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Cabling For Data Centers

AC/DC power, ground, copper and fiber optic are the main types of network cabling used in data centers. The interface that is available on the equipment used in the data center is the primary means for determining which type of cabling should be used. The network data cabling may also be selected based upon the bandwidth requirements of the equipment being used in the data center.

Cabling within a data center may be either structured or unstructured. Structured cabling uses predefined standards based design with predefined connection points and pathways. The cabling used in a structured wiring design is specified by the bandwidth requirements of the system and is tested to ensure proper performance. The cables used in a structured wiring system will be well organized and labeled. Although a structured cabling system may take longer to install and have a higher initial cost, the operational cost will ultimately be lower and the life cycle of the system will be longer when compared to an unstructured system.

Unstructured, also known as Point to Point, cabling systems do not use predefined standards, connection points, or pathways. This type of cabling system can lead to cooling issues because the airflow is typically restricted. This may also lead to higher energy cost. Additionally, managing system growth becomes difficult because the there is no plan to change cable locations or run new cabling. An unstructured cabling system is inherently unreliable and may result in extended down time. Although an unstructured cabling system may take less time to install and have a lower initial cost, the operational cost will be higher and the life cycle will be shorter when compared to a structured system.

Structured Wiring

Structured Wiring

Unstructured Wiring

Unstructured Wiring

Overview of Data Center Cabling Types

Communication Standard Application Cable Type Connector Type
10/100Mbps (100Base-TX) Ethernet Cat 5e, Cat 6, Cat 6a, Cat7, Cat 7a RJ45
1000Mbps (Gigabit or 1000Base-T) Gigabit Ethernet Cat 5e, Cat 6, Cat 6a, Cat7, Cat 7a RJ45
10Gbps (10GBase-T) 10Gig Ethernet Cat 6a, Cat7, Cat7a RJ45, GG45, TERA
40 or 100Gbps 40 or 100Gig Ethernet Cat7a GG45, TERA
Fiber Channel High Speed Ethernet Twinaxial or Fiber Infiniband, QSFP, SFP+, 10G - CX4, LC, SC, ST
Fiber Optic High-Speed Ethernet Multimode (High-bandwidth, Short Distance)
Single Mode (High-speed, Long Distance)

Connector Renderings

RJ45 Connector


LC Connector


GG45 Connector


SC Connector


ST Connector


10G-CX4 Connector


InfiniBand Connector


FDDI Connector


QSFP Connector


MTP Connector


SFP+ Connector


MTRJ Connector


This white paper is for informational purposes only and is subject to change without notice. C2G makes no guarantees, either expressed or implied, concerning the accuracy, completeness or reliability of the information found in this document.