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North Carolina’s Research Triangle is acknowledged for solving mysteries, in particular technical ones. That’s what happens when three tier-one research universities – N . C . State University (NCSU), Duke, and also the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill – and cutting-edge tech companies like Fibers in stainless steel tube are within the triangle.

I ran across SEL while researching IEEE’s 802.3ba 40Gb/s and 100Gb/s Ethernet fiber-optic standard. Why was I putting myself through that? Well, before a long time every commercial data center in the world may have areas of its fiber-optic network migrated to 40Gb/s or 100Gb/s to be competitive business-wise. Finding the paper The Optical Fiber Ribbon Solution for your 10G to 40/100G Migration (PDF) published by SEL’s Bill Charuk, product manager, data center solutions, was especially fortuitous, because it answered several perplexing questions.

Ribbon-style cabling is needed because OM3 and OM4 – the only real multi-mode fibers contained in the 802.3ba standard – use parallel-optic transmission. Based on an article around the Cabling Installation & Maintenance site that means by design optical/electronic interfaces allow data to become transmitted and received over multiple fibers. It also means 40G Ethernet interfaces include four 10G channels on four fibers per direction, and 100G Ethernet interfaces use four 25G channels on Sheathing line per direction as shown in the diagram below.

Financial well being: parallel runs are employed to increase throughput bandwidth using either multiple fiber-optic cables or multiple fibers inside a ribbon cable. To the point of working with a ribbon cable over individual cables Charuk writes, “Using ribbons allow for easier connectorization (less chance to cross fibers in a MPO connector), dexkpky80 perhaps moreover, achieve easier polarization continuity no matter the polarity method selected for that system.”

“Ribbon cables are already employed in the telecom industry for more than 20 years,” writes Charuk. “They were exposed to boost the fiber density inside a given cable and also to reduce cable costs. Of particular importance is fiber density, as fiber counts surge in the info center, it is really an attractive feature.”

Fiber-optic ribbon cables appear like a logical choice. “The overall mix of ruggedness of the ribbon design, fiber density, size, and relative cost points to ribbon as being most suited to both new and retrofit installations in the data center,” concludes Charuk. “Additionally, the ribbons in SZ stranding line work best suitable for future expansion, considering that the transmission protocols progress to higher and higher data rates.”