long ones. That doesn’t mean researchers are not confident in the impact these cables can have. 

Think of a polymer plastic cable that is both durable and lightweight, and can transmit terabits of data over a meter or beyond? Theoretically, this is the possibility, with the idea that such cables could replace USB and even the faster USB-C cables. 

Even at shorter lengths, such cables could be exceptionally useful for transferring data between more than one chip inside a device. The thinner fibers could be used to revolutionize these applications as well, making even smaller and more efficient devices possible. 

We Have the Power

The problem as it currently exists is that transferring data through copper cables consumes more and more power, to the point of diminishing returns, and such transfer generates heat – a lot of heat that must be dissipated and can actually cause damage to cables. 

The fiber optic alternative is not always compatible with silicon chips without the light to electronic transfer mentioned above. The idea behind polymer plastic is to save energy, generate less heat, and still allow for compact connections. 

If this is such a great idea, why is it not on the market yet?

From Laboratory To Market

To transfer such technology from the lab to the market takes a lot of work and requires some potential changes. First, the technology needs to be tested and perfected at a higher level. Since the concept has been established, other labs are now working on it as well, and this could be the fastest part of the process. 

But there is more:

  • New standards would have to be developed for IEEE, established, and agreed upon
  • Potentially, new connectors would need to be created for these cables to interface with other chips and other devices
  • The manufacture of new cables needs to be established at scale before they can become commonly used in any application.
  • A supply chain or the use of existing ones must be established to get cables from the plant to the end-user.

Does this sound like a lot? It is, but it has been done before. The question is, what do those who are building data centers – and would use these cables on a regular basis – think?

The Future is Now

“The need for speed has never been so great,” Bill Lambert, a data center engineer told us. “Ten years ago, no one would even have been talking about devices that would need this kind of speed. We would have told you we would never need that capacity.”

And he’s right. Many of the devices we now use every day, and their speeds would have been unimaginable before, let alone the amount of data we use. But the more we look at the uses for real-time data, the faster we need to get that information from one place to another. 

“It’s like the work from anywhere revolution,” he told us. “The last two years have totally changed what data transfer and speed look like, inside and outside of data centers. It’s a sure bet that the next few will revolutionize these ideas again.”

In an ever-changing field where speed and data matter more than ever, science has just begun to catch up with what we need. And we’re lucky enough to be a part of it. 

Have a question about updating the infrastructure in your current data center or want to learn more about building the infrastructure in a new one? Contact us here at AnD Cable Products. We have everything from the cable management you need to remote monitoring and more. 

We’re glad to be your partners going forward to tomorrow and beyond. 

Physical Layer Environment Network Security Monitoring and Control

A150 Physical Layer Environment Network Security Monitoring and Control System Brochure

Full visibility, network security and control of your physical layer environment. Monitor your entire hybrid cloud and IT infrastructure from a cloud-based, integrated dashboard:

  • Introducing the A150 System
  • A150 System Architecture – High-Level Overview
  • A150 System Features
  • System Controller Hardware and Specifications
  • Monitoring Controllers, Probes and Sensors

About the Author

Louis Chompff - Founder, AnD Cable Products, Rack and Cable ManagementLouis Chompff – Founder & Managing Director, AnD Cable Products
Louis established AnD Cable Products – Intelligently Designed Cable Management in 1989. Prior to this he enjoyed a 20+ year career with a leading global telecommunications company in a variety of senior data management positions. Louis is an enthusiastic inventor who designed, patented and brought to market his innovative Zero U cable management racks and Unitag cable labels, both of which have become industry-leading network cable management products. AnD Cable Products only offer products that are intelligently designed, increase efficiency, are durable and reliable, re-usable, easy to use or reduce equipment costs. He is the principal author of the Cable Management Blog, where you can find network cable management ideas, server rack cabling techniques and rack space saving tips, data center trends, latest innovations and more.
Visit https://andcable.com or shop online at https://andcable.com/shop/

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4 Cable Improvements That Increase Data Center Efficiency and Build Scalability

4 Cable Improvements That Increase Data Center Efficiency and Build Scalability

The data center of the future is needed now. Added to rising growth in a world lived increasingly online, augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and 5G are driving greater demand for data speed and volume. How can you ensure your data center is operating at peak performance now – and has the capacity to sustain performance as demand grows? Building for scalability is the key. Fortunately, those elements that create data center efficiency now lay the groundwork for your ability to respond well in the future.

Jump to section:

4 Cable Improvements That Increase Data Center Efficiency and Build Scalability

Building Data Center Efficiency

When we talk about scalability in data centers, we are actually talking about two different things. The first is the physical layer, which includes new data servers, switches, storage devices and cable managers. By optimizing server rack space and ensuring effective network cable management, efficiency and uptime can be improved, reducing the footprint required for server hardware and lowering equipment costs.

The second, and more complex, is the infrastructure that supports increasing data rates and volumes. With AR, VR, 5G and the IoT demanding data rates and speeds never seen before, data centers need to respond strategically to remain competitive. Given the escalating growth rate, it’s safe to say that decisions made today will have a dramatic impact on capacity to deliver unprecedented volumes of data, both in and out. For peak data center efficiency, you need to be dense (physical), fast (the right cabling), and cost effective. This includes transitioning from 40G to 100G and eventually the emerging 400G ethernet capability. It not only means more fiber cable, but an increased number of connections. The following factors will affect data center efficiency and scalability directly.

Bandwidth

The demand for speed and higher bandwidth has instigated a migration from OM3 and OM4 multimode cabling to the faster and more efficient OM5. OM5 has some serious advantages over OM3/4, including:

  • Color – OM5 is ‘lime green’ in color, while the OM3/4 is usually aqua colored
  • Compatibility – Jacket size remains at the industry recognized standard (2mm), so it can be retrofitted with OM3/4 without a major change in infrastructure
  • Scalability – OM5 has the capacity to support current data needs and the 400G needs of the future
  • More efficient – OM5 is more efficient at longer distances

It’s worth noting that OM5 is more expensive currently, as cables have to be custom made, whereas OM3/OM4 are production cables, pre-made by the thousands and in all stock lengths.

Because of this, perhaps the best feature of OM5 is its compatibility with OM3/4. There is no need to change the entire network at once, so changes can be made incrementally as the needs of the data center change.

The main thing to remember is that scalability demands the ability to increase bandwidth at need. Hence the time to plan for what’s next is now.

Insertion Loss

The simplified version of insertion loss is this: the more connectors you have, the greater potential there is for loss of speed. A lower insertion loss means a stronger signal. Data centers should understand their insertion loss margin.

This margin is the actual insertion loss experienced vs. the standard insertion loss, and it can be affected by a number of things. So how do you reduce insertion loss?

  • Rack optimization – The right rack and cabling solutions will reduce the distance data has to travel, decreasing loss
  • Air flow – Temperature controls, or factoring in realistic temperatures, help manage insertion loss expectations
  • Connectors fit for purpose – The right connection components will also reduce loss, and the expected loss of these components should be factored in when being calculated

Efficient data center that are set up to be denser and reduce the distance data has to travel, have lower potential for insertion loss. Note the word “potential.” Since many factors, from the quality of cabling and connections, to the efficiency of rack and cabling solutions can have an impact, its necessary to look at this factor from several angles.

Skew

Skew is the difference between the time it takes light to travel on different fibers. Too much skew can result in data loss or errors.

The standards for skew are tight in parallel optical cabling solutions, as low as .075 n-s (nanoseconds). The simple reason for this, is that skew can affect the longevity of optical cables and how scalable they are when it comes to higher data rates and volumes – two of the primary factors in scalability.

This is another factor that can get complicated at times, and is influenced by the length of cables, the type of cable used and more. The key is to know what to look for in parallel optical circuits: low skew components with tight tolerances over the distance you need to run them.

Physical Layer Optimization

We’ve mentioned that for peak data center efficiency, you need to be dense, fast and cost effective, enabling you to be scalable and respond rapidly to future data volume and speed needs. While cabling and connectors are important, the fourth factor is making the best use of your physical layer.

Fundamental to this is the optimization of server racks and cable management systems. This means optimizing your server configuration. One of the smartest ways to do so, is to replace your 1RU and 2RU horizontal managers with intelligently designed Zero U cable managers, which use no additional rack space. The patented system design by AnD Cable Products can take you from using four racks to three through smart rack optimization.

Multiply that by the number of server racks in your system, and you’re looking at real space savings. Add better cable management and more efficient cables, and you can reduce your physical footprint, and equipment costs, significantly.

Cable management systems need to help regulate air flow, ensure devices are easily accessible and allow for cable identification and tracking.

The choices you make now around how you optimize your rack and cable management, bandwidth, insertion loss and skew can set you apart and ensure your readiness to meet the needs of tomorrow.

How are you preparing to meet the future, today? Have questions about your current rack systems, cables, and even system security? AnD Cable Products can help – Contact us today.

Understanding Stranded and Solid Conductor Wiring in Modern Networks

Understanding Stranded and Solid Conductor Wiring in Modern Networks - AnD Cable Products Whitepaper

An overview of the differences between stranded and solid conductor wiring, the properties of each and the best cable type to use in a variety of typical settings.

  • Types of Stranded and Solid Conductor Wiring
  • Comparison of Electrical Properties
  • Factors Impacting Attenuation / Insertion Loss
  • Choosing the Right Cable

Shop Our Network Cables Range Now

About the Author

Louis Chompff - Founder, AnD Cable Products, Rack and Cable ManagementLouis Chompff – Founder & Managing Director, AnD Cable Products
Louis established AnD Cable Products – Intelligently Designed Cable Management in 1989. Prior to this he enjoyed a 20+ year career with a leading global telecommunications company in a variety of senior data management positions. Louis is an enthusiastic inventor who designed, patented and brought to market his innovative Zero U cable management racks and Unitag cable labels, both of which have become industry-leading network cable management products. AnD Cable Products only offer products that are intelligently designed, increase efficiency, are durable and reliable, re-usable, easy to use or reduce equipment costs. He is the principal author of the Cable Management Blog, where you can find network cable management ideas, server rack cabling techniques and rack space saving tips, data center trends, latest innovations and more.
Visit https://andcable.com or shop online at https://andcable.com/shop/