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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
    DVI-D
    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
    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
    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... Why go wireless?

    • It’s great for communicating in harsh climates or in areas where it’s expensive to run cable. Wireless solutions are well suited for use in military applications, farming, refineries, mining,... more/see it nowconstruction, and field research.
    • Because sometimes you just can’t run wire, like in historic buildings or hazmat areas.
    • When it’s physically or legally impossible to support conventional hard-wired RS-232 communications, wireless networking may be your only answer.
    • It gives you quick, temporary connections at trade shows, and fast reconfigurations—even troubleshooting or remote field testing.
    • It provides reliable disaster relief when all else fails! Count on wireless networks to maintain mission-critical links when disaster strikes.
    • It’s more affordable, more reliable, and faster than ever before.
    • Best of all, no FCC licensing required! collapse


    Black Box Explains...Optical isolation and ground loops.

    Optical isolation protects your equipment from dangerous ground loops. A ground loop is a current across a conductor, created by a difference in potential between two grounded points, as in... more/see it nowequipment in two buildings connected by a run of RS-232 or other data line. When two devices are connected and their potentials are different, voltage flows from high to low by traveling through the data cable. If the voltage potential is large enough, your equipment won’t be able to handle the excess voltage and one of your ports will be damaged.

    Ground loops can also exist in industrial environments. They can be created when power is supplied to your equipment from different transformers or when someone simply turns equipment on and off. Ground loops can also occur when there is a nearby lightning strike. During an electrical storm, the ground at one location can be charged differently than the other location, causing a heavy current flow through the serial communication lines that damage components.

    You can’t test for ground loops. You don’t know you have one until a vital component fails. Only prevention works. For data communication involving copper cable, optical isolation is key.

    With optical isolation, electrical data is converted to an optical beam, then back to an electrical pulse. Because there is no electrical connection between the DTE and DCE sides, an optical isolator— unlike a surge suppressor—will not pass large sustained power surges through to your equipment. Since data only passes through the optical isolator, your equipment is protected against ground loops and other power surges. collapse


    Black Box Explains...How a line driver operates.

    Driving data? Better check the transmission.

    Line drivers can operate in any of four transmission modes: 4-wire full-duplex, 2-wire full-duplex, 4-wire half-duplex, and 2-wire half-duplex. In fact, most models support more... more/see it nowthan one type of operation.

    So how do you know which line driver to use in your application?

    The deal with duplexing.
    First you must decide if you need half- or full-duplex transmission. In half-duplex transmission, voice or data signals are transmitted in only one direction at a time, In full-duplex operation, voice or data signals are transmitted in both directions at the same time. In both scenarios, the communications path support the full data rate.

    The entire bandwidth is available for your transmission in half-duplex mode. In full-duplex mode, however, the bandwidth must be split in two because data travels in both directions simultaneously.

    Two wires or not two wires? That is the question.
    The second consideration you have is the type of twisted-pair cable you need to complete your data transmissions. Generally you need twisted-pair cable with either two or four wires. Often the type of cabling that’s already installed in a building dictates what kind of a line driver you use. For example, if two twisted pairs of UTP cabling are available, you can use a line driver that operates in 4-wire applications, such as the Short-Haul Modem-B Async or the Line Driver-Dual Handshake models. Otherwise, you might choose a line driver that works for 2-wire applications, such as the Short-Haul Modem-B 2W or the Async 2-Wire Short-Haul Modem.

    If you have the capabilities to support both 2- and 4-wire operation in half- or full-duplex mode, we even offer line drivers that support all four types of operation.

    As always, if you’re still unsure which operational mode will work for your particular applications, consult our Technical Support experts and they’ll help you make your decision. collapse


    Black Box Explains…How to keep cabinets cool.

    Networking equipment—especially servers—generates a lot of heat in a relatively small area. Today’s servers are smaller and have faster CPUs than ever. Because most of the power used by these... more/see it nowdevices is dissipated into the air as heat, they can really strain the cooling capacity of your data center. The components housed in a medium-sized data center can easily generate enough heat to heat a house in the dead of winter!

    So cool you must, because when network components become hot, they're prone to failure and a shortened lifespan.

    Damage caused by heat is not always immediately evident as a catastrophic meltdown—signs of heat damage include node crashes and hardware failures that can happen over a period of weeks or even months, leading to chronic downtime.

    Computer rooms generally have special equipment such as high-capacity air conditioning and raised-floor cooling systems to meet their high cooling requirements. However, it's also important to ensure that individual cabinets used for network equipment provide adequate ventilation. Even if your data center is cool, the inside of a cabinet may overheat if air distribution is inadequate. Just cranking up the air conditioning is not the solution.

    The temperature inside a cabinet is affected by many variables, including door perforations, cabinet size, and the types of components housed within the cabinet.

    The most direct way to cool network equipment is to ensure adequate airflow. The goal is to ensure that every server, every router, every switch has the necessary amount of air no matter how high or low it is in the cabinet.

    It takes a certain volume of air to cool a device to within its ideal temperature range. Equipment manufacturers provide very little guidance about how to do this; however, there are some very basic methods you can use to maximize the ventilation within your cabinets.

    Open it up.
    Most major server manufacturers recommend that the front and back cabinet doors have at least 63% open area for airflow. You can achieve this by either removing cabinet doors altogether or by buying cabinets that have perforated doors.

    Because most servers, as well as other network devices, are equipped with internal fans, open or perforated doors may be the only ventilation you need as long as your data center has enough air conditioning to dissipate the heat load.

    You may also want to choose cabinets with side panels to keep the air within each cabinet from mixing with hot air from an adjacent cabinet.

    Equipment placement.
    Don't overload the cabinet by trying to fit in too many servers—75% to 80% of capacity is about right. Leave at least 1U of space between rows of servers for front-to-back ventilation. Maintain at least a 1.5" clearance between equipment and the front and back of the cabinet. And finally, ensure all unused rack space is closed off with blank panels to prevent recirculation of warm air.

    Fans and fan placement.
    You can increase ventilation even more by installing fans to actively circulate air through cabinets. The most common cabinet fans are top-mounted fan panels that pull air from the bottom of the cabinet or through the doors. For spot cooling, use a fan or fan panel that mounts inside the cabinet.

    For very tightly-packed cabinets, choose an enclosure blower—a specialized high-speed fan that mounts in the bottom of the cabinet to pull a column of cool air from the floor across the front of your servers or other equipment. An enclosure blower requires a solid or partially vented front door with adequate space—usually at least 4 inches—between the front of your equipment and the cabinet door for air movement.

    When using fans to cool a cabinet, keep in mind that cooling the outside of a component doesn't necessarily cool its inside. The idea is to be sure that the air circulates where your equipment's air intake is. Also, beware of installing fans within the cabinets that work against the small fans in your equipment and overwhelm them.

    Temperature monitoring.
    To ensure that your components are operating within their approved temperature range, it’s important to monitor conditions within your cabinets.

    The most direct method to monitor cabinet temperature is to put a thermometer into your cabinet and check it regularly. This simple and inexpensive method can work well for for small installations, but it does have its drawbacks—a cabinet thermometer can’t tell you what the temperature inside individual components is, it can’t raise the alarm if the temperature goes out of range, and it must be checked manually.

    Another simple and inexpensive addition to a cabinet is a thermostat that automatically turns on a fan when the cabinet's temperature exceeds a predetermined limit.

    Many network devices come with SNMP or IP-addressable internal temperature sensors to tell you what the internal temperature of the component is. This is the preferred temperature monitoring method because these sensors are inside your components where the temperature really counts. Plus you can monitor them from your desktop—they’ll send you an alert if there’s a problem.

    There are also cabinet temperature sensors that can alert you over your network. These sensors are often built into another device such as a PDA but only monitor cabinet temperature, not the temperature inside individual devices. However, these sensors can be a valuable addition to your cooling plan, especially for older devices that don't have internal sensors.

    The future of cabinet cooling.
    Very high-density data centers filled with blade servers present an extreme cooling challenge, causing some IT managers to resort to liquid-cooled cabinets. They’re still fairly new and tend to make IT managers nervous at the prospect of liquids near electronics, but their high efficiency makes it likely that these liquid-cooled systems will become more prevalent.

    It’s easy, really.
    Keeping your data and server cabinets cool doesn't have to be complicated. Just remember not to overcrowd the cabinets, be sure to provide adequate ventilation, and always monitor conditions within your cabinets. collapse


    Black Box Explains...Layer 3 switching.

    In the last decade, network topologies have typically featured routers along with hubs or switches. The hub or switch acts as a central wiring point for LAN segments while the... more/see it nowrouter takes care of higher-level functions such as protocol translation, traffic between LAN segments, and wide-area access.

    Layer 3 switching, which combines Layer 2 switching and Layer 3 IP routing, provides a more cost-effective way of setting up LANs by incorporating switching and routing into one device. While a traditional Layer 2 switch simply sends data along without examining it, a Layer 3 switch incorporates some features of a router in that it examines data packets before sending them on their way. The integration of switching and routing in a Layer 3 switch takes advantage of the speed of a switch and the intelligence of a router in one economical package.

    There are two basic types of Layer 3 switching: packet-by-packet Layer 3 (PPL3) and cut-through Layer 3.

    PPL3 switches are technically routers in that they examine all packets before forwarding them to their destinations. They achieve top speed by running protocols such as OSPF (Open Shortest Path First) and by using cache routing tables. Because these switches understand and take advantage of network topology, they can blow the doors off traditional routers with speeds of more than 7,000,000 (that’s seven million!) packets per second.

    Cut-through Layer 3 switching relies on a shortcut for top speed. Cut-through Layer 3 switches, rather than examining every packet, examine only the first in a series to determine its destination. Once the destination is known, the data flow is switched at Layer 2 to achieve high speeds. collapse


    Black Box Explains... G.703.

    G.703 is the ITU-T recommendation covering the 4-wire physical interface and digital signaling specification for transmission at 2.048 Mbps (E1). G.703 also includes specifications for U.S. 1.544-Mbps T1 but is... more/see it nowstill generally used to refer to the European 2.048-Mbps transmission interface. collapse


    Black Box Explains…Sizing a UPS

    The power delivered by a UPS is usually expressed both in volt-amps (VA) and watts. There’s often confusion about what the difference is between these figures and how to use... more/see it nowthem to select a UPS.

    VA is power voltage multiplied by amps. For instance, a device that draws 5 amps of 120-volt power has a VA of 600. Watts is a measure of the actual power used by the device. VA and watts may be the same. The formula for watts is often expressed as:

    Watts = Volts x Amps

    This formula would lead you to believe that a measurement of VA is equal to watts, and it’s true for DC power. AC power, however, can get complicated. Some AC devices have a VA that’s higher than watts. VA is the power a device seems to be consuming, while watts is the power it actually uses.

    This requires an adjustment called a power factor, which is the ratio of watts to VA.

    AC Watts = Volts x Amps x Power Factor

    Or:

    Watts/VA = Power Factor

    Simple AC devices, such as light bulbs, typically have a power factor of 100% (which may also be expressed as 1), meaning that watts are equal to VA like they are with DC devices. Computers have had a much lower power factor, traditionally in the 60–70% range. This meant that only part of the power going into the computer was being used to do useful work.

    Today, however, because of Energy Star requirements, virtually all computing devices are power factor corrected and have a power factor of more than 90%.

    Which brings us around to how to use this information to select a UPS. The capacity of a UPS is defined as both VA and watts. Both should be above the power requirements of the connected equipment.

    Because of the computers that had a low power factor, UPSs typically had a VA that was much higher than watts, for instance, 500 VA/300 watts. In this case, if you use the UPS with a power factor corrected device that requires 450 VA/400 watts, the UPS won’t provide enough wattage to support the device.

    Although UPSs intended for enterprise use now normally have a high power factor, consumer-grade UPSs still typically have a lower power factor—sometimes even under 60%. When using these UPSs, size them by watts, not VA, to ensure that they can support connected equipment.
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    Black Box Explains...How to maximize your wireless range.

    There are four simple rules that enable you to transmit wireless communications up to their maximum range:
    • Try to keep a direct line between the transmitter and receiver.
    • Minimize... more/see it nowthe number of walls and ceilings between the transmitter and receiver. Such obstructions reduce the range.
    • If there are obstructions, be sure the wireless signal passes through drywall or open doorways and not other materials.
    • Keep the transmitter and receiver at least 3 to 6 feet (0.9 to 1.8 m) away from electrical devices or appliances, especially those that generate extreme RF noise. collapse


    Black Box Explains...Microphone positioning.

    Proper microphone positioning is especially important to take advantage of noise canceling microphones, which reject background noise.

    For optimum performance, position the microphone one finger width away from your lower lip.

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