Which Is the Best Cabling Choice for 10GbE Transmission?

March 30 [Wed], 2016, 10:53

Over the years, the data center infrastructures have witnessed the rapid Gigabit data rate growth from 100MB Ethernet to 1 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE), and to 10GbE to support the bandwidth-hungry and mission-critical applications. 10GbE simplifies the network infrastructure by consolidating multiple gigabit ports into a single 10gigabit connection, delivering great bandwidth to customers. It can greatly meet current and future input/output (I/O) demands.

In general, 10GbE interfaces options include CX4, SFP+ and 10GBASE-T. Each interface has its own strong points and shortcomings regarding the cost, power consumption, or distance reach. Which one is the best cabling choice for your 10GbE transmission? This text details these interfaces options respectively.

The Need for 10GbE

A variety of technological advancements and trends are driving the increasing need for 10GbE in the data center. While 1GbE connection is able to handle the bandwidth requirements of a single traffic type, they are incapable to support virtualized server-consolidation scenarios, or multiple traffic types during peak periods. 10GbE overcomes these 1Gb/s bandwidth limitations by providing greater bandwidth, reducing latency, freeing up precious rack space, and simplifying cabling infrastructure.


10GBASE-CX4 was an early standard for copper-based 10GbE deployments. The bulky weight, expensive cable and limited reach of 10GBASE-CX4 infrastructure keep it from being widely deployed. Besides,the CX4 connector is large in size, which not only prohibits higher switch port densities, but also holds more space and pathways.


10GBASE SFP+ solutions support both fiber optic cables and direct attach cables (DACs), both being a more flexible solution than CX4.

  • 10GBASE SFP+ Fiber Optic Cables 10GBASE-SR, 10GBASE-LR, 10GBASE-LRM are all specified to work through fiber optic cables, such as J9150A (shown below). Admittedly, they are great for latency and distance, but fibers are really expensive. Although they offer low power consumption, the project of laying fiber networks in data centers is limited due to the cost of the electronics largely.


  • 10GBASE SFP+ DAC DAC falls to direct attach copper cable and active optic cable (AOC). From one side, SFP+ DAC is a lower cost option alternative to fiber, with its distance reaching flexible in 1m, 2m, 3m, 5m (eg. SFP-H10GB-CU1-5M), 7m and so on. But on the other side, SFP+ DAC is not backward-compatible with the twisted-pair 1GbE broadly deployed throughout the data center, requiring the purchase of an adapter card and requires a new top of rack (ToR) switch topology, meaning a big change.


10GBASE-T, or IEEE 802.3an-2006, is a standard released in 2006 to provide 10Gbit/s connections over unshielded or shielded twisted pair cables with distances up to 100metres (330 ft). This cabling option solves the cabling and backward compatibility problems. Being backward-compatible with 1000BASE-T, 10GBASE-T can be deployed in existing 1GbE switch infrastructures in the data centers that are cabled with CAT6, CAT6A or above cabling.


Besides, 10GBASE-T allows extended reach without the need for a Top-of-Rack switch. Its flexibility and compatibility facilitates the transition from 1GbE to 10GbE. Additionally, the raw cost of cable itself is far less than either fiber optic cable or DAC cables.


With 10GbE technology becoming maturer and more reliable, 10GbE deployment will become pervasive. Keeping these cabling choices in mind, you can choose the best cabling solution for your project while considering cost, power consumption and distance reach at the same time. Fiberstore offers various fiber and copper cables, including SFP-H10GB-CU1-5M mentioned above. For more information about 10GbE cabling options, you can visit Fiberstore.

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