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  • LSZH Fiber Optic Cables Tutorial

    Since the 1970s, the wire and cable industry has been using low-smoke, low-halogen materials in a number of applications. The objective was to create a wire and cable jacketing that was not only flame retardant but also did not generate dense, obscuring smoke and toxic or corrosive gases. Several notable fires over the years (such as the King's Cross Fire that killed 32 people in London's underground subway in 1987) increased the awareness of the role that wire and cable jacketing plays in a fire and contributed to a greater adoption of Low-Smoke Zero-Halogen (LSZH) cables.

    With an increase in the amount of cable found in residential, commercial and industrial applications in recent years, there is a greater fuel load in the event of a fire. Wire and cable manufacturers responded by developing materials that had a high resistance to fire while maintaining performance. Low-smoke, zero-halogen compounds proved to be a key materials group that delivered enhanced fire protection performance. Today, LSZH cables are being used in applications beyond the traditional transit, shipboard, military and other confined-space applications. This tutorial is provided to help you learn more about the LSZH fiber optic cables.

    What is LSZH Fiber Optic Cable?

    LSZH Fiber Optic Cable is a kind of fiber optic cable of which the jacket and insulation material are made of special LSZH materials. When these cables come in contact with a flame very little smoke is produced making this product ideal for applications where many people are confined in a certain place (office buildings, train stations, airports, etc.). While a fire may be very harmful in a building, the smoke can cause more damage to people trying to locate exits and inhalation of smoke or gases.



    Fiber optic cable insulation and jacket made from LSZH materials are free of halogenated materials like Fluorine (F), Chlorine (Cl), Bromine (Br), Iodine (I) and Astatine (At), which are reported to be capable of being transformed into toxic and corrosive matter during combustion or decompositions in landfills.

    The most prominent characteristic of LSZH fiber optic cable is safety. LSZH fiber optic cables are used in public spaces like train and subway stations, airports, hospitals, boats and commercial buildings, where toxic fumes would present a danger in the event of a fire. Similarly, low-smoke property is also helpful. More people in fires die from smoke inhalation than any other cause. Using LSZH fiber optic cables which release low smoke and zero halogenated materials in these places would be really important to the safty of people.

    Applications of LSZH Fiber Optic Cables

    There is no doubt that the amount of fiber optic cables installed in buildings has been increasing as data communication proliferated. Central office telecommunication facilities were some of the first places that LSZH cables became common due to the large relative fuel load represented by wire and cable.

    Public Spaces like train stations, hospitals, school, high buidings and commercial centers where the pretection of people and equipment from toxic and corrosive gases is critical should apply LSZH fiber optic cable for the safty of people.

    Data Centers contain large amounts of cables, and are usually enclosed spaces with cooling systems that can potentially disperse combustion byproducts through a large area. In industrial facilities, the relative fuel load of cables will not be at the same level. Other materials burning may also contribute greater amounts of dangerous gases that outweigh the effect of the cables. There have been notable fires where cables burning contributed to corrosion (the Hinsdale Central Office fire is a famous example), but in some instances, better fire response techniques could have prevented this damage.

    Nuclear Industry is another area where LSZH cables have been and will be used in the future. Major cable manufacturers have been producing LSZH cables for nuclear facilities since the early 1990s. The expected construction of new nuclear plants in the U.S. in coming years will almost certainly involve some LSZH cable.

    One of the most important things to understand about LSZH fiber optic cable is that no two products are the same and that there are many factors that will define the suitability of the final product to its application. In fact, research done by a major pulling lubricant supplier tested 27 LSZH compounds and found a huge variation in physical properties. So even using material that meets the base requirements of one of the many specifications available may not result in the best material for the application. Understanding the goals, results and limits of these tests are key to finding the right product. In any case, the trend to consider environmental concerns with a greater weight relative to performance has increased and it can be generally stated that there is an enlarging market for fiber optic cables that can be demonstrated to be environmentally friendly.


    When selecting or designing a fiber optic cable for any application, the operating enviroments where the fiber optic cable will be used, whether extreme or not, must be considered along with availability, performance, and price, among other things. And when the safety of humans and the enviroment is a consideration, along with high-performance and capability, then LSZH fiber optic cables are what you must specify.

    Warm Tips: When choosing LSZH fiber optic cables, factors such as the environment and price should be considered. An environmental factor such as the temperature of the installation could reduce the flexibility of the cable. Will the application be in an open area or confined? Will other flammable material be present? LSZH fiber optic cables also tend to be higher in cost. 

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  • Feds get huge response to request for IoT input

    By Sean Kinney



    More than 100 companies suggest ways U.S. government can help advance the IoT

    Many industry watchers feel the U.S. is slipping behind other countries, particularly Germany and China, in creating a unified national strategy for development of the Internet of Things or IoT. But federal leaders, in the early stages of involvement, reached out to the telecom industry for guidance.

    Back in April the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, a part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, issued a “request for comments on the benefits, challenges and potential roles for the government in fostering the advancement of the Internet of Things.”

    Two months later and the call for comment has been met in spades with more than 130 filings coming from a broad swath of telecom interests including carriers like AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon and Vodafone; vendors including Nokia, Ericsson, Huawei and Samsung; and industry trade groups like the Wi-Fi Alliance, Wireless Infrastructure Association, the Open Connectivity Foundation and the GSMA.

    Here’s a full list of the respondents and their filings with NTIA. A review of some of the filings indicates a strong industry expectation that the rapid uptake of IoT will require global coordination and will likely create new markets while disrupting existing ones.

    Verizon representatives told NTIA: “To support this explosion of IoT devices, a robust and secure underlying communications network must serve as a foundation. That network requires both increased commercial spectrum and development of the underlying core infrastructure. We encourage all stakeholders to work together to ensure that these necessary building blocks for IoT development are available and accessible. To enable sufficient spectrum to power this new wave of connected innovation, private and public sectors must continue to cooperate, not only to develop more ways to effectively share spectrum, but also to provide federal users incentives to free up spectrum for commercial licensed and unlicensed use. As potentially billions of new IoT devices are deployed, they will drive data growth that – combined with the parallel growth in overall data usage by consumer devices – will require new commercial spectrum allocations to accommodate the unprecedented demands for more bandwidth. This includes spectrum necessary to support 5G, since 5G’s super-fast speeds and low latency will help facilitate new IoT use cases.”

    Ericsson commented: “In Ericsson’s view, 5G is the technology that will unleash the true potential of the Internet of Things. To support the IoT’s development, the government should unleash the resources that will ensure U.S. leadership in 5G by releasing more spectrum for commercial use. Through network slicing, 5G technology will allow a single infrastructure to meet the very different needs of Massive and Critical IoT devices – it will enable networks to handle the incredible increase in data from the billions of low energy, low data devices, while also providing very high reliability, availability and security for critical uses. We also encourage the government to support global standards and best practices and to allow industry to continue to innovate and coalesce around the most favorable IoT solutions.”

    And from the GSMA’s point of view: “The United States should forbear from regulating IoT and avoid reflexively extending legacy regulations designed for outdated technologies to the IoT…The U.S. government should support and promote industry alignment around interoperable, industry-led specifications and standards across the global IoT ecosystem…The U.S. government should promote the allocation of globally harmonized spectrum that can support IoT…The U.S. government should encourage industry to build trust into IoT devices. Existing laws and regulations, operating in tandem with self-regulatory regimes and best practices, will provide sufficient protection to consumers as the IoT develops…Finally, the U.S. government should engage on a bilateral and multilateral basis, as appropriate, to ensure that international IoT activities similarly encourage competition, investment, and innovation. Regulatory interference at this stage—from any source—could lead to fragmentation and impede innovation, inhibiting the IoT’s ability to reach its full potential to deliver benefits to consumers.”



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  • Polarization-Maintaining Fiber Tutorial

    Introduction to Polarization

    As light passes through a point in space, the direction and amplitude of the vibrating electric field traces out a path in time. A polarized lightwave signal is represented by electric and magnetic field vectors that lie at right angles to one another in a transverse plane (a plane perpendicular to the direction of travel). Polarization is defined in terms of the pattern traced out in the transverse plane by the electric field vector as a function of time.

    Polarization can be classified as linear, elliptical or circular, in them the linear polarization is the simplest. Whichever polarization can be a problem in the fiber optic transmission.

    FiberStore Polarization Coordinate System

    More and more telecommunication and fiber optic measuring systems refer to devices that analyse the interference of two optical waves. The information given by the interferences cannot be used unless the combined amplitude is stable in time, which means, that the waves are in the same state of polarization. In those cases it is necessary to use fibers that transmit a stable state of polarization. And polarization-maintaining fiber was developed to this problem. (The polarization-maintaining fiber will be called PM fiber for short in the following contents.)


    What Is PM Fiber?

    The polarization of light propagating in the fiber gradually changes in an uncontrolled (and wavelength-dependent) way, which also depends on any bending of the fiber and on its temperature. Specialised fibers are required to achieve optical performances, which are affected by the polarization of the light travelling through the fiber. Many systems such as fiber interferometers and sensors, fiber laser and electro-optic modulators, also suffer from Polarization-Dependent Loss (PDL) that can affect system performance. This problem can be fixed by using a specialty fiber so called PM Fiber.


    Principle of PM Fiber

    Provided that the polarization of light launched into the fiber is aligned with one of the birefringent axes, this polarization state will be preserved even if the fiber is bent. The physical principle behind this can be understood in terms of coherent mode coupling. The propagation constants of the two polarization modes are different due to the strong birefringence, so that the relative phase of such copropagating modes rapidly drifts away. Therefore, any disturbance along the fiber can effectively couple both modes only if it has a significant spatial Fourier component with a wavenumber which matches the difference of the propagation constants of the two polarization modes. If this difference is large enough, the usual disturbances in the fiber are too slowly varying to do effective mode coupling. Therefore, the principle of PM fiber is to make the difference large enough.

    In the most common optical fiber telecommunications applications, PM fiber is used to guide light in a linearly polarised state from one place to another. To achieve this result, several conditions must be met. Input light must be highly polarised to avoid launching both slow and fast axis modes, a condition in which the output polarization state is unpredictable.

    The electric field of the input light must be accurately aligned with a principal axis (the slow axis by industry convention) of the fiber for the same reason. If the PM fiber path cable consists of segments of fiber joined by fiber optic connectors or splices, rotational alignment of the mating fibers is critical. In addition, connectors must have been installed on the PM fibers in such a way that internal stresses do not cause the electric field to be projected onto the unintended axis of the fiber.


    Types of PM Fibers

    Circular PM Fibers

    It is possible to introduce circular-birefringence in a fiber so that the two orthogonally polarized modes of the fiber—the so called Circular PM fiber—are clockwise and counter-clockwise circularly polarized. The most common way to achieve circular-birefringence in a round (axially symmetrical) fiber is to twist it to produce a difference between the propagation constants of the clockwise and counterclockwise circularly polarized fundamental modes. Thus, these two circular polarization modes are decoupled. Also, it is possible to conceive externally applied stress whose direction varies azimuthally along the fiber length causing circular-birefringence in the fiber. If a fiber is twisted, a torsional stress is introduced and leads to optical-activity in proportion to the twist.

    Circular-birefringence can also be obtained by making the core of a fiber follows a helical path inside the cladding. This makes the propagating light, constrained to move along a helical path, experience an optical rotation. The birefringence achieved is only due to geometrical effects. Such fibers can operate as a single mode, and suffer high losses at high order modes.

    Circular PM fiber with Helical-core finds applications in sensing electric current through Faraday effect. The fibers have been fabricated from composite rod and tube preforms, where the helix is formed by spinning the preform during the fiber drawing process.


    Linear PM Fibers

    There are manily two types of linear PM fibers which are single-polarization type and birefringent fiber type. The single-polarization type is characterized by a large transmission loss difference between the two polarizations of the fundamental mode. And the birefringent fiber type is such that the propagation constants between the two polarizations of the fundamental mode are significantly different. Linear polarization may be maintained using various fiber designs which are reviewed next.

    Linear PM Fibers With Side Pits and Side Tunnels

    Side-pit fibers incorporate two pits of refractive index less than the cladding index, on each side of the central core. This type of fiber has a W-type index profile along the x-axis and a step-index profile along the y-axis. A side-tunnel fiber is a special case of side-pit structure. In these linear PM fibers, a geometrical anisotropy is introduced in the core to obtain a birefringent fibers.


    Linear PM Fibers With Stress Applied Parts

    An effective method of introducing high birefringence in optical fibers is through introducing an asymmetric stress with two-fold geometrical symmetry in the core of the fiber. The stress changes the refractive index of the core due to photoelastic effect, seen by the modes polarized along the principal axes of the fiber, and results in birefringence. The required stress is obtained by introducing two identical and isolated Stress Applied Parts (SAPs), positioned in the cladding region on opposite sides of the core. Therefore, no spurious mode is propagated through the SAPs, as long as the refractive index of the SAPs is less than or equal to that of the cladding.

    The most common shapes used for the SAPs are: bow-tie shape and circular shape. These fibers are respectively referred to as Bow-tie Fiber and PANDA Fiber. The cross sections of these two types of fibers are shown in the figure below. The modal birefringence introduced by these fibers represents both geometrical and stress-induced birefringences. In the case of a circular-core fiber, the geometrical birefringence is negligibly small. It has been shown that placing the SAPs close to the core improves the birefringence of these fibers, but they must be placed sufficiently close to the core so that the fiber loss is not increased especially that SAPs are doped with materials other than silica. The PANDA fiber has been improved further to achieve high modal birefringence, very low-loss and low cross-talk.

    PANDA Fiber and Bow-tie Fiber

    PANDA Fiber (left) and Bow-tie Fiber (right). The built-in stress elements made from a different type of glass are shown with a darker gray tone.

    Tips: At present the most popular PM fiber in the industry is the circular PANDA fiber. One advantage of PANDA fiber over most other PM fibers is that the fiber core size and numerical aperture is compatible with regular single mode fiber. This ensures minimum losses in devices using both types of fibers.


    Linear PM Fibers With Elliptical Structures

    The first proposal on practical low-loss single-polarization fiber was experimentally studied for three fiber structures: elliptical core, elliptical clad, and elliptical jacket fibers. Early research on elliptical-core fibers dealt with the computation of the polarization birefringence. In the first stage, propagation characteristics of rectangular dielectric waveguides were used to estimate birefringence of elliptical-core fibers. In the first experiment with PM fiber, a fiber having a dumbbell-shaped core was fabricated. The beat length can be reduced by increasing the core-cladding refractive index difference. However, the index difference cannot be increased too much due to practical limitations. Increasing the index difference increases the transmission loss, and splicing would become difficult because the core radius must be reduced. Typical values of birefringence for the elliptical core fiber are higher than elliptical clad fiber. However, losses were higher in the elliptical core than losses in the elliptical clad fibers.


    Linear PM Fibers With Refractive Index Modulation

    One way to increase the bandwidth of single-polarization fiber, which separates the cutoff wavelength of the two orthogonal fundamental modes, is by selecting a refractive-index profile which allows only one polarization state to be in cutoff. High birefringence was achieved by introducing an azimuthal modulation of the refractive index of the inner cladding in a three-layer elliptical fiber. A perturbation approach was employed to analyze the three-layer elliptical fiber, assuming a rectangular-core waveguide as the reference structure. Examination of birefringence in three-layer elliptical fibers demonstrated that a proper azimuthal modulation of the inner cladding index can increase the birefringence and extend the wavelength range for single-polarization operation.

    A refractive index profile is called Butterfly profile. It is an asymmetric W profile, consisting of a uniform core, surrounded by a cladding in which the profile has a maximum value of ncl and varies both radially and azimuthally, with maximum depression along the x-axis. This profile has two attributes to realize a single-mode single-polarization operation. First, the profile is not symmetric, which makes the propagation constants of the two orthogonal fundamental modes dissimilar, and secondly, the depression within the cladding ensures that each mode has a cutoff wavelength. The butterfly fiber is weakly guiding, thus modal fields and propagation constants can be determined from solutions of the scalar wave equation. The solutions involve trigonometric and Mathieu functions describing the transverse coordinates dependence in the core and cladding of the fiber. These functions are not orthogonal to one another which requires an infinite set of each to describe the modal fields in the different regions and satisfy the boundary conditions. The geometrical birefringence plots generated vs. the normalized frequency V showed that increasing the asymmetry through the depth of the refractive index depression along the x-axis increases the maximum value of the birefringence and the value of V at which this occurs. The peak value of birefringence is a characteristic of noncircular fibers. The modal birefringence can be increased by introducing anisotropy in the fiber which can be described by attributing different refractive-index profiles to the two polarizations of a mode. The geometric birefringence is smaller than the anisptropic birefringence. However, the depression in the cladding of the butterfly profile gives the two polarizations of fundamental mode cutoff wavelengths, which are separated by a wavelength window in which single-polarization single-mode operation is possible.


    Applications of PM Fibers

    PM fibers are applied in devices where the polarization state cannot be allowed to drift, e.g. as a result of temperature changes. Examples are fiber interferometers and certain fiber lasers. A disadvantage of using such fibers is that usually an exact alignment of the polarization direction is required, which makes production more cumbersome. Also, propagation losses are higher than for standard fiber, and not all kinds of fibers are easily obtained in polarization-preserving form.

    PM fibers are used in special applications, such as in fiber optic sensing, interferometry and quantum key distribution. They are also commonly used in telecommunications for the connection between a source laser and a modulator, since the modulator requires polarized light as input. They are rarely used for long-distance transmission, because PM fiber is expensive and has higher attenuation than single mode fiber.


    Requirments for Using PM Fibers

    Termination: When PM fibers are terminated with fiber connectors, it is very important that the stress rods line up with the connector, usually in line with the connector key.

    Splicing: PM fiber also requires a great deal of care when it is spliced. Not only the X, Y and Z alignment have to be perfect when the fiber is melted together, the rotational alignment must also be perfect, so that the stress rods align exactly.

    Another requirement is that the launch conditions at the optical fiber end face must be consistent with the direction of the transverse major axis of the fiber cross section.

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  • Migrate to a 40-Gbps Data Center with Cisco QSFP BiDi Technology

    What You Will Learn

    This document describes how the Cisco® 40-Gbps QSFP BiDi transceiver reduces overall costs and installation time for customers migrating data center aggregation links to 40-Gbps connections.

    As a result of data center consolidation, server virtualization, and new applications that require higher data transport rates, the data center network is shifting to 10 Gbps at the access layer and 40 Gbps at the aggregation layer. A broad portfolio of high-performance and high-density 10- and 40-Gbps Cisco Nexus® Family switches is available at attractive prices for this transition. However, to support 40-Gbps connectivity, data center architects are challenged by the need for a major upgrade of the cabling infrastructure, which can be too expensive or disruptive to allow data centers to quickly adopt and migrate to the 40-Gbps technology.

    Cisco solves this problem with innovative 40-Gbps Quad Small Form-Factor Pluggable (QSFP) bidirectional (BiDi) technology that allows reuse of existing 10-Gbps fiber infrastructure for 40-Gbps connections.

    Challenges with Existing 40-Gbps Transceivers

    Standard short-reach (SR) 10- and 40-Gbps transceivers use fundamentally different connectivity formats, requiring fiber cabling infrastructure to be redesigned and replaced. 10-Gbps SR transceivers operate over dual-fiber multimode fiber (MMF) with LC connectors, and 40-Gbps SR protocols, such as SR4 and CSR4, operate over MMF ribbon with MPO connectors. As a result, 40-Gbps MPO-based SR4 transceivers cannot reuse aggregation fiber infrastructure built for 10-Gbps connectivity.

    Connector type is not the only concern. Whereas 10-Gbps SR transceivers require 2 fiber strands per 10-Gbps link, 40-Gbps SR4 and CSR4 transceivers require a theoretical minimum of 8 fiber strands, and often 12 fiber strands in practice. The reason for this requirement is that 40-Gbps SR4 and CSR4 use 4 parallel fiber pairs (8 fiber strands) at 10-Gbps each for a total of 40-Gbps full duplex, as shown in Figure 1. However, both use MPO-12 connectors, which terminate 12-fiber ribbons. As a result, 4 fiber strands in each connection are unused and wasted.

    To economize trunk fiber in a structured cabling environment, a 2 x 3 MPO fiber conversion module could combine three SR4 links onto two 12-fiber ribbon cables. But even then the 40-Gbps SR4 trunk still uses 8 fiber strands per link compared to 2 fiber strands in the case of 10-Gbps SR.

    At best, the connector change and increased fiber density needed for SR4 require a significant cable plant upgrade, making it expensive and disruptive for customers to migrate from 10-Gbps connectivity to 40‑Gbps connectivity in their existing data centers.

    Figure 1.      Concept of Existing 40-Gbps Transceivers: Of the 12 Fiber Strands Terminated by MPO-12 Connectors, 8 Fiber Strands (4 Fiber Pairs) Carry Traffic and 4 Are Unused


    Solution with Cisco 40-Gbps QSFP BiDi Transceiver

    The Cisco QSFP BiDi transceiver, shown in Figure 2, transmits full-duplex 40-Gbps traffic over one dual-fiber LC-connector OM3 or OM4 MMF cable. It provides the capability to reuse 10-Gbps fiber infrastructure. In other words, it enables data center operators to upgrade to 40-Gbps connectivity without making any changes to the previous 10-Gbps fiber cable plant.

    Figure 2.      Cisco QSFP BiDi Transceiver (QSFP-40G-SR-BD)


    The Cisco QSFP BiDi transceiver has two 20-Gbps channels, each transmitted and received simultaneously over two wavelengths on a single MMF strand. The result is an aggregated duplex 40-Gbps link over a MMF duplex LC-terminated fiber cable. The connection can reach 100 meters on OM3 MMF or 150 meters on OM4 MMF, which is the same as 40-Gbps SR4. Figure 3 shows the technology concept of the Cisco QSFP BiDi transceiver.

    Most Cisco switching and routing products that support 40 Gigabit Ethernet interfaces support the Cisco QSFP BiDi transceiver. For a complete list of supporting products, refer to the Cisco 40 Gigabit Optical Transceiver product page at

    Figure 3.      Concept of Cisco QSFP BiDi Transceiver


    Savings with Cisco QSFP BiDi When Migrating from 10 Gbps to 40 Gbps

    This section presents two case studies that demonstrate the savings achieved by using Cisco QSFP BiDi technology for 40-Gbps connectivity in data center networks. The case studies show how Cisco QSFP BiDi technology can remove the cost barriers for migrating and expanding the existing 10-Gbps cabling footprint to 40-Gbps infrastructure to provide the higher data rate in the data center network.

    Case Study 1: 288 x 40-Gbps Connections with Unstructured Cabling

    In an unstructured cabling system, devices are connected directly with fiber cables. This direct-attachment design can be used to connect devices within short distances in a data center network. As shown in Figure 4, direct connection between two 40-Gbps devices can be provided by MMF cables with either QSFP SR4 or QSFP BiDi transceivers at two ends.

    Figure 4.      Direct 40-Gbps Connections


    The QSFP SR4 transceiver uses MPO-12 connectors, whereas Cisco QSFP BiDi uses LC connectors. Existing 10-Gbps connections commonly are MMF cables with LC connectors. Therefore, with QSFP SR4 transceivers, none of the existing 10-Gbps MMF cables can be reused because the connector types are different. Cisco QSFP BiDi allows cable reuse, resulting in zero-cost cabling migration from direct 10-Gbps connections to direct 40-Gbps connections.

    Table 1 summarizes the costs and savings of migration and new deployment of 288 direct connections. To migrate the existing 288 10-Gbps connections to 40-Gbps connections, Cisco QSFP BiDi does not require any new spending on cables. Therefore, in comparison to QSFP SR4 transceivers, Cisco QSFP BiDi transceivers reduce costs by 100 percent and provide savings of up to US$290 per 40-Gbps port.

    Table 1.       Fiber Infrastructure Savings for 10-Gbps to 40-Gbps Direct-Cabling Migration and New 40-Gbps Deployment

    Fiber Cable Infrastructure Cost and Savings with BiDi* (US$)




    288 LC-connector dual-fiber MMF cables for Cisco BiDi




    288 MPO-connector ribbon-fiber MMF cables for SR4




    10-Gbps to 40-Gbps migration

    Total savings (US$)




    Per port savings (US$)




    Savings (percent)




    New 40-Gbps deployment

    Total savings (US$)




    Per-port savings (US$)




    Savings (percent)




    * This example is based on real-world cable cost estimates. The transceiver cost is not included.

    For the case in which 288 new direct 40-Gbps connections are needed in addition to the existing cabling infrastructure for a data center migration or expansion, the savings for 288 new connections using Cisco QSFP BiDi instead of QSFP SR4 transceivers is as high as 77 percent and US$221 per 40-Gbps port. These numbers do not take into account the installation costs. Adding installation costs could easily double the SR4 deployment costs.

    Case Study 2: 384 x 40-Gbps Connections with Structured Cabling

    A structured cabling system is commonly deployed in data center networks to provide flexible and scalable cabling infrastructure. Structured cabling uses short patch cords to attach devices to a patch panel and then runs fiber trunks either to consolidate the cables in a central location for additional connectivity or to direct them to another patch panel to which the remote devices are attached. Figure 5 shows a simple example of a 10-Gbps structured cabling design.

    Figure 5.      Simple Example of 10-Gbps Structured Cabling


    For migration of a data center with a structured 10-Gbps cabling system, Cisco QSFP BiDi technology allows you to repurpose the existing cabling system - including the patch cables, patch panels with MTP/MPO LC modules, and fiber trunks - for 40-Gbps connectivity. In contrast, QSFP SR4 transceivers require new patch cables and patch panels because the connector types differ and the size of the fiber trunk needs to be quadrupled.

    This case study examines a simple nonblocking two-tier fabric design (Figure 6) that provides 1536 10-Gbps edge ports on its leaf layer. Its spine layer is composed of two Cisco Nexus 9508 Switches, and its leaf layer consists of 32 Cisco Nexus 9396PX Switches, each with six 40-Gbps links to every spine Cisco Nexus 9508. There are 384 40-Gbps links total between the leaf and spine layers.

    Figure 6.      Two-Tier Network Example


    If 384 x 10-Gbps connections are to be reused to construct this network, no additional spending on cabling will be needed if Cisco QSFP BiDi transceivers are used for all the 40-Gbps links. This scenario thus offers a 100 percent cost savings compared to the cost of reconstructing the cabling system using QSFP SR4 transceivers, including the cost of new patch cables, new patch panels, and expansion of the current fiber trunk.

    If the cabling for this network is a new (greenfield) deployment or an expansion of an existing cabling system, the 384 x 40-Gbps connections can be built by using MMF cables and either QSFP SR4 transceivers or Cisco QSFP BiDi transceivers. Figures 7 and 8 show design examples for each option. Table 2 compares real-world cost estimates for these two designs. The design with Cisco QSFP BiDi offers 77 percent savings over that with QSFP SR4 transceivers, which is equivalent to a savings of US$2077 per 40-Gbps connection.

    Figure 7.      Structured 40-Gbps Cabling with QSFP SR4 Transceivers


    Table 2.       Structured 40-Gbps Cable Infrastructure Cost Comparison

    Structured 40-Gbps Cable Infrastructure Cost Savings with BiDi Technology (US$)


    Unit Price* (US$)


    Total (US$)

    90m 12-fiber MPO-MPO trunk cable (3 SR links per 2 cables)


    384 x (2/3)


    12-fiber MPO-MPO 2x3 conversion module (3 SR links per module, both ends)


    384 x (1/3) X 2


    12-fiber MPO jumper (1 per link, both ends)


    384 x 2


    SR total




    90m 12-fiber MPO-MPO trunk cable (6 BiDi links per cable)


    384 x (1/6)


    12-fiber MPO-LC trunk module (6 BiDi links per module, both ends)


    384 x (1/6)


    12-fiber LC jumper (1 per link, both ends)


    384 x 2


    BiDi total




    Total savings




    Percentage savings




    *Based on manufacturer’s list price
    Figure 8.      Structured 40-Gbps Cabling with Cisco QSFP BiDi Transceivers



    Cisco QSFP BiDi technology removes 40-Gbps cabling cost barriers for migration from 10-Gbps to 40-Gbps connectivity in data center networks. Cisco QSFP BiDi transceivers provide 40-Gbps connectivity with immense savings and simplicity compared to other 40-Gbps QSFP transceivers. The Cisco QSFP BiDi transceiver allows organizations to migrate the existing 10-Gbps cabling infrastructure to 40 Gbps at no cost and to expand the infrastructure with low capital investment. Together with Cisco Nexus 9000 Series Switches, which introduce attractive pricing for networking devices, Cisco QSFP BiDi technology provides a cost-effective solution for migration from 10-Gbps to 40-Gbps infrastructure.

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  • Straight-through, Crossover, and Rollover Wiring

    When talking about cable pinouts we often get questions as to the difference in Straight-through, Crossover, and Rollover wiring of cables and the intended use for each type of cable. These terms are referring to the way the cables are wired (which pin on one end is connected to which pin on the other end). Below we will try shed some light on this commonly confused subject.


    Straight-Through Wired Cables

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