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Black Box Explains...Low-profile PCI serial adapters.

Ever notice that newer computers are getting smaller and slimmer? That means regular PCI boards won’t fit into these computers’ low-profile PCI slots. But because miniaturization is the rage in... more/see it nowall matters of technology, it was only a short matter of time before low-profile PCI serial adapters became available—and Black Box has them.

Low-profile cards meet the PCI Special Interest Group (PCI-SIG) Low-Profile PCI specifications, the form-factor definitions for input/output expansion. Low-Profile PCI has two card lengths defined for 32-bit bus cards: MD1 and MD2. MD1 is the smaller of the two, with cards no larger than 4.721 inches long and 2.536 inches high. MD2 cards are a maximum of 6.6 inches long and 2.536 inches high.

BLACK BOX® Low-Profile Serial PCI cards comply with the MD1 low-profile specification and are compatible with the universal bus. Universal bus is a PCI card that can operate in either a 5-V or 3.3-V signaling level system. collapse

Black Box Explains...10-Gigabit Ethernet.

10-Gigabit Ethernet (10-GbE), ratified in June 2002, is a logical extension of previous Ethernet versions. 10-GbE was designed to make the transition from LANs to Wide Area Networks (WANs) and... more/see it nowMetropolitan Area Networks (MANs). It offers a cost-effective migration for high-performance and long-haul transmissions at up to 40 kilometers. Its most common application now is as a backbone for high-speed LANs, server farms, and campuses.

10-GbE supports existing Ethernet technologies. It uses the same layers (MAC, PHY, and PMD), and the same frame sizes and formats. But the IEEE 802.3ae spec defines two sets of physical interfaces: LAN (LAN PHY) and WAN (WAN PHY). The most notable difference between 10-GbE and previous Ethernets is that 10-GbE operates in full-duplex only and specifies fiber optic media.

At a glance—Gigabit vs. 10-Gigabit Ethernet

• CSMA/CD + full-duplex
• Leveraged Fibre Channel PMDs
• Reused 8B/10B coding
• Optical/copper media
• Support LAN to 5 km
• Carrier extension

10-Gigabit Ethernet
• Full-duplex only
• New optical PMDs
• New coding scheme 64B/66B
• Optical (developing copper)
• Support LAN to 40 km
• Throttle MAC speed for WAN
• Use SONET/SDH as Layer 1 transport

The alphabetical coding for 10-GbE is as follows:
S = 850 nm
L = 1310 nm
E = 1550 nm
X = 8B/10B signal encoding
R = 66B encoding
W = WIS interface (for use with SONET).

10GBASE-SR — Distance: 300 m; Wavelength: 850 nm; Cable: Multimode
10GBASE-SW — Distance: 300 m; Wavelength: 850 nm; Cable: Multimode
10GBASE-LR — Distance: 10 km; Wavelength: 1310 nm; Cable: Single-Mode
10GBASE-LW — Distance: 10 km; Wavelength: 1310 nm; Cable: Single-Mode
10GBASE-LX4 — Distance: Multimode 300 m, Single-Mode 10 km; Wavelength: Multimode 1310 nm, Single-Mode WWDM; Cable: Multimode or Single-Mode
10GBASE-ER — Distance: 40 km; Wavelength: 1550 nm; Cable: Single-Mode
10GBASE-EW — Distance: 40 km; Wavelength: 550 nm; Cable: Single-Mode
10GBASE-CX4* — Distance: 15 m; Wavelength: Cable: 4 x Twinax
10GBASE-T* — Distance: 25–100 m; Wavelength: Cable: Twisted Pair
* Proposed for copper. collapse

Black Box Explains...Category 6.

Category 6 (CAT6)–Class E has a specified frequency of 250 MHz, significantly improved bandwidth capacity over CAT5e, and easily handles Gigabit Ethernet transmissions. In recent years, it has been the... more/see it nowcable of choice for new structured cabling systems. CAT6 supports 1000BASE-T and, depending on the installation, 10GBASE-T (10-GbE).

10-GbE over CAT6 introduces the problem of 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, TSB-155 qualifies 10-GbE over CAT6 up to 55 meters and requires it to be 100% tested. To mitigate ANEXT in CAT6, it is recommended that you unbundle the cables and increase the separation between the cables.

You can always contact Black Box Tech Support to answer your cabling questions. Our techs can recommend cable testers and steer you in the right direction when you’re installing new cabling. And the advice is FREE! collapse

Black Box Explains...HDBaseT

HDBaseT is a connectivity standard for distribution of uncompressed HD multimedia content. HDBaseT technology converges full HD digital video, audio, 100BaseT Ethernet, power over cable, and various control signals through... more/see it nowa single LAN cable. This is referred to as 5Play™, a feature set that sets HDBaseT technology above the current standard.

HDBaseT delivers full HD/3D and 2K/4K uncompressed video to a network of devices or to a single device (point-to-point). HDBaseT supports all key HDMI 1.4 features, including EPG, Consumer Electronic Controls (CEC), EDID, and HDCP. The unique video coding scheme ensure the highest video quality at zero latency.

As with the video, HDBaseT audio is passed through from the HDMI chipset. All standard formats are supported, including Dolby Digital, DTS, Dolby TrueHD, DTS HD-Master Audio.

HDBaseT supports 100Mb Ethernet, which enables communications between electronic devices including televisions, sound systems, computers, and more. Additionally, Ethernet support enables access to any stored multimedia content (such as video or music streaming).

HDBaseT's wide range of control options include CEC, RS-232, and infrared (IR). IP control is enabled through Ethernet channel support.

The same cable that delivers video, audio, Ethernet, and control can deliver up to 100W of DC power. This means users can place equipment where one wants to, not just those locations with an available power source. HDBaseT Architecture
HDBaseT sends video, audio, Ethernet, and control from the source to the display, but only transfers 100Mb of data from display to source (Ethernet and control data). The asymmetric nature of HDBaseT is based on a digital signal processing (DSP) engine and an application front end (AFE) architecture.

HDBaseT uses a proprietary version of Pulse Amplitude Modulation (PAM) technology, where digital data is represented as a coding scheme using different levels of DC voltage at high rates. This special coding provides a better transfer quality to some kinds of data without the need to "pay" the protecting overhead for the video content, which consumes most of the bandwidth. HDBaseT PAM technology enables the 5Play feature-set to be maintained over a single 330-foot (100 m) CAT cable without the electrical characteristics of the wire affecting performance.


Black Box Explains...Single-strand fiber WDM.

Traditional fiber optic media converters perform a useful function but don’t really reduce the amount of cable needed to send data on a fiber segment. They still require two strands... more/see it nowof glass to send transmit and receive signals for fiber media communications. Wouldn’t it be better to combine these two logical communication paths within one strand?

That’s exactly what single-strand fiber conversion does. It compresses the transmit and receive wavelengths into one single-mode fiber strand.

The conversion is done with Wave-Division Multiplexing (WDM) technology. WDM technology increases the information-carrying capacity of optical fiber by transmitting two signals simultaneously at different wavelengths on the same fiber. The way it usually works is that one unit transmits at 1310 nm and receives at 1550 nm. The other unit transmits at 1550 nm and receives at 1310 nm. The two wavelengths operate independently and don’t interfere with each other. This bidirectional traffic flow effectively converts a single fiber into a pair of “virtual fibers,” each driven independently at different wavelengths.

Although most implementations of WDM on single-strand fiber offer two channels, four-channel versions are just being introduced, and versions offering as many as 10 channels with Gigabit capacity are on the horizon.

WDM on single-strand fiber is most often used for point-to-point links on a long-distance network. It’s also used to increase network capacity or relieve network congestion. collapse

Black Box Explains...Ethernet hubs vs. Ethernet switches.

Although hubs and switches look very similar and are connected to the network in much the same way, there is a significant difference in the way they function.

What is a... more/see it nowhub?
An Ethernet hub is the basic building block of a twisted-pair (10BASE-T or 100BASE-TX) Ethernet network. Hubs do little more than act as a physical connection. They link PCs and peripherals and enable them to communicate over a network. All data coming into the hub travels to all stations connected to the hub. Because a hub doesn’t use management or addressing, it simply divides the 10- or 100-Mbps bandwidth among users. If two stations are transferring high volumes of data between them, the network performance of all stations on that hub will suffer. Hubs are good choices for small- or home-office networks, particularly if bandwidth concerns are minimal.

What is a switch?
An Ethernet switch, on the other hand, provides a central connection in an Ethernet network in which each connected device has its own dedicated link with full bandwidth. Switches divide LAN data into smaller, easier-to-manage segments and send data only to the PCs it needs to reach. They allot a full 10 or 100 Mbps to each user with addressing and management features. As a result, every port on the switch represents a dedicated 10- or 100-Mbps pathway. Because users connected to a switch do not have to share bandwidth, a switch offers relief from the network congestion a shared hub can cause.

What to consider when selecting an Ethernet hub:
• Stackability. Select a stackable hub connected with a special cable so you can start with one hub and add others as you need more ports. The entire stack functions as one device.
• Manageability. Choose an SNMP-manageable hub if you have a large, managed network.

What to consider when selecting an Ethernet switch:
• Manageability. Ethernet switches intended for large managed networks feature built-in management, usually SNMP.
• OSI Layer operation. Most Ethernet switches operate at “Layer 2,” which is for the physical network addresses (MAC addresses). Layer 3 switches use network addresses, and incorporate routing functions to actively calculate the best way to send a packet to its destination. Very advanced Ethernet switches, often known as routing switches, operate on OSI Layer 4 and route network traffic according to the application.
• Modular construction. A modular switch enables you to populate a chassis with modules of different speeds and media types. Because you can easily change modules, the modular switch is an adaptable solution for large, growing networks.
• Stackability. Some Ethernet switches can be connected to form a stack of two or more switches that functions as a single network device. This enables you to start with fewer ports and add them as your network grows. collapse

Black Box Explains...Power problems.

The Threat — A sag is a decline in the voltage level. Also known as “brownouts,” sags are the most common power problem.

The Cause — Sags can be caused... more/see it nowlocally by the start-up demands of electrical devices such as motors, compressors, and elevators. Sags may also happen during periods of high electrical use, such as during a heat wave.

The Effect — Sags are often the cause of “unexplained” computer glitches such as system crashes, frozen keyboards, and data loss. Sags can also reduce the efficiency and lifespan of electrical motors.

The Threat — A blackout is a total loss of power.

The Cause — Blackouts are caused by excessive demand on the power grid, an act of nature such as lightning or an earthquake, or a human accident such as a car hitting a power pole or a backhoe digging in the wrong place.

The Effect — Of course a blackout brings everything to a complete stop. You also lose any unsaved data stored in RAM and may even lose the total contents of your hard drive.

The Threat — A spike, also called an impulse, is an instantaneous, dramatic increase in voltage.

The Cause — A spike is usually caused by a nearby lightning strike but may also occur when power is restored after a blackout.

The Effect — A spike can damage or completely destroy electrical components and also cause data loss.

The Threat — A surge is an increase in voltage lasting at least 1/120 of a second.

The Cause — When high-powered equipment such as an air conditioner is powered off, the excess voltage is dissipated though the power line causing a surge.

The Effect — Surges stress delicate electronic components causing them to wear out before their time.

The Threat — Electrical noise, more technically called electromagnetic interference (EMI) and radio frequency interference (RFI), interrupts the smooth sine wave expected from electrical power.

The Cause — Noise has many causes including nearby lightning, load switching, industrial equipment, and radio transmitters. It may be intermittent or chronic.

The Effect — Noise introduces errors into programs and data files. collapse

Black Box Explains...4K

4K is a term to describe a maximum video resolution of 4096 x 2400 pixels. However, the most commonly used resolution is UHD (Ultra High Definition) at 3840 x 2160... more/see it nowpixels. This resolution basically allows for four full HD signals of 1920 x 1080 pixels to be displayed on a single screen. Unfortunately, the pure pixel count doesn't tell the complete the story. The following overview provides an examination of some key differences to provide users with a better understanding of potential requirements to help select suitable solutions.

Technical Details

  • Maximum resolution: 4096 x 2400, with 3840 x 2160 reflecting between 8.9 Megapixel and 9.8 Megapixel
  • Refresh rate: 24p/30p/60p

  • Typical Interfaces
    The DVI specification allows 1920 x 1200 pixels to be transmitted in single-link format or 2560 x 1600 (2048 x 2048) pixels in dual link. Typically, the single link is supported by 23- or 24-inch displays, commonly called Full HD panels. The dual-link resolutions require larger screen sizes of typically 27 inches (2560 x 1440), 30 inch (2560 x 1600), or square ATC displays of 2048 x 2048 pixels.

    Full 4K resolutions of 3840 x 2160 or higher over DVI dual link are possible, but only at less than 30 Hz due to bandwidth limitations. The bandwidth required for professional AV and PC environments can come to 4.95 Gbps (165 Mhz) for single link or 9.9 Gbps (2x 165 Mhz) for dual-link DVI.

    HDMI and DVI share the same digital video signal format, but HDMI 1.2 allows for higher pixel clock frequencies, resulting in higher bandwidth or resolutions and deeper color.

    The specifications vary based on the different HDMI versions. Up to HDMI 1.2 the specs more or less reflect those of DVI video. HDMI 1.3 and 1.4 exceed the dual-link DVI specs although it only uses a single link. HDMI 1.3/1.4 bandwidth is 10.2 Gbps (single link 140 Mhz).

    Most HDMI 4K appliances and displays currently on the market are limited to 30 Hz. The recently released HDMI 2.0 standard increases bandwidth to 18 Gpbs (600 Mhz), effectively matching the bandwidth of DisplayPort for supporting 4K at up to 60 fps. The first HDMI 2.0 displays supporting this full specification are presently showing up on the market. HDMI is commonly used on almost all consumer and professional AV equipment.

    DisplayPort 1.2
    DisplayPort is a slightly different, micro packet-based, video standard supporting a maximum bandwidth of approximately 17 Gbits. This currently makes it the only suitable single-connect option for full UHD (3840 x 2160) at 60 fps.

    DisplayPort is mainly used on PC graphic adapter cards. Note: all current graphics cards with DisplayPort support the full DisplayPort 1.2a specification of 5.4 Gbps per lane and therefore only support 30 fps rather than 60 fps 4K resolutions.

    Thunderbolt 1.0 is an Apple-only interface for multi-purpose use including video. Thunderbolt is compatible with DP 1.1 and capable of natively outputting DisplayPort signals. Thunderbolt 2.0 is needed to support 4K at 60Hz, and is compatible with DisplayPort 1.2.

    Different ways of delivering 4K
    Depending on the specifications of the equipment being used, a 4K signal may be delivered in the following ways:

    Full spec 60 fps
  • Display/projector with four single-link DVI interfaces and synchronized channels. Acts like a video wall in just a single large device.
  • Display/projector with two dual-link DVI interfaces and synchronized channels. Acts like a video wall in just a single large device.
  • Display/projector with either two dula-link DVI or HDMI 1.4 inputs. The term used to describe this method is Multiple Protocol Transport (MPT).
  • Display with either DisplayPort, Thunderbolt, or upcoming HDMI 2.0 full spec interfaces.

  • 4K @ 24/30 fps
  • Display/projector with either one dual-link DVI or HDMI 1.4 input. (MPT.)
  • Display with either DisplayPort, Thunderbolt or upcoming HDMI 2.0 full spec interfaces.
  • collapse

    Black Box Explains...vDSL.

    VDSL (Very High Bit-Rate Digital Subscriber Line or Very High-Speed Digital Subscriber Line) is a “last-mile” broadband solution for both businesses and homes, providing economical, high-speed connections to fiber optic... more/see it nowbackbones.

    VDSL enables the simultaneous transmission of voice, data, and video on existing voice-grade copper wires. Depending on the intended applications, you can set VDSL to run symmetrically or asymmetrically. VDSL’s high bandwidth allows for applications such as high-definition television, video-on-demand (VOD), high-quality videoconferencing, medical imaging, fast Internet access, and regular voice telephone services—all over a single voice-grade twisted pair. The actual VDSL distances you achieve vary based on line rate, gauge and type of wire, and noise/crosstalk environment. collapse

    Black Box Explains...Ethernet.

    If you have an existing network, there’s a 90% chance it’s Ethernet. If you’re installing a new network, there’s a 98% chance it’s Ethernet—the Ethernet standard is... more/see it nowthe overwhelming favorite network standard today.

    Ethernet was developed by Xerox®, DEC®, and Intel® in the mid-1970s as a 10-Mbps (Megabits per second) networking protocol—very fast for its day—operating over a heavy coax cable (Standard Ethernet).

    Today, although many networks have migrated to Fast Ethernet (100 Mbps) or even Gigabit Ethernet (1000 Mbps), 10-Mbps Ethernet is still in widespread use and forms the basis of most networks.

    Ethernet is defined by international standards, specifically IEEE 802.3. It enables the connection of up to 1024 nodes over coax, twisted-pair, or fiber optic cable. Most new installations today use economical, lightweight cables such as Category 5 unshielded twisted-pair cable and fiber optic cable.

    How Ethernet Works

    Ethernet signals are transmitted from a station serially, one bit at a time, to every other station on the network.

    Ethernet uses a broadcast access method called Carrier Sense Multiple Access/Collision Detection (CSMA/CD) in which every computer on the network “hears” every transmission, but each computer “listens” only to transmissions intended for it.

    Each computer can send a message anytime it likes without having to wait for network permission. The signal it sends travels to every computer on the network. Every computer hears the message, but only the computer for which the message is intended recognizes it. This computer recognizes the message because the message contains its address. The message also contains the address of the sending computer so the message can be acknowledged.

    If two computers send messages at the same moment, a “collision” occurs, interfering with the signals. A computer can tell if a collision has occurred when it doesn’t hear its own message within a given amount of time. When a collision occurs, each of the colliding computers waits a random amount of time before resending the message.

    The process of collision detection and retransmission is handled by the Ethernet adapter itself and doesn’t involve the computer. The process of collision resolution takes only a fraction of a second under most circumstances. Collisions are normal and expected events on an Ethernet network. As more computers are added to the network and the traffic level increases, more collisions occur as part of normal operation. However, if the network gets too crowded, collisions increase to the point where they slow down the network considerably.

    Standard (Thick) Ethernet (10BASE5)

    • Uses “thick” coax cable with N-type connectors for a backbone and a transceiver cable with 9-pin connectors from the transceiver to the NIC.
    • Both ends of each segment should be terminated with a 50-ohm resistor.
    • Maximum segment length is 500 meters.
    • Maximum total length is 2500 meters.
    • Maximum length of transceiver cable is 50 meters.
    • Minimum distance between transceivers is 2.5 meters.
    • No more than 100 transceiver connections per segment are allowed.
    Thin Ethernet (ThinNet) (10BASE2)

    • Uses "Thin" coax cable.
    • The maximum length of one segment is 185 meters.
    • The maximum number of segments is five.
    • The maximum total length of all segments is 925 meters.
    • The minimum distance between T-connectors is 0.5 meters.
    • No more than 30 connections per segment are allowed.
    • T-connectors must be plugged directly into each device.
    Twisted-Pair Ethernet (10BASE-T)

    • Uses 22 to 26 AWG unshielded twisted-pair cable (for best results, use Category 4 or 5 unshielded twisted pair).
    • The maximum length of one segment is 100 meters.
    • Devices are connected to a 10BASE-T hub in a star configuration.
    • Devices with standard AUI connectors may be attached via a 10BASE-T transceiver.
    Fiber Optic Ethernet (10BASE-FL, FOIRL)

    • Uses 50-, 62.5-, or 100-micron duplex multimode fiber optic cable (62.5 micron is recommended).
    • The maximum length of one 10BASE-FL (the new standard for fiber optic connections) segment is 2 kilometers.
    • The maximum length of one FOIRL (the standard that preceded the new 10BASE-FL) segment is 1 kilometer.

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