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Black Box Explains... GBICs

A Gigabit Interface Converter (GBIC) is a transceiver that converts digital electrical currents to optical signals and back again. GBICs support speeds of 1 Gbps or more and are typically... more/see it nowused as an interface between a high-speed Ethernet or ATM switch and a fiber backbone. GBICs are hot-swappable, so switches don’t need to be powered down for their installation. collapse


USB 3.0

The newest USB standard, USB 3.0 or “SuperSpeed USB," provides vast improvements over USB 2.0. USB 3.0 promises speeds up to 5 Gbps, about ten times that of USB 2.0.... more/see it now

USB 3.0 uses a sync-n-go technology that minimizes user wait time. USB 3.0 adds a physical bus running in parallel with the existing 2.0 bus. It has the flat USB Type A plug, but inside there is an extra set of connectors, and the edge of the plug is blue instead of white. The Type B plug looks different with an extra set of connectors.

USB 3.0 cable contains nine wires, four more than USB 2.0, which has one pair for data and one pair for power. USB 3.0 adds two more data pairs, for a total of eight plus a ground. These extra pairs enable USB 3.0 to support bidirectional asynchronous, full-duplex data transfer instead of USB 2.0’s half-duplex polling method.

USB 3.0 is much more power efficient than USB 2.0. It provides 50% more power than USB 2.0 (150 mA vs 100 mA) to unconfigured devices and up to 80% more power (900 mA vs 500 mA) to configured devices. It is also better at conserving power, when compared to USB 2.0, which uses power when the cable or device isn’t being used. With USB 3.0, when devices are idle, it doesn't broadcast packets or perform polling.

USB 3.0 is completely backwards compatible with USB 2.0. Applications built to the USB 2.0 spec will work seamlessly with USB 3.0. collapse


Black Box Explains...Augmented Category 6 (CAT6A).


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... more/see it nowCAT6 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 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.

There are two types of CAT6a cable, UTP and F/UTP.

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Black Box Explains...LAN switches.



Rush hour-all day, every day.

Applications such as document imaging, video/multimedia production, and intranetworking are very demanding. They generate huge data files that often must be transferred... more/see it nowbetween stations based on strict timing requirements. If such traffic is not transmitted efficiently, you end up with jerky video, on-screen graphics that take forever to load, or other irritating, debilitating problems.


These problems arise because in traditional LANs, only one network node transmits data at a time while all other stations listen. This works in conventional, server-based LANs where multiple workstations share files or applications housed on a central server. But if a network has several servers, or if it supports high-bandwidth, peer-to-peer applications such as videoconferencing, the one-station-at-a-time model just doesn’t work.


Ideally, each LAN workstation should be configured with its own dedicated LAN cable segment. But that’s neither practical nor affordable. A far more reasonable solution is a network designed to provide clear paths from each workstation to its destination on demand, whether that destination is another workstation or server.


These vehicles clear the lanes.

Unlike bridges and routers, which process data packets on an individual, first-come, first-served basis, switches maintain multiple, simultaneous data conversions among attached LAN segments.


From the perspective of an end-user workstation, a switched circuit appears to be a dedicated connection-a direct, full-speed LAN link to an attached server or other remote LAN node. Although this technique is somewhat different from what a LAN bridge or router does, switching hubs are based on similar technologies.




Which route will you choose?

Switching hubs that use bridging technologies are called Layer 2 switches-a reference to Layer 2 or the Data-Link Layer of the OSI Model. These switches operate using the MAC addresses in Layer 2 and are transparent to network protocols. Switches that use routing technologies are known as Layer 3 switches, referring to Layer 3—the Network Layer—of the OSI Model. These switches, like routers, represent the next higher level of intelligence in the hardware hierarchy. Rather than passing packets based on MAC addresses, these switches look into the data structure and route it based on the network addresses found in Layer 3. They are also dependent on the network protocol.


Layer 2 switches connect different parts of the same network as determined by the network number contained with the data packet. Layer 3 switches connect LANs or LAN segments with different network numbers.


If you’re subdividing an existing LAN, obviously you’re dealing with only one network and one network number, so you can install a Layer 2 switch wherever it will segment network traffic the best, and you don’t have to reconfigure the LAN. However, if you use a Layer 3 switch, you’ll have to reconfigure the segments to ensure that each has a different network number.


Similarly, if you’re connecting existing networks, you have to examine the currently configured network numbers before adding a switch. If the network numbers are the same, you need to use a Layer 2 switch. If they’re different, you must use a Layer 3 switch.


When dealing with multiple existing networks, you’ll find they usually use different network numbers. In this case, it’s preferable to use a Layer 3 switch (or possibly even a full-featured router) to avoid reconfiguring the network.


But what if you’re designing a network from scratch and can choose either type of switch? Your decision should be based on the expected complexity of your LAN. Layer 3 routing technology is well suited for complex networks. Layer 2 switches are recommended for smaller, less complex networks.

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Black Box Explains... Spread Spectrum wireless technology.

Frequency-Hopping Spread Spectrum wireless communication provides error-free transmission, top security, and high levels of throughput without the need for an FCC site license. The key to Spread Spectrum is a... more/see it nowfrequency-hopping transceiver.

Narrow-band frequency hoppers use a predefined algorithm to maintain synchronization and high throughput between master and remote modems. They achieve this by continually switching or “hopping” from one transmission frequency to another throughout the Spread Spectrum band. The sequence of frequencies is very difficult to predict and thus nearly impossible to eavesdrop on or jam. If interference is encountered at any particular frequency, the built-in error correction detects it and resends the data packet at the next frequency hop. Because EMI/RFI interference rarely affects the entire available bandwidth, and each frequency hop is at least 6 MHz, the radio transmitter has access to as many as 100 frequencies within the spectrum to avoid interference and ensure that data gets through. collapse


Black Box Explains...Why you should consider a UPS.

Downtime is unacceptable and often costly. But it’s impossible to get 99.9% uptime when you plug your hardware into an AC outlet.

Power problems are the most common cause of network... more/see it nowinterruptions. According to an IBM® study, the average system is hit by 120 power disturbances per month.

Have you ever had to reset the clock on your VCR or seen the lights dim for a moment when the refrigerator kicks on? These are common occurrences that are insignificant at home but can cause a shutdown in your network. Many power disturbances are so short they’re invisible to the human eye, but they can make a router lock up or a switch require rebooting. Power problems are actually more common than you may know. For instance:
• 34% of network downtime is because of bad power (IBM study).
• 99% of power problems are brownouts (low voltage) or blackouts (complete outages). Only a UPS protects against those.
• It takes 90.87 seconds for switches in non redundant networks to recover from power interruptions.
• 45% of all data loss is caused by power problems.

For a small fraction of the cost of your networking hardware, you can purchase a UPS that protects your network from blackouts, brownouts (low voltages), and surges—even lightning strikes!

To prevent power disasters before they happen, more than 70% of servers are protected with a UPS. Network managers know that having a server down brings many operations to a halt. Although the loss of a single hub or router may not bring the entire corporation to a standstill, it can result in zero productivity for entire workgroups or remote offices.

How can you tell if your system is suffering from power problems?

See if some of these symptoms are familiar: damaged hardware, numerous service calls, erratic operation, unexplained problems, unreliable data, system slowdown, damaged software, system lockups, and more.

If you’ve experienced some of these problems, you need a UPS. It will keep power flowing, giving you enough time to shut down safely during a power outage. It will also regulate your power, smoothing out dangerous overvoltages and undervoltages, spikes, surges, and impulses that often go unnoticed. These power anomalies can be caused internally by nearby machinery, fluorescent lights, and elevators, as well as externally from nearby transformer problems, lightning strikes, downed power lines, and more.

Data and equipment losses from power problems are preventable. Eliminate system downtime and increase profitability and productivity with a UPS.

When looking for a UPS, consider these steps:

1. List all the equipment you have that needs protection. Remember to include monitors, terminals, hard drives, external modems, and any other equipment in the critical path of potential power or surge sources.

2. Add up the total amperage ratings of your equipment. This information is probably imprinted on the back of each device.

3. Multiply this total amperage figure by the operating voltage (typically 120 VAC in the U.S.) to obtain your total volt/amp (VA) requirement with a safety margin.

4. Select a UPS with a VA capacity at least as high as the amount in Step 3. To accommodate for future expansion, it’s wise to order a device with an even larger VA rating.

5. If you have questions about which UPS is right for you, contact Tech Support. collapse


Black Box Explains...Solid vs. stranded cable.

Solid-conductor cable is designed for backbone and horizontal cable runs. Use it for runs between two wiring closets or from the wiring closet to a wallplate. Solid cable shouldn’t be... more/see it nowbent, flexed, or twisted repeatedly. Its attenuation is lower than that of stranded-conductor cable.

Stranded cable is for use in shorter runs between network interface cards (NICs) and wallplates or between concentrators and patch panels, hubs, and other rackmounted equipment. Stranded-conductor cable is much more flexible than solid-core cable. However, attenuation is higher in stranded-conductor cable, so the total length of stranded cable in your system should be kept to a minimum to reduce signal degradation. collapse


Black Box Explains...PoE phantom power.

10BASE-T and 100BASE-TX Ethernet use only two pairs of wire in 4-pair CAT5/CAT5e/CAT6 cable, leaving the other two pairs free to transmit power for Power over Ethernet (PoE) applications. However,... more/see it nowGigabit Ethernet or 1000BASE-T uses all four pairs of wires, leaving no pairs free for power. So how can PoE work over Gigabit Ethernet?

The answer is through the use of phantom power—power sent over the same wire pairs used for data. When the same pair is used for both power and data, the power and data transmissions don’t interfere with each other. Because electricity and data function at opposite ends of the frequency spectrum, they can travel over the same cable. Electricity has a low frequency of 60 Hz or less, and data transmissions have frequencies that can range from 10 million to 100 million Hz.

10- and 100-Mbps PoE may also use phantom power. The 802.3af PoE standard for use with 10BASE-T and 100BASE-TX defines two methods of power transmission. In one method, called Alternative A, power and data are sent over the same pair. In the other method, called Alternative B, two wire pairs are used to transmit data, and the remaining two pairs are used for power. That there are two different PoE power-transmission schemes isn’t obvious to the casual user because PoE Powered Devices (PDs) are made to accept power in either format. collapse


Black Box Explains...USB 2.0 and USB OTG.

The Universal Serial Bus (USB) hardware (plug-and-play) standard makes connecting peripherals to your computer easy.

USB 1.1, introduced in 1995, is the original USB standard. It has two data rates:... more/see it now12 Mbps for devices such as disk drives that need high-speed throughput and 1.5 Mbps for devices such as joysticks that need much lower bandwidth.

In 2002, a newer specification, USB 2.0, or Hi-Speed USB 2.0, gained wide acceptance in the industry. This version is both forward- and backward-compatible with USB 1.1. It increases the speed of the peripheral to PC connection from 12 Mbps to 480 Mbps, or 40 times faster than USB 1.1!

This increase in bandwidth enhances the use of external peripherals that require high throughput, such as CD/DVD burners, scanners, digital cameras, video equipment, and more. USB 2.0 supports demanding applications, such as Web publishing, in which multiple high-speed devices run simultaneously. USB 2.0 also supports Windows® XP through a Windows update.

An even newer USB standard, USB On-The-Go (OTG), is also in development. USB OTG enables devices other than a PC to act as a host. It enables portable equipment—such as PDAs, cell phones, digital cameras, and digital music players—to connect to each other without the need for a PC host.

USB 2.0 specifies three types of connectors: the A connector, the B connector, and the Mini B connector. A fourth type of connector, the Mini A (used for smaller peripherals such as mobile phones), was developed as part of the USB OTG specification. collapse


Black Box Explains... KVM IP gateways

Just as a gate serves as an entry or exit point to a property, a gateway serves the same purpose in the networking world. It’s the device that acts as... more/see it nowa network entrance or go-between for two or more networks.

There are different types of gateways, depending on the network.

An application gateway converts data or commands from one format to another. A VoIP gateway converts analog voice calls into VoIP packets. An IP gateway is like a media gateway, translating data from one telecommunications device to another.

Gateways often include other features and devices, such as protocol converters, routers, firewalls, encryption, voice compression, etc. Although a gateway is an essential feature of most routers, other devices, such as a PC or server, can also function as a gateway.

A KVMoIP switch contains an IP gateway, which is the pathway the KVM signals use to travel from the IP network to an existing non-IP KVM switch. It converts and directs the KVM signals, giving a user access to and control of an existing non-IP KVM switch over the Internet. collapse

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