Fiber’s Dicey Future: The Long and the Short of IT

fibre-opticsWith an explosion of connected devices, there is no shortage of data being transmitted and stored via optical networking in the data center. However it’s not just the amount of data—it’s also how that data is being used. And that can be summed up with one word – sharing.   Ever-growing data sets are being shared across multiple vendor applications. In the massive high-density virtualized environments of cloud computing, this is driving more east-west server traffic. As the age of the “Internet of Things” come to fruition, the I/O portion of the equation will evolve like never before.   With all this change on the horizon, what does this mean for the cabling infrastructure inside the data center? Should it be all singlemode or is OM4 multimode the best bet? Read more »

Real-World Fiber Networks: Getting A Handle on Key Considerations

May29_webinar_1If you’re a regular Belden data center blog follower, you’ve probably seen several blogs in the past year that cover several of the key considerations for designing, deploying and testing today’s low-loss fiber networks.

We’ve covered everything from standards, connector types and loss values, to polarity, best testing methods and optimum multi-point topologies.

The good news is that I will be bringing all of these considerations together and covering each in much greater detail in my upcoming June 10th webinar, “Cabling the Hyper Data Center: Designing, Deploying and Testing Today’s Los-Loss Fiber Networks.”

Following are some of the key highlights:

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A Broad Brush

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I was talking to a friend of Belden’s at a recent trade show. We were discussing using Category cable for audio, something we have discussed at great length in this blog. “I never use that cable for audio,” said the customer.

“Why not?” I asked.

“Well, all the install Cat 5e or 6 or 6a is solid conductor,” he replied. “And we all know that solid conductors break.”

He was especially insistent that those solid conductors, when soldered into an XLR, often break. This is called ‘work hardening’. Do you believe that?  If you do, it probably means that you’ve been using some very cheap cable, because wires that break are not annealed correctly. One of the things you get with good quality cable and good quality manufacturing is annealing. Annealing is a process where the conductor is put into a hot oven to let the molecules come in contact with each other after the drawing process (big wire drawn into smaller wire), but not hot enough to melt the copper. Cheaply made cable sometimes rushes this process or does not anneal at all, creating a brittle wire that will break with just a few flexes. Everyone remembers bell wire from the hardware store. Probably not annealed at all.

Belden’s solid wire, with high-quality annealing, is a different story. I remember when we first came out with MediaTwist (Belden 1872A). This is four pairs of solid wires. At tradeshows, we ran a contest to see if attendees could get the signal running down the cable to stop in one minute. The winner would receive a CD player (or something like that). Attendees became very frustrated because they could not break this cable in one minute no matter how they mangled or flexed the cable. How many flexes was that? Probably a few hundred. I remember some people concentrated on one place on the cable and flexed it as many times as they could. No luck. Some very strong guy finally managed to step on the cable and pull it so hard he broke the cable. The pull strength of this cable is 45 lbs., which means the breaking strength is around 112 lbs. One other person tried to bite it. So we changed future shows to “hands only” (no feet, no teeth).

So how many flexes? When we test for flex-life, we do it in something called a C-track tester, which is the kind of bending you would see in a factory. With this testing equipment, cable will last around 2,000 flexes. In the hands of crazy customers? Hard to say. But if you’re worried about solid conductors breaking, it just depends on how much you paid for the stuff.

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