Guide for Choosing Suitable Cat6 Cables

Though the Cat8 patch cable is arousing more and more attention in the market, the previous generations of patch cables such as Cat6 still play an important role in wired networks. At present, Cat6 cable can be categorized by shielding type, conductor type, flame retardant class, costs, length, color, etc. And it is widely used in home, SMB applications, and data center where up to 10GBase-T networks are used. Cat6 cable can meet the requirements of fast transmission and excellent signal quality. Then how to choose suitable Cat6 cables for different applications? This article may show you some clues.

Overview of Cat6 Cables

Defined by EIA/TIA standards, Cat6 (Category 6) patch cable is the sixth generation of twisted pair Ethernet cabling. It contains four pairs of copper wires and uses all the pairs for signaling in order to obtain its high level of performance. Being backward compatible with all the previous categories, Cat6 cable operates at up to 250 MHz. And it can support up to 1000BASE-T within 100m and 10 Gigabit Ethernet over the limited distance (37-55 meters) specified in the industry. Due to its high data transfer speeds and dependability, Cat6 cable is widely used in home, business networks, and data centers.

Cat6 patch cable

Figure1: Cat6 patch cable

What Need to Consider When Choosing Cat6 Cables?

The appropriate application of Cat6 cables can help save money, decrease the install and maintenance time, and meet the future-proofing network requirements. So it is necessary to know how to choose suitable Cat6 cables. Actually, to buy suitable Cat6 patch cable, many factors can be taken into consideration, such as shielding type, conductor type, flame retardant class, etc. Here, we have summarized several main features that help you choose suitable cables for different scenarios.

Shielded Cable vs Unshielded Cable

The shielded cable is a twisted pair cable confined in foil or mesh shield that helps protect the data from high electromagnetic interference(EMI) or radio-frequency interference (RFI). The EMI/RFI is produced when cables are close to power cables, RF devices or some high-power machines. This will slower transmission speeds and create more data errors. Therefore, shielded Cat6 cable has faster transmission speed and fewer data errors, which is ideal for high-speed networks such as data centers.

Due to the twisting of the wire pairs, unshielded Cat6 cable helps reduce noise and crosstalk, and can offer some resistance to EMI/RFI but less effective than the shielded cable. The unshielded Cat6 cable is less expensive than shielded cable, and easier to install since no shielding and the drain wire involved. It is the most common type used in desktop communications applications.

Shielded cable and unshielded cable

Figure 2: Shielded cable and unshielded cable

Solid Cable vs Stranded Cable

Solid cable uses a single piece of copper for the electrical conductor that is designed for backbone and horizontal cable runs. Due to the large core, solid cable is durable but not so flexible that it shouldn’t be bent or twisted repeatedly. And with the better attenuation, solid cable is able to support longer distance transmission and higher data rates.

Stranded cable uses a series of copper cables twisted together. It is more flexible than solid cable, but has high attenuation. So the stranded cable is used for short distance transmission between wall plates and interface cards, hubs, and other rack-mounted equipment. Moreover, compared to solid cable, stranded cable has more expensive production costs.

Solid cable and stranded cable

Figure 3: Solid cable and stranded cable

Riser Cable vs Plenum Cable

Riser cable or CMR cable is referred to as “riser-rated cable” and designed to prevent fires from spreading between floors through risers or vertical shafts. Therefore, the riser cable is appropriate for in-wall installation of Ethernet cables, and the installation inside a residence or a single-story commercial building.

Plenum cable or CMP cable is referred to as “plenum-rated cable”. Its jacket is made from material that retards the spread of flames, and does not give off much smoke or toxic gas when burned. Hence, plenum cable is suitable for installation into air plenum spaces such as drop ceilings and raised floors.

Length And Color

The cable length and color also need to be considered when choosing Cat6 cables for your network. Cat6 patch cables can come in short lengths such as 0.15m, or longer lengths such as 61m. Moreover, custom lengths are available. The cable length you need mainly depends on two aspects. One is the distance between your network devices, and the other is the extra length for future capacity expansion. In terms of the color, various colors are available such as red, blue, gray, white, etc. Among them, blue may be the most common one. Different colors can distinguish different applications, but the ultimate decision is based on your preference.

Summary

Cat6 patch cable, as an advanced Ethernet cable, is widely applied in cabling system now. Choosing the right Cat6 cable matters a lot to your network deployment. So all factors mentioned above, including shielding type, conductor type, flame retardant class, length, and color need to be weighed up. FS provides a variety of high-quality and cost-effective patch cables, which have 100% passed the Fluke Test. If you have any needs, welcome to visit FS.COM.

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Fiber Network Interface Card Buying Factors and Recommendation

As technology develops, higher speed network like 10G or 40G for delivering or downloading data is required everywhere, whether for home use, enterprise applications or cloud computing environments. Fiber network interface card (NIC) plays a vital role in data transmission speed since it is responsible for transmitting signals between the clients (a server or computer) and the internet via cables like LC/SC patch cables, RJ45 cables, etc. Therefore, choosing a suitable network adapter for your network server or PC is very important. But do you know how? Here provides some buying guides and recommends several popular network adapters.

Factors Should Be Considered Before Purchasing

If you are looking for the best suitable fiber network interface card for your network server, some factors are important to be considered.

fiber network interface card

Speed and Bandwidth

Make sure that you know the NIC card speed because you are supposed to choose an appropriate card for your network. For example, if your ISP only offers you 1G network speed, you can’t expect to reach 10G speed even using a 10G network adapter in your PC. Thus, the NIC card with certain transmission rate should be linked to the network with the exact same transmission rate. Today, for the most part, any decent network cards can operate at least one Gigabit of data throughout, which may serve all home networks. However, if you work for data centers, 10G/40/100G network cards may satisfy your high-performance computing or virtual machines operations.

Compatibility

A suitable adapter must be compatible with the existing bus interface, operating system and cable connector. Check the bus interface first, make sense whether it’s PCI, PCI-X or PCIe (more information of PCIe network adapter types, you can read here), and choose the matched one. Then check if the fiber network interface card supports your operating system, like Windows or Linux. The supporting OS will be listed on the product Internet page or instruction book of the adapter product. Figure this out before buying, otherwise, the adapter you have bought will be failed to work. Plus, you also need to focus on the connector compatibility. LC/SC connector or SFP+/QSFP+ ports are the common connector types of fiber NIC cards, and you should pick one according to the fiber patch cables or optical modules that used for connecting your server or PC to the internet. For instance, if your working cable is an LC to LC fiber patch cable, you should choose the network adapter with LC port.

Functions

It’s necessary to make sure that the functions of NIC card can satisfy your applications. For example, if you just want it to offer access for the internet, all the NIC cards can do that. But if you need it to support advanced features like FCoE (Fiber Channel over Ethernet), iSCSI or PCI-SIG implementation, you need to check the instruction book to see whether it supports the function that you require.

Brand and Price

NIC card price is always a factor that should not be ignored. The cards from different brands are priced diversely. A 10G dual port PCIe 2.0 x8 adapter from HPE will cost about 250 dollars, while FS offers a more favorable price, 150 dollars for the same product. And FS provides one-year warranty for its fiber network interface card series, which would be a plus point. Therefore, consider your budget before making the final decision.

Fiber Network Interface Card Recommendation

A most trustworthy seller will offer you the good quality along with the favorable price available on the market. FS is definitely a good choice to buy network adapters. It offers a wide range of fiber network interface card, including 10/25/40G PCIe adapters offering a versatile network solution for home and business users alike. The following table lists the specifications of PCIe adapters from FS.

table

All those network adapters adopt high-performance Intel® chips, and the controller chips help ease the pressure of the CPU data processing. This truly supports the efficient transmission. The adapters support VLAN, QoS policy, load balancing, flow control, and a wide range of operating systems like Linux RHEL4/RHEL5/SLES9/SLES10, windows server, etc. They are available in 10/25/40G transmission speed, which can address the demanding needs of the next-generation data center for virtualization and scalability. And to ensure the compatibility of the adapter connections, FS also provides the compatible transceivers and fiber cables for the network adapters.

Conclusion

Before buying a fiber network interface card, it’s better to consider the transmission speed, compatibility, brand and price factors. This may help you quickly figure out the best network adapter. For purchasing high-quality NIC cards with favorable price, please visit FS.COM. It’s a one-stop choice for your network card’s demands, and 24/7 customer service and technology support are also available here.

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Passive CWDM vs Active CWDM

Coarse Wavelength Division Multiplexing (CWDM) is an optical multiplexing technology used for increasing the bandwidth of fiber. It works by combining optical signals of different wavelengths on one strand of fiber. Usually, CWDM is able to transport up to 18 wavelengths with a channel spacing of 20 nm in the spectrum grid from 1270 nm to 1610 nm. It is typically deployed in point-to-point topology in enterprise networks and telecom access networks. CWDM can be divided into passive CWDM and active CWDM. This article will detail these two CWDM solutions.

passive CWDM vs active CWDM

Figure 1:CWDM system

What Is Passive CWDM?

The passive CWDM is an implementation of CWDM that uses no electrical power. It separates the wavelengths using passive optical components such as bandpass filters and prisms. CWDM Mux/Demux is the most commonly used device in the passive CWDM system. It can be applied in many fields, including Gigabit Ethernet, SDH, ATM, servers, SAN, and TDM. Actually, most CWDM devices are passive and more and more manufacturers are promoting passive CWDM to deploy fiber to the home now.

What Is Active CWDM?

The active CWDM network is built from transponders and muxponders. It utilizes a dedicated transport platform that offers many functions such as signal monitoring, regeneration, and demarcation. Active CWDM solution is able to connect fast Ethernet switches, ATM switches, gigabit routers and others. It is usually applied for the communications operators and large customers to optimize or reform the network. And now it is also an ideal choice for the growing metropolitan area network.

Passive CWDM vs Active CWDM

Both passive CWDM and active CWDM have their own pros and cons.

Pros and Cons of Passive CWDM

Passive CWDM is popular mainly for the following reasons:

Easy installation – Passive CWDM installation is very simple. It is plug and play.

Independence – Passive CWDM is full independence from transmission speed and transmission protocols such as 1GbE or 1G FC.

Even though passive CWDM has the two main benefits, it still has the drawback.

Uneasy management – Due to the development of network, passive backbone networks grow as well that CWDM optics may disperse in several different layer-2 switches, routers and ADMs at different physical locations or departments of organization. This results in difficult maintenance and management.

Expensive – The requirement of passive CWDM solution that uses venspecific optics such as optical module is often very expensive.

Lots of limitations – Passive CWDM is only effective in point-to-point topology. It also has limited link power budget and distance. Moreover, passive CWDM has limited optical performance monitoring and fault isolation, which will increase MTTR.

Pros and Cons of Active CWDM

There are several advantages of active CWDM:

Cost savings – Active CWDM uses standard inexpensive cost optics and low vendor specific colored optics. What’s more, it uses muxponder capabilities (mapping multiple services over a single wavelength), which enables better spectral efficiency of the backbone network infrastructure. This significantly reduces the cost. In addition, active CWDM infrastructure enables organizations to provide managed services with SLA to its partners and customers and to generate revenue from its network infrastructure. This helps active CWDM organizations reduce operational costs.

Easier management – Due to fewer wavelengths are used between the backbone sites, active CWDM is easy for network management.

More flexibility – Unlike the passive CWDM, active CWDM is not limited by the network topology and distances between the sites. Besides, active CWDM allows for flexible add or drop capabilities as well as traffic regeneration at different points across the backbone infrastructure.

Despite these advantages, the active CWDM has a challenge:

Complex configuration – There are many more components in active builds. For instance, active CWDM usually needs transponders, which can help reach longer distance.

Summary

After the comparison of passive CWDM vs active CWDM, we can see that each one has its advantages and disadvantages. Which to deploy depends on the actual needs. Hope what we discussed in the article could help make an informed decision. If you want to know more details, welcome to visit FS.COM.

Related Article: CWDM – Cost-Effective Alternative to Expand Network Capacity

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WDM-PON Network: An Efficient Solution for 5G Deployment

Driven by the rapid development of mobile communication industry, 5G network has boomed. However, 5G also faces some challenges such as the higher transmission bandwidth requirement. How to solve these problems? The WDM-PON network may be a better solution. This post will explain the advantages of WDM-PON technology and how it helps the 5G deployment.

Overview of WDM-PON Network & 5G

As it’s known to all, WDM-PON (Wavelength Division Multiplexing-Passive Optical Network) combines WDM technology with PON topology structure that allows operators to deliver high bandwidth to multiple endpoints over long distances. It includes some technologies, including colorless ONU technology, Auxiliary Management and Control Channel (AMCC), optical modules, OAM, and protection switching. With these key technologies, WDM-PON is regarded as an ideal solution which can meet the 5G requirements and has attracted great attention nowadays.

5G stands for the fifth generation of the wireless mobile network. It will be built on the foundation created by 4G LTE to allow people to send texts, make calls, and browse the web, etc. These upgraded 5G performance targets contain higher data rate, energy saving, higher-quality and massive device connectivity.

5G network

Figure 1: 5G network

Why Choose WDM-PON for 5G Deployment?

As mentioned above, WDM-PON owns some useful technologies, which have unique advantages in 5G applications, including high bandwidth, low latency, low costs, fiber savings, easy maintenance, etc. The following will focus on introducing some of its merits.

High Bandwidth

The WDM-PON technology allows for traffic separation within the same physical fiber by different wavelengths. This results in a network that provides logical point-to-point connections over physical point-to-multipoint network topology. Moreover, AMCC signal modulation helps stack a management channel onto each wavelength. Therefore, the solution for carrying 5G front-haul over WDM-PON can offer a dedicated wavelength and extensive bandwidth resources to each user, saves time and increases transmission efficiency.

Low Latency

Having AMCC technology to deploy 5G, there is no need to use frame processing or dynamic bandwidth allocation (DBA) scheduling. This architecture provides low latency, low-frequency jitter, and flexible configuration of different front-haul interfaces.

Low Costs

With PON topology, it reduces the number of fiber needed by 5G front-haul networks with high site densities. The existing fiber infrastructure and equipment room are utilized, which saves the deployment and maintenance costs. What’s more, WDM-PON carries out an integrated front-haul/middle-haul (XHaul) transport network with the OLT. This OLT platform and the DU pool can be deployed in the same equipment room, which reduces the equipment construction costs. In addition, using the colorless technology of ONU in WDM-PON system results in low costs.

WDM-PON Network for 5G Deployment

Unlike the 4G which has the BBU and RRU two-level architectures, the 5G is constructed as three entities: CU (Centralized Unit), DU (Distribute Unit) and AAU (Active Antenna Unit). And 5G has three application scenario, including front-haul, middle-haul, and back-haul transmission. In the 5G Front-haul network, WDM-PON can be an efficient solution.

The following figure 1 shows the architecture of WDM-PON 5G front-haul network. Several RRUs and a DU are connected through a WDM-PON point-to-multipoint topology. The WDM-PON OLT is connected to the DU, CU, and ONU. ONU is also connected to RRUs. This OLT platform carries the front-haul traffic between the DU and RRUs as well as the middle-haul traffic between the DU and CU. In terms of the front-haul transmission or the connection between RRUs and DU, WDM-PON transmission interfaces play a significant role that enables the transparent user data transmission between them. In addition, the solution of applying WDM-PON to carry 5G is especially suitable for those operators who have to provide both wireless and wireline services in a greenfield scenario.

WDM-PON network

Figure 2: WDM-PON 5G front-haul network

Summary

As boasting these advantages such as high capacity, low latency, cost-saving, etc., WDM-PON network is considered as an important solution for 5G. And the use of WDM-PON technology would become very common. To pave the way for the upcoming 5G network, FS is striving to be the innovator in 5G communication. In fact, FS has developed optical transceiver modules for WDM-PON network such as DWDM SFP+. If you have any needs, welcome to visit FS.COM.

Related Article: 5G Deployment Ushers In New Opportunities for 25G Optics Market

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Is 400G Ethernet Still Far in the Future?

The rapid expanding of data centers spurs the demand for higher speeds, greater scalability, and higher levels of performance over the network, and the demand is not gonna slack. Thus the Ethernet speed upgrade has become a hot topic. The past decades have witnessed the Ethernet speed transitions from 1G,10/25G to 40/100G. And the Ethernet industry continues to innovate to higher networking speeds like 200G and 400G. Well, is 400G Ethernet far in the future? The answer is “no”. This article will share some information about 400G Ethernet.

Overview of 400G Ethernet

400G Ethernet, or 400 Gigabit Ethernet (400GbE), is developed by IEEE P802.3bs Task Force in 2017. It uses broadly similar technology to 100 Gigabit Ethernet. However, 400G is not only four times as fast as 100GbE, but also provides a better economy of scale and a denser configuration. In addition, the new 400G products usually adopt 8 x 50G serial links, which are based on the latest PAM-4 module technology.

An Analysis on the 400G Market

Currently, 100G is the fastest Ethernet connections in broad adoption, which is growing steadily. However, with the continued boom in traffic, and the demand by video and other high-capacity data transfers, 400G Ethernet is an inevitable trend in data centers.

400G Ethernet

Figure 1: 400G Ethernet is an Inevitable roadmap for data centers

In terms of 400G transceiver module market, its driving forces relate primarily to the implementation of networks within the mega data centers and the interconnects between the data centers. It was reported that there were over 10 companies have demonstrated the 400G transceivers in OFC 2018. And these companies have planned to deploy 400G transceivers in data centers and Telecom in the end of this year. In addition, according to GLOBE NEWSWIRE, the global 400G transceiver market is expected to be at $22.6 billion in 2023.

In fact, some optical components for 400G Ethernet solutions have already been put into use such as 400G transceiver module, 400G Ethernet switch. What’s more, more and more vendors today join in the 400G Ethernet race, including Cisco, Juniper, Arista, Huawei, etc.

When it comes to 400G switches, Cisco is the leader in this field. It started shipping its new 400G switches in the end of 2018. Arista, Juniper, and other vendors come on the heels of Cisco. The race will be fiercer this year.

Except for 400G optical transceivers and 400G switches, other 400G components like 400G WDM, 400G AOC/DOC cables, etc. are on the way.

What’s New in Today’s 400G Optics Market?

Though 400G optics are not the mainstream in the market, there are more and more new 400G devices. The following will introduce some 400G optical transceivers and 400G switches in the market.

400G transceivers

We know that the QSFP28 modules are for 100G Ethernet and SFP28 modules are for 25G Ethernet. Well, there are some transceiver modules for 400G Ethernet, including CFP8, QSFP-DD, OSFP, and COBO. The following are some popular 400G transceivers in the market.

400G CFP8 is the first-generation optical transceiver for 400G Ethernet applications. It usually allows for 16 x 25 Gb/s and 8 x 50 Gb/s mode, featuring a transmission length up to 10km.

QSFP-DD (Double Density QSFP) uses eight 25G lanes via NRZ modulation or eight 50G lanes via PAM4 modulation. What’s more, 400G QSFP-DD is able to backward compatible with QSFP modules that offers flexibility for end users and system designers.

OSFP means Octal Small Form Factor Pluggable. It has eight 50G lanes to support 400G like QSFP-DD but slightly wider and deeper than the QSFP module.

Unlike the above mentioned 400G transceivers, COBO (Consortium for On-Board Optics) is installed internally to the line-card equipment in a controlled environment. It is short of flexibility, but offers better power efficiency and higher port density. Therefore, COBO is regarded as the next-generation transceiver for 800G or beyond.

400G Ethernet Switches

Nowadays, some 400G switches have already been put into use. For instance, 400G Nexus from Cisco, 7060X4 Series from Arista, Spectrum-2 from Mellanox, etc.

Cisco 400G switches contain 16-port Nexus 9316D-GX, 8-port Nexus 93600CD-GX, 4 RU Nexus 3408-S, and 32-port Nexus 3432D-S. These four Ethernet switches come with high-speed, high-performance, automation, visibility, assurance, and security functions to meet different architectural needs. In addition, Arista 7060X4 Series and Mellanox Spectrum-2 are also optimized for 400G Ethernet with developed features.

Summary

With the development of the network, 400G Ethernet will finally be the next major Ethernet speed for data centers, though there are still some challenges to overcome now, such as low power consumption and lower cost per bit. FS always keeps up with technology trends and provides reliable and cost-effective solutions. Now FS is planning to launch 400G Ethernet devices like 400G transceiver module. For more information, please visit www.fs.com.

Related Articles:
Global Optical Transceiver Market: Striding to 200G and 400G
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