MPO/MTP® Assemblies – the Game Changer of Data Center Cabling

Posted on by FS.COM

GbE solutionWe know that animals take great migrations in order to pursue the better living environment. Similary, people will make some changes to satisfy their increasing demands of life. With the arrival of big-data age, data centers regularly undertake their own great migration, to ever-higher-speed networks, e.g. the 40/100G Fast Ethernet. However, the data center demand is rising fast, especially the costs of your data center’s floor space, operation and cooling. These factors limits the expansion of the data centers. Thus, high-density data center is becoming the direction of the next generation data center. Parallel optics technology has become the transmission option of choice in many data centres as it is able to support 10G, 40G, and 100G transmission. For parallel optics to work effectively, it requires the right choice of cable and connector. It is no doubt that fiber optic cable is the main choice for data center cabling as it can provide numerous advantages over twisted-pair copper in a data center environment that allow network designers to benefit from new data center architectures. But, about the connector, do you know which type of connector will be selected to used for high-density data center interconnection? The answer is the MPO/MTP® connector, because the MPO/MTP® technology with multi-fiber connectors offers ideal conditions for setting up high-performance data networks in data centers to handle future requirements. This paper is going to introduce the MPO/MTP® connector and discuss why it is usually called the game changer of data center cabling.

You may be very familiar with the LC, SC, FC and so on but confused with the MPO/MTP® connector. Why do we usually call this type of connector as MPO/MTP®? Obviously, MPO/MTP® include two layer meaning, namely MPO connector and MTP® connector. MPO is the industry acronym for “multi-fiber push on.” The MPO-style connectors are most commonly defined by two different documents: IEC-61754-7 and EIA/TIA-604-5 (also known as FOCIS 5). IEC-61754-7 is the commonly sited standard for MPO connectors internationally and EIA/TIA-604-5 is the most common standard sited for in the US. The MTP® connector is a registered trademark and design of UsConnec. It is also a kind of MPO connector but with a higher performance which provides some advantages over a generic MPO connector. Compared to generic MPO connector, MTP® is designed with multiple engineered product enhancements to improve optical and mechanical performance. The MTP® connector is in complete compliance with all MPO connector standards including the EIA/TIA-604-5 FOCIS 5 and the IEC-61754-7. The MTP® connector is inter-matable with all generic MPO-style connectors that are compliant to these industry standards. Generic MPO connectors are limited in performance and are not able to offer the high performance levels of the MTP® connector. The comparison of MPO and MTP® is shown in Figure 1.

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Figure 1. Comparison of MPO and MTP®

So, why we say that MPO/MTP® will change the game of data center cabling? We would like to have a review of the evolution of fiber optic connectors here to help you further understand the reason. Actually, in the optical communication industry, the development of fiber optic connectors are more abundant than the coppers’. It is said that there are about hundreds of fiber optic connectors launched in the market, but only a few of them are widely used in the practical cabling. Throughout the development of fiber optic connectors, there are two significant stages. In the first stage, the connectors have been developed towards to the miniaturization for saving more space. The traditional types of fiber optic connectors, such as FC, ST and SC have been developed to LC, MTRJ and E2000. In addition to saving more space, it is also required to satisfy the demands of the use of multi-core fibers, in order to achieve the higher-speed interconnection. Types of fiber optic connectors are developed from LC, MTRJ and E2000 to MU or MPO/MTP® in the second stage. Nowadays, a MPO/MTP® connector can support 2, 4, 8, 12 or 24 fibers, and even up to 72 fibers in the tiniest of spaces. But among these configurations, it is widely available in 12- and 24-fiber variants. This transformation undoubtedly brings the benefits for high-density data center cabling and meets the requirements of space saving and high-speed transmission. See Figure 2, it clearly displays the two stages of fiber optic connectors evolution.


Figure 2. The evolution of fiber optic connectors

Coming back to the reality, the higher-speed transmission modes, 40 GbE and 100 GbE, drive the data center to run at a high-density and cost-effective style. Thus, parallel optics technology is considered as an ideal choice for transmission, because it can support 10G, 40G, and 100G transmission. The IEEE 802.3ba 40G / 100G Ethernet standard provides guidance for 40G / 100G transmission with multimode fiber. Only the laser optimized multimode fiber (grades OM3 and OM4) are capable of supporting 40G and 100G Ethernet. Parallel optical channels with multi-fiber multi-mode optical fibers of the OM3 and OM4 are used for implementing 40 GbE and 100 GbE. The small diameter of the optical fibers poses no problems in laying the lines, but the ports suddenly have to accommodate four or even ten times the number of connectors. This large number of connectors can no longer be covered with conventional individual connectors. That is why the 802.3ba standard incorporated the MPO multi-fiber connector for 40GBASE-SR4 and 100GBASE-SR10.

In general 40/100 GbE applications, 12-fiber and 24-fiber MPO/MTP® connectors are widely used. For 40 GbE, a 12-fiber MPO/MTP® connector is used. Because only 8 optical fibers are required, typical 40 GbE applications use only the 4 left and 4 right optical fibers of the 12-fiber MPO connector, while the inner 4 optical fibers are left unused as shown in Figure 3 (a). And for 100 GbE, there are usually two methods. One is to use two 12-fiber MPO/MTP® connectors — one transmitting 10 Gbps on 10 fibers and the other receiving 10 Gbps on 10 fibers. And the other one is to use the 24-fiber MPO/MTP®. The latter is considered as a recommended method for nowaday 100 GbE application. The 100 GbE application use 20 fibers in the middle of the 24-fiber MPO/MTP® connector transmitting and receiving at 10 Gbps and the 2 top and bottom fibers on the left and right unused as shown in Figure 3 (b). In fact, the 24-fiber MPO/MTP® connector may have broader application prospects, because it can realize the seamless upgrade from 10, 40 and up to 100 GbE. For instance, for 40 GbE application, only 8 fibers are used for transmission. If we use a 12-fiber MPO/MTP® patch cable, there are 4 fibers wasted. However, 24-fiber MPO/MTP® patch cable can upgrade 40 GbE with the 1:3 configuration. It is more cost-effective and can save more space.


Figure 3. 12-fiber MPO/MTP® (a) vs 24-fiber MPO/MTP® (b)

The increasing demands of bandwidth and high speed drive the emergence of 40/100 GbE, and even up to higher in the future. And the high-speed transmission requires high-density data center as the increasing created data need amount of cables and devices which take a lot of space and cost. Optical fiber cabling is commonly deployed for backbone cabling in data centers for switch to switch connections and also for horizontal cabling for switch to server and storage area network connections.. Just like a food chain, they are connected and influenced each other. With increasing concerns about the cost to upgrade and the complexity involved, data center managers need a solution that simplifies the process and provides better return on investment, while meeting both current and future current needs. Migrating from 10 GbE (that uses two fibers in either a SC Duplex or a LC Duplex connector) to 40 GbE and 100 GbE will require a lot more fibers and a different type of connector. In this case, it is no doubt that the laser optimized multimode fiber (OM3 and OM4) with MPO/MTP® connector is one of a cost-effective solution for the migration of data center. MPO/MTP® connectors provide a smooth transition to the higher Ethernet speeds with minimum disruption and without wholesale replacement of existing cabling and connectivity components. This is why we say that “MPO/MTP® assemblies – the Game Changer of Data Center Cabling”.

As a leading and professional manufacturer and supplier in fiber optic communication industry, Fiberstore offers a comprehensive line of high-quality products and solutions for your data center migration. MPO/MTP® connectors and fiber cables as the important part of the multi-fiber connection system, are designed for the reliable and quick operations in Data Centers. We offer a wide range of MPO/MTP® cable assemblies including Trunk Cables, Harness Cables and Cassettes (or Patch Panels). All the assemblies are fully compliant with IEC Standards 61754-7 and TIA 604-5. Futhermore, customized service such as optional fiber counts, cable types and lengths etc. are available. Recently, Fiberstore has started a promotion of the in-stock MTP fiber patch cables. During this promotion, you can save 10% and enjoy same-day shipping on the specified MTP fiber patch cables. For more information, please visit our webstie or contact us directly.

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