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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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7 Considerations When Choosing Fiber Optic Cable

7-Considerations-When-Choosing-Fiber-Optic-Cable-Feature-Image

Fiber optic cable has become the go-to choice for a variety of applications by data center managers. The reasons are many, including advances in cable technology that make it an even better choice. But there are several things to consider when choosing fiber optic cable to ensure it’s the right fit for the application. Here are seven of the most important ones.

Jump to Section:

  1. Distance
  2. Interference
  3. Bandwidth
  4. Security
  5. Cable Size
  6. Cost
  7. Durability
Choosing Fiber Optic Cable - Discover 7 Considerations - Cable Management Blog
Choosing Fiber Optic Cable – Discover 7 Considerations

Distance

One of the big advantages of fiber optic cable is the loss factor: fiber only loses 3% of data over 100 meters compared to much greater losses with copper cables like CAT6 cables. While copper may be a great choice for short distances, the longer the cable needs to be, the bigger advantage to choosing fiber optic cable.

So the first factor to consider when choosing fiber optic cable is the distance the data must travel.

Interference

Fiber is fully resistant to interference from various sources like power lines, lightning storms, and even deliberate scrambling and disruption. So while the first consideration is how far the data must travel, the second consideration is where the data may travel. In data centers, whether cables are managed by running overhead or the less common instance of running through underfloor spaces, there can be sources of interference in or near that path.

This is also true in edge data centers, where everything is more compact and closer together. This is also true in modular data centers, and the right fiber cable can ensure that you can scale quickly and easily as needed. As we move toward collocation and hyper scaling, this becomes even more important.

Bandwidth

Data centers must be prepared for the future, and the bandwidth your cables can handle is a big part of that. For instance, the rise in the use of OM5 cables over OM3/4 especially in new builds is an indication that data centers are preparing for increased 5G and traffic from VR and AR applications.

This is essential to prepare for the coming 400G demands, especially in Edge data centers. As “work from home” or “work from anywhere” becomes the norm, even smaller residential data centers will be inundated with new traffic, as we saw through the COVID-19 pandemic. It seems that more companies are shifting to hybrid workforces, moving their corporate headquarters out of city center areas that are more expensive to rent, and even enabling partially or fully remote workforces.

Combine that with increases in “shopping from home” and multiple streaming devices, and speed and bandwidth are more important than ever.

Security

Of course, security is one of the top concerns for any data center. A single breach can put an entire company out of business, and result in serious issues if the data of thousands of customers is compromised. While most security issues are found in software and in the human factor (like compromised passwords) there is still a certain amount of risk in physical hardware.

However, fiber cables are difficult to compromise without the intrusion being detected, which means at the very least, using fiber cables, especially in areas where they could be potentially compromised physically, is a vital part of an overall data center security plan. Choosing the right cable in the right place can make the difference between protecting your data center’s security and digital assets, and a potentially costly data breach.

Cable Size

Over time, thinner fiber cables that carry as much data as their larger counterparts have been developed, making it practical to use fiber nearly anywhere. These thinner cables can also be bent and routed easily, saving space in your cable management systems.

Thinner cables also contribute to higher airflow and more efficient cooling, another potential area of cost savings. Fiber cables can also be bundled, organized, and labeled easily, preventing the spaghetti mess that often accumulates at the rear of server racks. Of course, this can also be prevented by having a better cable management plan in place.

In short, consider the size of cable you are using in any given area, and weigh that with other factors like distance, interference, and bandwidth.

Cost

Above, we mentioned OM5 being the future of fiber cables, but their wide adoption will come as they are produced in various lengths and sizes on a larger scale. This is because at the moment, they are produced to custom specifications. However, as OM3/4 are still viable and compatible with OM5, you can update your data center in incremental stages, and still utilize the less expensive OM3/4 cables as needed.

You’ll want to weigh cost against performance. Yes, OM5 is the best way to prepare for the future, but that can be done in cost-effective stages as your data center changes and grows. Replacing cables when you are doing moves and changes, or a new build will save you money in the long run.

Durability

Choosing fiber optic cable is easy when it comes to durability, as it’s an extremely durable cable for the most part. It is important that you evaluate where and how the cable is being used when choosing the proper cable. Where bends happen, and in an area where there may be more moves and changes than normal, you will want the most durable cable for that application.

Fiber comes in different diameters and insulation levels, and so you should be sure to choose the right one for that particular application. Evaluate several ways you can improve cable use to increase efficiency and scalability.

When choosing fiber optic cable that’s the best fit in any given application, be sure to take all of these factors into consideration. Need more information? You can check out some of the great information on our blog and in our various white papers, but if you still have questions, reach out to us. We’d love to start a conversation about how we can meet your data center cabling needs at any scale.

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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 cabel 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 space saving tips, data center trends, latest innovations and more.
Visit https://andcable.com or shop online 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/