Category 8: Delivering 25 and 40GBASE-T

Category 8 is the new copper twisted-pair structured cabling standard being developed within both the TIA and ISO groups to support the new 25 and 40GBASE-T standards being developed by the IEEE. Category 8 is going to have a few differences over prior Category 5e, 6, or 6A cabling, but will still retain the familiarity and features that make RJ45 copper the most widely deployed Ethernet technology on the market.

Cat 8 product

What is new with Category 8?

There are a few differences between Category 8 and prior categories that should be understood.

  • Shielded offering only (no unshielded option)
  • 30 meter reach (versus 100 meter reach for Category 5e, 6, and 6A)
  • Only 2 connectors allowed per channel (versus 4 for Category 5e, 6, and 6A)
  • 4 times the bandwidth of Category 6A, going all the way up to 2000 MHz

    Cat 8 2000 MHz

What is the same with Category 8?

While there are differences, a lot stays the same, as well.

  • Category 8 uses the same RJ45 interface as Category 5e, 6, and 6A, which makes it backwards compatible with 100BASE-T, 1000BASE-T, and 10GBASE-T systems
  • Category 8 will be field terminable and field testable once available product comes to market

What do these differences mean?

Because of the limited reach of 30 meters and 2 connectors, Category 8 is focused on data centers, particularly End of Row or Top of Rack deployments.

This means that as a data center manager, you should plan for:

  • A maximum jack-to-jack reach of 24 meters
  • Grounding the connectivity
  • A maximum of 6 meters of patch total

Latest Industry Developments

Panduit is the latest company to announce that our Category 8 system has been tested by Intertek (3rd party) and confirmed to meet the latest Category 8 TIA draft standard.

The Panduit system we tested was a 30-meter channel, with a 24-meter link and 6 meters of patch cords (3 meters on each end).

It is expected that the standard will be ratified by mid-2016, which is the earliest point where product will be available.

What should I do today?

Panduit strongly recommends against installing any Category 7 or 7A systems. These systems do not have the bandwidth (Category 7 is 600MHz, 7A is 1000MHz) to handle 25 or 40GBASE-T (need bandwidth over 1600MHz). Additionally, Category 7 and 7A do not use RJ45 connectors, so a hybrid patch cord would be required to interface to the equipment.

If you are deploying a cabling system now, Panduit recommends that you install and deploy Category 6A systems. They have the same RJ45 interface as the equipment and can run all current applications up to 10GBASE-T. If you are planning a layout to eventually accommodate Category 8, stick to a permanent link length of 24 meters or below with up to 6 meters of patch total.

Why Is My Cable Pathway Upside Down?

Upside Down Design Can Keep Your Installation Costs Right Side Up

 

One of the most common questions asked about the Wyr-Grid Overhead Cable Pathway System is “why is it upside down?”

WG30BL

The Wyr-Grid tray is “upside down” because the design is based on a strong wire mesh platform reinforced with 1-1/2” high wire mesh walls that are oriented downward giving the appearance of an up-side down wire mesh tray. While appearing unconventional, this design combines the best attributes of cable runway with the flexibility and utility of wire mesh pathways.

Continue reading

What Is Driving Adoption of High Density Fiber Enclosures?

Real estate is one of the primary reasons that high density fiber enclosures are deployed in the data center. In some parts of the world, real estate is very expensive. One way to save cap ex is to try to use the smallest data center possible. The smaller the data center, the less square area required, and therefore, lower cap ex. This would certainly be the case if one is using a co-lo facility. Of course, a smaller data center also means lower op ex, e.g., less cooling, etc.

Another reason, also driven by real estate, is that the data center’s size is fixed. The data center cannot be enlarged. This might be the situation in dense urban areas where a larger space does not exist. The only way to add more functionality to the data center is to try and find a way to cram in more equipment. Hence, using a high density fiber enclosure.

Another less obvious reason for using a high density fiber enclosure is the trend towards data centers becoming profit centers. Historically, data centers were perceived as a cost of doing business. Depending on the business you are in, that may no longer be the case.

Continue reading

Cabinets Are More Than Big Metal Boxes

How do cabinets impact operational costs?

This question is not asked enough by data center designers, owners or managers as they build-out new whitespace. Cabinets are the foundation of the data center’s physical infrastructure, used throughout the life cycle of the facility. IT equipment that runs the applications are contained within them, the cabling that connects the equipment to the users and the LAN/SANs are terminated and managed in them, power is distributed within them, and cooling is channeled through them. They are also the most visible infrastructure element, and how they look and fit together is often an indicator of how a data center is run and managed.

Why then are they frequently taken for granted, simply considered “big metal boxes”? Why isn’t there more emphasis on cabinets being considered an asset that helps reduce operational costs?

Continue reading

Adding New Physical Infrastructure: Part 2

Integrated Infrastructure: A New Approach

In Part 1 of “Adding New Physical Infrastructure” I reviewed three typical approaches taken by managers of small and mid-sized data centers to add new physical infrastructure: (1) build-it-yourself using in-house resources to design and integrate all elements of the infrastructure, (2) rely on a single supplier for design and integration, or (3) entrust multiple best-of-breed vendors to get it done.

We have a different take. As discussed in Part 1, you are likely to face significant risks and expense as you attempt to manage a wide range of technical details, complex project management issues, and multiple vendor relationships. Leveraging physical infrastructure expertise and partnerships with best of breed power and cooling suppliers, Panduit offers an Integrated Infrastructure approach that combines the benefits of both the single-source and best-of-breed approaches with the ease of managing a single supplier.

Continue reading

Adding a New Physical Infrastructure: Part 1

How do you build out a new data center physical infrastructure?

Under the best of circumstances, building out new data center capacity is complex, expensive, time consuming and fraught with risk. Experts, engineers and consultants are needed for everything from designing the building shell, planning power and cooling systems, to commissioning. These are just the major categories. Think about the expertise needed to manage all the details that cascade from them!

If you are responsible for a small to mid-sized data center you may be faced with doing more of this yourself given the available resources. Increased complexity makes it difficult to find and retain people who possess all the essential skills needed to design and integrate the power, cooling, racks, cabling and other components necessary to complete the build correctly, and on-time. Taking on the coordination of the build-out in addition to normal responsibilities can be overwhelming.

Continue reading

Incentives For Energy Consumption

I recently had the opportunity to discuss an application for a retrofit containment system installed into an existing data center with a sales person. Not an uncommon story, given the effectiveness of separating cold and hot air streams in the data center to reduce cooling energy consumption. The part of the story that stood out for me was that the sales person enthusiastically related how the end user realized an instant payback on the containment system and had money left over. It sounded too good to be true. My first thought was just how badly is this data center being operated that the retrofitting of a containment system would yield an instant payback and still have money left over???

Continue reading

DCIM for Small Data Centers

When it comes to running an efficient operation, small data centers have many of the same concerns and challenges as their larger counterparts. One of the greatest challenges that managers of small data centers have is that they typically have limited resources in terms of technology, staffing, and financial support.

This can leave a small data center more vulnerable to inefficiencies, inflexibility for growth, and the potential for system failures. One example we run into on a regular basis occurs when the manager of a legacy data center needs to obtain power consumption and environmental data as a result of a cost reduction initiative, or difficulty finding capacity for new applications. This typically occurs in data centers that are older, may have between 20 and 30 racks, and have grown, despite best intentions, in unintended ways.

Continue reading

Cisco Live 2014

This year’s Cisco Live , being held at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, promises to be another exciting event. As a Platinum Sponsor, Panduit will be exhibiting in booth #1521 and will be featuring our Intelligent Data Center Solutions, Enterprise Solutions and Industrial Automation Solutions.

We are particularly excited about Cisco’s Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) architecture that promises to deliver fast application provisioning and simplified operations. ACI networks will be built upon a flatter 2 tier network architecture that requires some new ways of thinking about how an optimal physical infrastructure should be built. Panduit has been working with Cisco to understand the differences between traditional three tier physical architectures and the ACI architecture, and will be presenting the “ACI Impact on Physical Infrastructure Design and Deployment” in the general session on Tuesday May, 20th at 2:00 p.m. PDT. Examples of cabinets configured with Spine/Leaf network topologies including Top of Rack (ToR), End of Rack (EoR) and Middle of Rack (MoR).

Continue reading

Rescue Stranded Data Center Capacity

Whether it is power, space, or cooling, stranded capacity can strangle your data center’s efficiency, blow-up your budget and put the brakes on new applications implementation.  We have encountered many approaches to freeing stranded capacity ranging from the expensive…redeployment or reconfiguration of devices, or adding power or cooling capacity in an operational data center, to the ones requiring lower investment…additional perforated floor tiles, fans, or “meat locker” curtains to help improve cooling capacity utilization.

Frequently, we are asked to help reclaim stranded data center capacity. One approach that is relatively low risk and economical is to improve the utilization of existing cooling capacity. Installing blanking panels and sealing gaps in the raised floor is typically our first recommendation. Fast, simple, and inexpensive to implement, it is typically a first step and may not provide the level of separation needed to concentrate cooling air to accommodate higher densities. The next step is hot or cold aisle containment.

Continue reading