Black Box Explains...Insertion loss.
Insertion loss is a power loss that results from inserting a component into a previously continuous path or creating a splice in it. It is measured by the amount of... more/see it nowpower received before and after the insertion.
In copper cable, insertion loss measures electrical power lost from the beginning of the run to the end.
In fiber cable, insertion loss (also called optical loss) measures the amount of light lost from beginning to end. Light can be lost many ways: absorption, diffusion, scattering, dispersion, and more. It can also be from poor connections and splices in which the fibers dont align properly.
Light loss is measured in decibels (dBs), which indicate relative power. A loss of 10 dB means a tenfold reduction in power.
Light strength can be measured with optical power meters, optical loss test sets, and other test sets that send a known light source through the fiber and measure its strength on the other end. collapse
Black Box Explains...10-GbE, CAT6A, and ANEXT.
The IEEE released the 802.3an 10GBASE-T standard in June 2006. This standard specifies 10-Gbps data transmission
over four-pair copper cabling. 10-Gigabit Ethernet (10-GbE) transmission includes up to 37 meters of... more/see it nowCAT6 cable (with installation mitigation techniques), 100 meters of Augmented Category 6 (CAT6A) UTP or F/UTP cable or 100 meters
of S/FTP CAT7/Class F cable.
CAT6A is the ANSI/TIA 10-Gigabit Ethernet (10-GbE) over copper standard. Its requirements are covered in ANSI/TIA-568-C.2 (Balanced Twisted-Pair Communications Cabling and Components Standard) published in August 2009. It defines 10-Gigabit data transmission over a 4-connector twisted-pair CAT6A copper cable for a distance of 100 meters.
Category 6A cabling is designed to support next-generation applications, including the transfer of large amounts of data at high speeds, up to 10 Gbps. CAT6A extends electrical specifications to 500 MHz from 250 MHz for CAT6 cabling. CAT6A cables are fully backward compatible with previous categories, including CAT6 and 5e. Category 6A is also designed to support bundled cable installations up to 100 meters and PoE+ low-power implementations. The standard includes the performance parameter, Alien Crosstalk (ANEXT). Because of its higher performance transmission speeds and higher MHz rating, CAT6A cable needs to be tested for external noise outside the cable, which wasn’t a concern with previous cabling categories. CAT6A UTP also has a much larger diameter than previous cables.
Alien crosstalk (ANEXT) is a critical and unique measurement in 10-GbE systems. Crosstalk, measured in 10/100/1000BASE-T systems, is the mixing of signals between wire pairs within a cable. Alien Crosstalk, in 10-GbE systems, is the measurement of the unwanted signal coupling between wire pairs in different and adjacent cables or from one balanced twisted-pair component, channel, or permanent link to another.
The amount of ANEXT depends on a number of factors, including the type of cable, cable jacket, cable length, cable twist density, proximity of adjacent cables, and connectors, and EMI. Patch panels and connecting hardware are also affected by ANEXT.
With Alien Crosstalk, the affected cable is called the victim cable. The surrounding cables are the disturber cables.
There are a number of ways to mitigate the effects of ANEXT in CAT6A runs. According to the standards, ANEXT can be improved by laying CAT6A UTP cable loosely in pathways and raceways with space between the cables. This contrasts to the tightly bundled runs of CAT6/5e cable that we are used to. The tight bundles present a worst-case scenario of six cables around one, thus the center cable would be adversely affected by ANEXT. CAT6A UTP cable needs to be tested for ANEXT. This is a complex and time-consuming process in which all possible wire-pair combinations need to be tested for ANEXT and far-end ANEXT. It can take 50 minutes to test one link in a bundle of 24 CAT 6A UTP cables.
To virtually eliminate the problem of ANEXT, you can use CAT6A F/UTP cable. The F indicates an outer foil shield encasing four unshielded twisted pairs. This cable is also a good choice when security is an issue because it doesn’t emit signals. In addition, CAT6A F/UTP cable works well in noisy environments with a lot of EMI/RFI.
Installation of CAT6A F/UTP is simpler, too, because the cable features a smaller outside diameter than CAT6A UTP. Its construction makes it easier to pull and more resilient. The cable also has a smaller diameter so you can run more cables in a conduit or pathway, and have greater patch panel port density.
For more information, see the CAT6A F/UTP vs. UTP: What You Need to Know white paper in the Resources section at blackbox.com.
Fiber optic cable construction and types.
Multimode vs. single-mode
Multimode cable has a large-diameter core and multiple pathways of light. It is most commonly available in two core sizes: 50-micron and 62.5-micron.
Multimode fiber optic cable can... more/see it nowbe used for most general data and voice fiber applications such as adding segments to an existing network, and in smaller applications such as alarm systems and bringing fiber to the desktop. Both multimode cable cores use either LED or laser light sources.
Multimode 50-micron cable is recommended for premise applications?(backbone, horizontal, and intrabuilding connections). It should be considered for any new construction and for installations because it provides longer link lengths and/or higher speeds, particularly in the 850-nm wavelength, than 62.5-micron cable does.
Multimode cable commonly has an orange or aqua jacket; single-mode has yellow. Other colors are available for various applications and for identification purposes.
Single-mode cable has a small (8–10-micron) glass core and only one pathway of light. With only a single wavelength of light passing through its core, single-mode cable realigns the light toward the center of the core instead of simply bouncing it off the edge of the core as multimode does.
Single-mode cable provides 50 times more distance than multimode cable does. Consequently, single-mode cable is typically used in high-bandwidth applications and in long-haul network connections spread out over extended areas, including cable television and campus backbone applications. Telcos use it for connections between switching offices. Single-mode cable also provides higher bandwidth, so you can use a pair of single-mode fiber strands full-duplex at more than twice the throughput of multimode fiber.
Fiber optic cable consists of a core, cladding, coating, buffer strengthening fibers, and cable jacket.
The core is the physical medium that transports optical data signals from an attached light source to a receiving device. It is a single continuous strand of glass or plastic that’s measured (in microns) by the size of its outer diameter.
All fiber optic cable is sized according to its core’s outer diameter. The two multimode sizes most commonly available are 50 and 62.5 microns. Single-mode cores are generally less than 9 microns.
The cladding is a thin layer that surrounds the fiber core and serves as a boundary that contains the light waves and causes the refraction, enabling data to travel throughout the length of the fiber segment.
The coating is a layer of plastic that surrounds the core and cladding to reinforce the fiber core, help absorb shocks, and provide extra protection against excessive cable bends. These coatings are measured in microns (µ); the coating is 250µ and the buffer is 900µ.
Strengthening fibers help protect the core against crushing forces and excessive tension during installation. This material is generally Kevlar® yarn strands within the cable jacket.
The cable jacket is the outer layer of any cable. Most fiber optic cables have an orange jacket, although some types can have black, yellow, aqua or other color jackets. Various colors can be used to designate different applications within a network.
Simplex vs. duplex patch cables
Multimode and single-mode patch cables can be simplex or duplex.
Simplex has one fiber, while duplex zipcord has two fibers joined with a thin web. Simplex (also known as single strand) and duplex zipcord cables are tight-buffered and jacketed, with Kevlar strength members.
Because simplex fiber optic cable consists of only one fiber link, you should use it for applications that only require one-way data transfer. For instance, an interstate trucking scale that sends the weight of the truck to a monitoring station or an oil line monitor that sends data about oil flow to a central location.
Use duplex multimode or single-mode fiber optic cable for applications that require simultaneous, bidirectional data transfer. Workstations, fiber switches and servers, Ethernet switches, backbone ports, and similar hardware require duplex cable.
PVC (riser) vs. plenum-rated
PVC cable (also called riser-rated cable even though not all PVC cable is riser-rated) features an outer polyvinyl chloride jacket that gives off toxic fumes when it burns. It can be used for horizontal and vertical runs, but only if the building features a contained ventilation system. Plenum can replace PVC, but PVC cannot be used in plenum spaces.
“Riser-rated” means that the jacket is fire-resistant. However, it can still give off noxious fumes when overheated. The cable carries an OFNR rating and is not for use in plenums.
Plenum-jacketed cables have FEP, such as Teflon®, which emits less toxic fumes when it burns. A plenum is a space within the building designed for the movement of environmental air. In most office buildings, the space above the ceiling is used for the HVAC air return. If cable goes through that space, it must be “plenum-rated.”
Distribution-style vs. breakout-style
Distribution-style cables have several tight-buffered fibers bundled under the same jacket with Kevlar or fiberglass rod reinforcement. These cables are small in size and are typically used within a building for short, dry conduit runs, in either riser or plenum applications. The fibers can be directly terminated, but because the fibers are not individually reinforced, these cables need to be terminated inside a patch panel, junction box, fiber enclosure, or cabinet.
Breakout-style cables are made of several simplex cables bundled together, making a strong design that is larger than distribution cables. Breakout cables are suitable for riser and plenum applications.
Loose-tube vs. tight-buffered
Both loose-tube and tight-buffered cables contain some type of strengthening member, such as aramid yarn, stainless steel wire strands, or even gel-filled sleeves. But each is designed for very different environments.
Loose-tube cable is specifically designed for harsh outdoor environments. It protects the fiber core, cladding, and coating by enclosing everything within semi-rigid protective sleeves or tubes. Many loose-tube cables also have a water-resistant gel that surrounds the fibers. This gel helps protect them from moisture, so the cables are great for harsh, high-humidity environments where water or condensation can be a problem. The gel-filled tubes can also expand and contract with temperature changes. Gel-filled loose-tube cable is not the best choice for indoor applications.
Tight-buffered cable, in contrast, is optimized for indoor applications. Because it’s sturdier than loose-tube cable, it’s best suited for moderate-length LAN/WAN connections, or long indoor runs. It’s easier to install as well, because there’s no messy gel to clean up and it doesn’t require a fan-out kit for splicing or termination.
Indoor/outdoor cable uses dry-block technology to seal ruptures against moisture seepage and gel-filled buffer tubes to halt moisture migration. Comprised of a ripcord, core binder, a flame-retardant layer, overcoat, aramid yarn, and an outer jacket, it is designed for aerial, duct, tray, and riser applications.
Interlocking armored cable
This fiber cable is jacketed in aluminum interlocking armor so it can be run just about anywhere in a building. Ideal for harsh environments, it is rugged and rodent resistant. No conduit is needed, so it’s a labor- and money-saving alternative to using innerducts for fiber cable runs.
Outside-plant cable is used in direct burials. It delivers optimum performance in extreme conditions and is terminated within 50 feet of a building entrance. It blocks water and is rodent-resistant.
Interlocking armored cable is lightweight and flexible but also extraordinarily strong. It is ideal for out-of-the-way premise links.
Laser-optimized 10-Gigabit cable
Laser-optimized multimode fiber cable assemblies differ from standard multimode cable assemblies because they have graded refractive index profile fiber optic cable in each assembly. This means that the refractive index of the core glass decreases toward the outer cladding, so the paths of light towards the outer edge of the fiber travel quicker than the other paths. This increase in speed equalizes the travel time for both short and long light paths, ensuring accurate information transmission and receipt over much greater distances, up to 300 meters at 10 Gbps.
Laser-optimized multimode fiber cable is ideal for premise networking applications that include long distances. It is usually aqua colored.
Black Box Explains... Fibre Channel Technology.
What is Fibre Channel?
Fibre Channel is a set of communication standards designed to provide high-speed data transfer over a duplex, serial interface. Its an open standard that supports multiple protocols... more/see it nowincluding higher-level protocols, such as FDDI, SCSI, HIPPI, and IPI, to manage data transfer.
Although it operates at a range of 133 Mbps to 4 Gbps, Fibre Channel is most commonly used at speeds of 1 or 2 Gbps. A working standards group recently announced that 10-Gbps speeds are expected in soon.
Why is it called Fibre Channel?
Originally, Fibre Channel was designed to support only fiber. When copper was added, the International Standards Organization (ISO) task force changed the spelling of fiber to fibre instead of renaming the technology.
Fibre Channel history.
Fibre Channel was first developed in 1988, and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) formed a committee in 1989. To ensure interoperability, IBM®, Hewlett-Packard®, and Sun Microsystems® formed the FCSI (Fibre Channel Systems Initiative), a temporary organization, in 1992. FCSI later dissolved, and development was handed over to the FCA (Fibre Channel Association) in 1994. ANSI accepted Fibre Channel as a standard in 1994.
The best of both worlds.
This hardware-based standard combines the best of both channel and network communication methods into one I/O interface. It takes advantage of hardware-intensive, quicker point-to-point channel links that offer low overhead, such as SCSI bus technology, as well as the broad connectivity and long-distance benefits of software-intensive network technology.
Where Fibre Channel is used.
Fibre Channel is used to transfer large amounts of data quickly between supercomputers, mainframes, workstations, desktop computers, storage devices, displays, and other peripherals.
Fibre Channel offers reliability, scalability, congestion-free data flow, Gigabit bandwidth, compatibility with multiple topologies and protocols, flow control, self management, hot pluggability, speed, cost efficiency, loop resiliency, and distance. This makes it ideal for large data operations such as Internet/intranets, data warehousing, networked storage, integrated audio/video, real-time computing, on-line services, and imaging.
The most popular application for this technology right now is Storage Area Networks (SANs). Independent methods of centralized storage management within a SAN (e.g., RAID, tape backup or library, CD-ROM library) run more efficiently with a Fibre Channel backbone.
Fibre Channel topologies.
Fibre Channel can be connected by three methods. In all cases, the topology of the network is transparent to the attached devices.
Point to point is the simplest topology, which uses simple bidirectional links between two connected devices.
Arbitrated loop is the most common topology and the most complex. It is distributed, connecting up to 126 devices across shared media, and it offers shared bandwidth. Two ports on the loop establish a point-to-point, full-duplex connection through arbitration among all ports.
The cross-point or fabric-switched topology uses 24-bit addressing to connect up to 2 (to the 24th) devices in a cross-point switched configuration. This enables many devices to communicate at the same time and does not require shared media.
Fibre Channel layers.
Fibre Channel protocol is divided into five hierarchical layers: The three bottom layers, FC-0FC-2, define the physical transmission standard. Layers FC-3 and FC-4 address interfaces with other network protocols.
FC-0: Media and interface layer that defines the physical link.
FC-1: Transmission encode/decode layer. Information is encoded 8 bits at a time into a 10-bit transmission character (8B/10B from IBM).
FC-2: Signaling protocol layer that serves as the transport mechanism performing basic signaling and framing. FC-2 includes the following classes of service:
• Class 1 provides dedicated connections. Intermix is an optional type of Class 1 service in which Class 1 frames are guaranteed a special amount of bandwidth.
• Class 2 is a frame-switched, connectionless service, also known as multiplex. It guarantees delivery and confirms receipt of traffic.
• Class 3 is a one-to-many, connectionless, frame-switched service. Its similar to Class 2 except it uses buffer-to-buffer flow control and does not confirm frame delivery.
FC-3: Common-services layer that provides common services required for advanced features such as striping, hunt groups, and multicast.
FC-4: Upper layer for protocol mapping of network and channel data transmitting concurrently over the same physical interface.
Fibre Channel media.
Fibre Channel runs at up to 1 Gbps over copper or fiber, but for higher speeds, fiber is required. Copper-wire cable can be video coax, miniature coax, or, most commonly, shielded twisted pair with a DB9 or HSSDC connector. Fiber choices include 62.5- or 50-µm multimode and 7- or 9-µm single-mode fiber, all with an SC connector.
Other Fibre Channel equipment includes disk enclosures, drivers, extenders, hubs, interface converters, host bus adapters, routers, switches, and SCSI bridges. collapse
Black Box Explains...Gold plating.
Get premium-quality connectors from Black Box. The 24-karat gold plating ensures better signal transmission and no corrosion. The shielding and heavy gold conductors provide improved performance.
Black Box Explains...V.35, the Faster Serial Interface.
V.35 is the ITU (formerly CCITT) standard termed Data Transmission at 48 kbps Using 60108 KHz Group-Band Circuits.
Basically, V.35 is a high-speed serial interface designed to support both higher data... more/see it nowrates and connectivity between DTEs (data-terminal equipment) or DCEs (data-communication equipment) over digital lines.
Recognizable by its blocky, 34-pin connector, V.35 combines the bandwidth of several telephone circuits to provide the high-speed interface between a DTE or DCE and a CSU/DSU (Channel Service Unit/Data Service Unit).
Although its commonly used to support speeds ranging anywhere from 48 to 64 kbps, much higher rates are possible. For instance, maximum V.35 cable distances can theoretically range up to 4000 feet (1200 m) at speeds up to 100 kbps. Actual distances will depend on your equipment and cable.
To achieve such high speeds and great distances, V.35 combines both balanced and unbalanced voltage signals on the same interface. collapse
Black Box Explains...Type 1 vs. Type 6 Cable
Type 1 Cable is made of solid wire, typically 22 AWG bare copper. It has braided shielding around each pair. It’s recommended for long runs in walls, conduits, etc.
Type 6... more/see it nowCable is typically made of 26 AWG stranded copper and has one shield around both pairs. Its lighter and more flexible than Type 1 Cable and has a better “look.” It’s recommended for use in office environments. collapse
Black Box Explains...Breakout-style cables.
With breakout- or fanout-style cables, the fibers are packaged individually. A breakout cable is basically several simplex cables bundled together in one jacket. Breakout cables are suitable for riser and... more/see it nowplenum applications, and conduit runs.
This differs from distribution-style cables where several tight-buffered fibers are bundled under the same jacket.
This design of the breakout cable adds strength to the cable, although that makes it larger and more expensive than distribution-style cables.
Because each fiber is individually reinforced, you can divide the cable into individual fiber lines. This enables quick connector termination, and eliminates the need for patch panels.
Breakout cable can also be more economical because it requires much less labor to terminate.
You may want to choose a cable that has more fibers than you actually need in case of breakage during termination or for future expansion. collapse
Black Box Explains...Category wiring standards
The ABCs of standards
There are two primary organizations dedicated to developing and setting structured cabling standards. In North America, standards are issued by the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA),... more/see it nowwhich is accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). The TIA was formed in April 1988 after a merger with the Electronics Industry Association (EIA). That’s why its standards are commonly known as ANSI/TIA/EIA, TIA/EIA, or TIA.
Globally, the organizations that issue standards are the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). Standards are often listed as ISO/IEC. Other organizations include the Canadian Standards Association (CSA), CENELEC (European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardizations), and the Japanese Standards Association (JSA/JSI).
The committees of all these organizations work together and the performance requirements of the standards are very similar. But there is some confusion in terminology.
The TIA cabling components (cables, connecting hardware, and patch cords) are labeled with a ”category.” These components together form a permanent link or channel that is also called a ”category.” The ISO/IEC defines the link and channel requirements with a ”class” designation. But the components are called a ”category.”
Category 5 (CAT5) —ratified in 1991. It is no longer recognized for use in networking.
Category 5e (CAT5e) —ISO/IEC 11801 Class D, ratified in 1999, is designed to support full-duplex, 4-pair transmission in 100-MHz applications. The CAT5e standard introduced the measurement for PS-NEXT, EL-FEXT, and PS-ELFEXT. CAT5e is no longer recognized for new installations. It is commonly used for 1-GbE installations.
Category 6 (CAT6) – Class E has a specified frequency of 250 MHz, significantly improved bandwidth capacity over CAT5e, and easily handles Gigabit Ethernet transmissions. CAT6 supports 1000BASE-T and, depending on the installation, 10GBASE-T (10-GbE).
10-GbE over CAT6 introduces Alien Crosstalk (ANEXT), the unwanted coupling of signals between adjacent pairs and cables. Because ANEXT in CAT6 10-GbE networks is so dependent on installation practices, TIA TSB-155-A and ISO/IEC 24750 qualifies 10-GbE over CAT6 over channels of 121 to 180 feet (37 to 55 meters) and requires it to be 100% tested, which is extremely time consuming. To mitigate ANEXT in CAT6, it is recommended that the cables be unbundled, that the space between cables be increased, and that non-adjacent patch panel ports be used. If CAT6 F/UTP cable is used, mitigation is not necessary and the length limits do not apply. CAT6 is not recommended for new 10-GbE installations.
Augmented Category 6 (CAT6A) –Class Ea was ratified in February 2008. This standard calls for 10-Gigabit Ethernet data transmission over a 4-pair copper cabling system up to 100 meters. CAT6A extends CAT6 electrical specifications from 250 MHz to 500 MHz. It introduces the ANEXT requirement. It also replaces the term Equal Level Far-End Crosstalk (ELFEXT) with Attenuation to Crosstalk Ratio, Far-End (ACRF) to mesh with ISO terminology. CAT6A provides improved insertion loss over CAT6. It is a good choice for noisy environments with lots of EMI. CAT6A is also well-suited for use with PoE+.
CAT6A UTP cable is significantly larger than CAT6 cable. It features larger conductors, usually 22 AWG, and is designed with more space between the pairs to minimize ANEXT. The outside diameter of CAT6A cable averages 0.29"–0.35" compared to 0.21"–0.24" for CAT6 cable. This reduces the number of cables you can fit in a conduit. At a 40% fill ratio, you can run three CAT6A cables in a 3/4" conduit vs. five CAT6 cables.
CAT6A UTP vs. F/UTP. Although shielded cable has the reputation of being bigger, bulkier, and more difficult to handle and install than unshielded cable, this is not the case with CAT6A F/UTP cable. It is actually easier to handle, requires less space to maintain proper bend radius, and uses smaller conduits, cable trays, and pathways. CAT6A UTP has a larger outside diameter than CAT6A F/UTP cable. This creates a great difference in the fill rate of cabling pathways. An increase in the outside diameter of 0.1", from 0.25" to 0.35" for example, represents a 21% increase in fill volume. In general, CAT6A F/UTP provides a minimum of 35% more fill capacity than CAT6A UTP. In addition, innovations in connector technology have made terminating CAT6A F/UTP actually easier than terminating bulkier CAT6A UTP.
Category 7 (CAT7) –Class F was published in 2002 by the ISO/IEC. It is not a TIA recognized standard and TIA plans to skip over it.
Category 7 specifies minimum performance standards for fully shielded cable (individually shielded pairs surrounded by an overall shield) transmitting data at rates up to 600 MHz. It comes with one of two connector styles: the standard RJ plug and a non-RJ-style plug and socket interface specified in IEC 61076-2-104:2.
Category 7a (CAT7a) –Class Fa (Amendment 1 and 2 to ISO/IEC 11801, 2nd Ed.) is a fully shielded cable that extends frequency from 600 MHz to 1000 MHz.
Category 8 – The TIA decided to skip Category 7 and 7A and go to Category 8. The TR-42.7 subcommittee is establishing specs for a 40-Gbps twisted-pair solution with a 2-GHz frequency. The proposed standard is for use in a two-point channel in a data center at 30 meters. It is expected to be ratified in February 2016. The TR-42.7 subcommittee is also incorporating ISO/IEC Class II cabling performance criteria into the standard. It is expected to be called TIA-568-C.2-1. The difference between Class I and Class II is that Class II allows for three different styles of connectors that are not compatible with one another or with the RJ-45 connector. Class I uses an RJ-45 connector and is backward compatible with components up to Category 6A.
Black Box Explains... Digital Optic Cable
Many new, high-quality Mini Disc, pro-audio, DAT (Digital Audio Tape), CD, DVD, and laser disc players, as well as digital amplifiers, DSS satellite receivers, and computer sound cards, are manufactured... more/see it nowwith digital optical output connectors.
These connectors attach to optical cables, which are constructed with a PVC jacket and a plastic core. The cables transfer information accurately over short distances via digital light signals with low loss and no distortion.
Digital optical cable with plastic-core construction is less expensive than fiber optic cable with a glass core, but it still provides the benefits of optical transmission over short distances.
Digital audio makes it possible to use high-quality digital-to-analog converters, which help to maintain the integrity of sound signals from high-end electronic devices.
The two types of connectors associated with digital optical transmission are TOSLINK®, a Toshiba® trademark, and the 3.5-mm Mini Plug connector. collapse