Not so long ago, the most prevalent cabling in data centers
In some poorly planned data centers, ladder racks creaked
under the weight of copper cabling bundles, which mostly provided 1000BASE-T
links between servers and access switches located in other rows. In others, floor tiles couldn’t be properly
seated because of the burgeoning volume of copper cabling running under the
raised floor – made worse by the bad practice of installing new cabling on top
of the old cabling rather than removing it.
Advances in optoelectronics, and the need for speeds well
beyond the practical limits of copper have given rise to fiber cabling being
the dominant media in today’s data centers.
The latest Ethernet applications standard approved in the IEEE 802.3 committees
addressed speeds of 400Gb/s, which is more than an order of magnitude faster
than the upper bounds for copper at the standard 100 m distance.
CLICK TO TWEET: CommScope believes copper still has a big space in data centers.
In spite of this, copper still plays an essential role in
the data center. More importantly, there
continues to be innovations in copper cabling that make deployment and
time-to-service easier and faster.
One recent data center project is a perfect example of how
pre-terminated copper wiring harnesses significantly improved the time to
service – from eight hours to 10 minutes.
In this case, 10G server uplinks connected 2U “pizza box”
style servers to top-of-rack switches within a server cabinet. Improvements in 10GBASE-T transceiver
technology have significantly improved power, latency and cost – making this a
common application. Each of the 20
servers used five or more connections (two primary, two secondary and one
out-of-band management) – which meant that the server cabinet needed more than 100
Manually patching, one cord at a time, was very time
consuming and required slack storage for overlength. Labeling patched connections on site further
slows the process.
To speed up this process, a pre-terminated, color-coded
harness was created. Based on the
patching template, which provided the required five-cord break-out at each 2U
position, the harness could be easily secured in the server cabinet, making the
server connection very simple and fast.
And with the be-spoke design, additional rack space was not needed to
accommodate overlength, as there was none.
Further technology advances, such as reduced diameter copper
cords and cable, makes even better use of valuable space in cable management
and pathways. Data center speeds will no doubt continue to increase, and fiber optic
technology is well-suited to support it well into the terabit age; however,
copper will continue to have its place as the lowest cost solution for 10G and