Friday, August 27, 2010

Fiber vs. Copper in the Data Center

by Lisa Huff

Fiber proponents have been saying that the end of copper is near for decades now, only to be proven wrong time and time again. And, at 10G, some were so bold as to say that copper will die because it burns too much power. Well, I listened to their argument that at 8 to 14W per port, copper just won’t cut it. But, now that the 10GBASE-T chip manufacturers have reduced their power consumption to less than 3W per port, 10GBASE-T is a viable data center networking solution. Actually, even at 14W per port, it was viable, just not practical for switch manufacturers to incorporate in their designs because they couldn’t get the port density they needed due to cooling issues. Now, that doesn’t seem to be an issue, evidenced by 24-port configurations that have been released by all the major players.

What this means is that twisted-pair copper will have its place in data center networks for many years to come – especially based on our recent cost analysis detailed in our new report Data Center Cabling Cost Analysis - Copper Still Has Its Place. It compares 10GBASE-SR to 10GBASE-T and includes analysis on the higher power consumption. This report is the first in a series for our Data Center Network Operator service.

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