Today, the Ethernet cabling system market is dominated by 10G links. Although fiber optic cables become popular with the advantages of high data transmission rate and low latency, many IT departments still use copper cabling for switch-to-switch or switch-to-server connections in 10G Ethernet applications. As one major copper cabling technology applied for 10GbE, 10GBASE-T was released by IEEE 802.3an in 2006 which specifies 10Gbps data transmission over four-pair copper cabling. Then, how much do you know about it? This article will guide you to understand 10GBASE-T in depth from five aspects—reach, backward compatibility, power consumption, latency and cost.
10GBASE-T is able to reach transmission distances up to 100 meters, and Cat6, Cat6a, Cat7, these three types of copper cables are commonly used with the 10GBASE-T standard. Cat6 bulk cable can perform at the bandwidth of up to 250 MHz, but it may reach only 55 meters at the speed of 10Gbps and 33 meters in high crosstalk conditions; Cat6a bulk cable is defined at frequencies up to 500MHz, and it can support the transmission distance over 100 meters at the speed of 10Gbps; Cat7 bulk cable can deliver 10G performance up to 600 MHz and at a distance of up to 100 meters. Here is a figure of a roll of cat6 cable.
We know that Cat6 bulk cable, Cat6a bulk cable and Cat7 bulk cable are backward compatible with the Cat5 and Cat5e bulk cable standards, so these three types of cables can also be used for 10BASE-T, 100BASE-T and 1000BASE-T applications, though a little overqualified. Moreover, 10GBASE-T is backward compatible with 1000BAE-T. Therefore, 10GBASE-T can be deployed in preceding 1GbE switch infrastructures in data centers that are cabled with Cat6, Cat6a or Cat7 cabling. This enables data center managers to save costs while upgrading the network to 10GbE.
According to the study, the early physical layer interface chips (PHYs) consumed too much power for widespread adoption. The original gigabit chips were roughly 6.5 Warts per port. With the process of improvements, the chips are now under 1 Wart per port. In addition, the PHYs benefit a lot from the latest manufacturing processes in 10GBASE-T. And the technology will continue to reduce the power consumption of PHYs.
Depending on Ethernet packet size, the latency for 1000BASE-T ranges from below 1μs to over 12μs, while 10GBASE-T’s latency ranges from just 1μs to less than 4μs—a much tighten latency range. And with a larger packet size, 10GBASE-T’s overall throughput offers an advantage over 1000BASE-T, and the latency for 10GBASE-T is more than three times lower than that of 1000BASE-T. The 1μs latency of 10GBASE-T is of no consequence to most users. Only the most latent-sensitive applications such as High Performance Computer (HPC) or high frequency trading systems would be affected by normal 10GbE latency.
As for cost, copper cables are cheaper, which is one reason for their wide applications. Take cables of FS.COM for example, Cat6 cable 1000 ft is about US$ 130.00; Cat6a cable 1000 ft is about US$ 180.00; Cat7 cable 305m is about US$ 600.00. Though 10G SFP+ DAC Twinax Cable is about US$ 42.00, from the perspective of structured cabling, it has a limited distance (up to 10m), and is not as flexible or cost-effective as 10GBASE-T.
From the above content, we can learn that 10GBASE-T offers the lowest cost media, and is backward compatible with preceding 1GbE networks. It can not only satisfy the increased bandwidth needs, but also greatly simplify the network and lower power consumption by replacing multiple gigabit connections with a single or dual-port 10GbE connection. Hence, it is an idea choice for 10G Ethernet copper cabling. And I hope after reading this article, you can have a better understanding on 10GBASE-T.