North Carolina’s Research Triangle is renowned for solving mysteries, especially technical ones. That’s what occurs when three tier-one research universities – North Carolina State University (NCSU), Duke, and the University of N . C . (UNC) at Chapel Hill – and cutting-edge tech companies for example FTTH cable production line are within the triangle.
I ran across SEL while researching IEEE’s 802.3ba 40Gb/s and 100Gb/s Ethernet fiber-optic standard. Why was I putting myself through that? Well, before too long every commercial data center on the planet could have portions of its fiber-optic network migrated to 40Gb/s or 100Gb/s to be competitive business-wise. Choosing the paper The Optical Fiber Ribbon Solution for the 10G to 40/100G Migration (PDF) written by SEL’s Bill Charuk, product manager, data center solutions, was especially fortuitous, since it answered several perplexing questions.
Ribbon-style cabling is important because OM3 and OM4 – the only multi-mode fibers included in the 802.3ba standard – use parallel-optic transmission. In accordance with an article around the Cabling Installation & Maintenance site this means by design optical/electronic interfaces allow data to be transmitted and received over multiple fibers. Furthermore, it means 40G Ethernet interfaces comprise of four 10G channels on four fibers per direction, and 100G Ethernet interfaces use four 25G channels on Optical fiber coloring machine per direction as shown in the diagram below.
Bottom line: parallel runs are used to increase throughput bandwidth using either multiple fiber-optic cables or multiple fibers in the ribbon cable. To begin working with a ribbon cable over individual cables Charuk writes, “The application of ribbons provide for easier connectorization (less opportunity to cross fibers inside an MPO connector), dexkpky80 perhaps furthermore, achieve easier polarization continuity whatever the polarity method selected for that system.”
“Ribbon cables are already used in the telecom industry in excess of 2 decades,” writes Charuk. “These were unveiled in improve the fiber density in a given cable as well as to reduce cable costs. Of particular importance is fiber density, as fiber counts increase in the data center, it is really an attractive feature.”
Fiber-optic ribbon cables appear to be a logical choice. “The general mix of ruggedness from the ribbon design, fiber density, size, and relative cost points to ribbon for being best suited to both new and retrofit installations within the data center,” concludes Charuk. “Additionally, the ribbons in optical fiber ribbon machine work best suited for future expansion, since the transmission protocols progress to higher and higher data rates.”