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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.
Structured Wiring

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 Wiring

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.

Overview of Data Center Cabling Types

Communication StandardApplicationCable TypeConnector Type
10/100Mbps (100Base-TX)EthernetCat 5e, Cat 6, Cat 6a, Cat7, Cat 7aRJ45
1000Mbps (Gigabit or 1000Base-T)Gigabit EthernetCat 5e, Cat 6, Cat 6a, Cat7, Cat 7aRJ45
10Gbps (10GBase-T)10Gig EthernetCat 6a, Cat7, Cat7aRJ45, GG45, TERA
40 or 100Gbps40 or 100Gig EthernetCat7aGG45, TERA
Fiber ChannelHigh Speed EthernetTwinaxial or FiberInfiniband, QSFP, SFP+, 10G - CX4, LC, SC, ST
Fiber OpticHigh-Speed EthernetMultimode (High-bandwidth, Short Distance)
Single Mode (High-speed, Long Distance)

Connector Renderings

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.