10GE: Packing A Punch

VoicenData Bureau
New Update

You may refuse it now, but you can't ignore it forever. While many seem to

be saying, “I'll never need 10 Gbits/sec to the desktop,” it's wiser to

beware of the future and learn from the past. 10 Gigabit Ethernet or 10GE is

reckoned as the sole answer to the call for greater bandwidth network capacity.

10GE technology transmits at data rates of 10 Gb per second, which effectively

is 10 times faster than the current Gigabit Ethernet standard-on traditional

twisted pair copper wiring.


The recent ratification of the next-generation of Ethernet technology - IEEE

802.3an-2006 standard, otherwise known as 10GBase-T, is likely to

accelerate the implementation of 10GE.

So far users get only around 180 feet (55 meters) of reach using Cat6

cabling, and only around 150 feet (or 45 meters) of reach over Cat5e, which is

one of the more widely installed network cabling types in corporate nets. On the

other hand, 10GBase-T will reach the maximum distance easily over Category 7

(Cat7) and Category 6-Augmented (Cat6A) UTP cabling.

In India, the industry has come alive especially in the past one year with

several launches of 10GE over copper solutions. A handful of cabling companies

are already offering end-to-end 10GE cabling solution (CAT6A UTP, and CAT 7

solutions) while others are gearing up to launch their respective solutions by

end of the year.


a Glance: 10GE in India
  • End-to-end 10GE

    cabling solutions available for Cat6a and Cat7

  • Favorite among

    large data centers of ITeS, BFSI verticals, and enterprise campuses

  • Issues like high

    cost, high power dissipation, and user manageability make it difficult

    for IT managers to roll out 10 GE connections using existing


  • Cost of

    installation of Cat6A or Cat7 is 50-70% more than Cat5e and Cat6

  • Technology issue

    like Alien Crosstalk in unshielded pair, is a major concern

  • 10Gbase-T standard

    determines stringent specifications for proper deployments that maybe

    difficult or time consuming to implement

Cat6A Shifts Gear

Cat6a has emerged as the new flavor in the structured cabling market that is

capable of supporting huge data centers hungry for bandwidth. “Cat6a UTP

cabling systems supporting 10Gigabit Ethernet will be the major focus area for

the cabling industry players. The structured cabling market has already accepted

this technology with quite a few 10G Base-T installations as the customers want

to future-proof their networks,” says Dileep Kumar, enterprise product

manager, ADC Krone, echoing the voice of several other vendors. The company was

the first cabling company to launch CopperTen in India, the world's first 10GE

cabling on UTP.

Cat7 on the other hand is still waiting in the wings and a handful of

deployments have also taken place. Not to miss, the growing popularity of

wireless technology has also served to boost the demand for a wired

infrastructure to underpin it.


Building Long-life Networks

In the past, 10GbE was neither necessary nor affordable. However, high

demand of bandwidth has led to an increased demand for higher speed switches and

routers. This has a multiplier effect on the wired LAN market, and, in turn, on

the structured cabling segment.

Today many companies are seeking to “future proof” their network to

ensure they can support emerging technologies and preserve their initial

investments. In this regard, argument to deploy 10GE cabling systems is strong

keeping in mind cost associated in re-cabling a network.


Why opt for 10

Gigabit Ethernet?

10GE is an ideal solution for organizations with growing bandwidth

needs. It provides organizations with a cost effective solution to

increase productivity and to deliver new services.

What are the key

application environments that 10GE would help support?

The primary applications environments that 10 GE would help support

would be the data center environments and environments containing

structured copper cabling. 10 GbE is being deployed at desktops, server

farms, data centers, in video streaming to the desktop, aggregations

between server farm and service provider data centers, data center

communication, from LAN switches to storage networks, and grid computing.

What challenges does

the technology face?

Alien Crosstalk is the main electrical parameter limiting 10 GE

performance over an unshielded twisted pair copper structured cabling

system. Alien Crosstalk is a coupled signal in a disturbed pair arising

from a signal in a neighboring cable. Today's digital signal processing

(DSP) electronics are not as effective in canceling Alien Crosstalk as

they are for internal channel noise.


Peter Karlsson, senior VP, enterprise solutions, CommScope Systimax Solutions

asserts this forward planning: “Choosing a cabling solution is a very

strategically important decision for

any company as it is a one-time investment. For enterprise customers, we suggest

it is better to go for a 10GE solution now even though they are using 1GB

presently, as in a few years time 10GB will be the mainstay.”

Rajesh Kumar, country manager, Siemon also endorses this view, “The best

practice is to install a future-proof cabling plant capable of supporting the

next generation of application speeds. The total cost of ownership on 10Gb/s

capable cabling is far better than lower performing options.”

There is no denying the fact that data centers will need 10GE. The bandwidth

it provides in conjunction with server consolidation is highly advantageous for

Web caching, real-time application response, parallel processing and storage.

10GE also finds favor with organizations that wish to have campus backbone

linking. Establishing a 10GbE campus backbone is a one-time expense that can

provide significant cost savings when compared to monthly communications link



Standard Ratification: A Blessing

Running 10GE over twisted-pair copper wiring was once thought to be

impossible, so the standards makers relied on four technical building blocks to

make 10GBase-T a reality: cancellation, analog-to-digital conversion, cabling

enhancements and coding improvements. As a result, over 90% of the IEEE 802.3an

task force members voted to approve the standard, certifying that the technology

is stable and marketable.

This standard enables a low-cost, easy-to-use, copper cabling solution for

the transmission of 10GbE. 802.3an specifies the industry standard for running

10Gbps of Ethernet data over unshielded twisted pair (UTP) cabling, running a

maximum length of around 330 feet, or 100 meters.

The ratification is well timed with the ripple of new product releases across

the networking equipment industry. This is being read as an encouraging sign for

the 10GE momentum. Rajesh Shenoy, key account manager, India, Belden CDT informs

of such driving factors, “The active vendors including Cisco, Foundry and

Force 10 are at the verge of launching fully functional 10Gbps (10G Base-T)

switches. This will drive the Cat 6a market.”


All the excitement around

10GE notwithstanding, the number of actual deployments remains modest

In particular, Broadcom recently launched a 20-port 10GbE chip for stackable

switches. Start-up NetXen followed this release with dual-port 10Gb server

cards. IBM, on the other hand, launched its BladeCenter H-said to be the first

blade server system to utilize 10GbE backplane signaling.

Demand, Yet To Pick Up

Despite all the excitement around 10GE, the number of actual deployments

remains modest. The Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) is yet to

ratify CAT6a standard, as a result many small cabling vendors are playing it



KK Shetty, director, Sales, India & SAARC, Tyco Electronics informs that

the market is still in the nascent stage, “Any new technology takes time to

take wings and we feel it will be 4-5 years before we can actually see the real

impact of 10GE. Even now, 1Gb to the desktop is not yet common so we have a long

time to go.”

Kashi Vishweshran, director, BNA Technology Consulting, agrees, “The demand

for 10GE cabling is likely to pick up only after this standard crosses a

critical mass in terms of implementation in back-bone or data center segment.”

Kumar Natarajan, regional director, India, Panduit adds, “We are still quite a

distance away in using CAT 7 in the market space. There is not much need for

such high-speed bandwidth applications today and hence the volume requirements

will be low for some time.”

Despite early deployments of Cat6a and Cat 7 by the likes of ADC Krone,

Systimax and Tyco, a majority of cable vendors are in the wait and watch mode.

Vendors like D-Link, Panduit, BNA Consulting, and DAX Networks are ready to join

the 10GE bandwagon and hope to add to the ripple.


for 10GE cabling solutions (India specific):
Vendor Product

Features No

of Installations(end to end)
Tyco AMP


end-to-end solution for twisted pair and fibre optics on 10GE. Consists of

cable, connectors, and patch panel designs that overcome Alien Crosstalk (ANEXT)

and to enable 10GE transmission over a full 100-meter channel.

installations on fibre.3-4 installations on copper twisted pair.
Systimax GigaSPEED

X10D Solution

Labs used the Modal Decomposition Modelling tool to evaluate the 1,024

interactions between adjacent, as well as within, cabling components to

achieve at a substantial reduction in alien crosstalk.
D-Link D-Link

10GE over copper

comprises of unshielded twisted pair patch-panel 24 port, single —dual

and quad information outlets, patch cords, and UTP solid cables of of 305


experimental installations and 15-20 enquiries in line.



first UTP structured cabling system. The 4-pair plenum data cable has

oblique elliptical offset filler for improved alien crosstalk. The patch

panels come with polymer design helps eliminate alien Crosstalk.

Molex Cat6


solution on shielded copper pair.

installations under implementation
Panduit TX6

10GIG Copper Cabling System

supports 4-connector channel up to 100-meters and exceeds the electrical

channel requirements of the 10 Gigabit IEEE 802.3an Standard. TheTX6 10GIG

is backed with an end-to-end 25 year system warranty.

so far
Belden IBDN

System 10GX.

system's cable incorporates an innovative SpiralFleX design to reduce

Alien crosstalk by randomizing the distance between the cables.

drops so far on one site
Siemon 10G


is a complete, end-to-end UTP augmented category 6 structured cabling


one million drops done in the past one year



solution performs as well in secure or high EMI environments as it does in

standard office spaces, by virtue of its screened construction.



7/Class F TERA

utilizes fully-shielded S/FTP cable and fully shielded connectivity.

Additional shielding is integrated into the outlets and plugs, eliminating

all potential emissions from the overall cabling system. Besides, it

claims to offer performance up to and beyond 10Gb/s.


& De-Massari AG (R&M)


includes both shielded and unshielded solutions. Company claims that

shielded connections using the STAR Real10 range only takes about ten

seconds longer than a UTP connection, and no additional tools are needed


8000 drops

Challenging Task

Despite the fact that some vendors have announced new infrastructure cables

claiming to support 10GE many issues still need to be addressed. Issues such as

price, power dissipation, and user manageability make it difficult for IT

managers to roll out 10 Gigabit Ethernet connections using existing

technologies. Delivering 10GE services over UTP cables is not an easy task.

While the published 10GBase-T standard includes the necessary transmission

requirements, there is some confusion regarding the cabling options. Because the

transmission requirements in the 10GBase-T standard exceed those specified for

Category 6/Class E, 10GBase-T will only achieve limited distances over Category

6/Class E UTP cabling.

Little is known about the affects of ANEXT (alien Crosstalk) of installed

cabling and whether or not conventional design and installations methods can be

used. ANEXT is a source of noise from surrounding cables that attack the victim

cable. (See figure below). In the traditional method of managing patch cords,

there is a management panel for every 2 patch panels and the patch cords are

dressed along either side of the cabinet. This again introduces ANEXT problem.

So there is an issue of how patch cords should be managed in the existing and

new cabling systems.

Tyco supports shielded copper over unshielded (UTP). Shetty says, “Although

the 10Gbase-T standard claims to have minimized the problem of ANEXT, it is true

for ideal circumstances like neat installation and ideal environment of

deployment. In reality, there will be still a large scope of electromagnetic

interference and crosstalk. So we recommend fibre or shielded option for copper

as it circumvents the problem of alien crosstalk. Shielded option provides you

larger headroom than UTP, giving you more space to make changes.”

Dileep Kumar of ADC Krone counters that argument in support for UTP. He says,

“Termination of shielded solution is difficult and time consuming. When the

earthing is not done properly, a shielded solution is worse than a UTP solution

since the shield will act like an antenna and attract unwanted signals into the

transmitting pair. This is exactly the reason for different standards to

consider a UTP solution.”

What Customers Should Know

End users must be aware that different cabling standards exist and bring

with them different levels of capability. Vendors will claim to “meet the

standards,” but end users should ask, “Which one?” and fully understand

the response. It is recommended to refer to the current ISO/IEC Class EA

specification, as it is more stringent than the others, and compliance to this

global specification offers peace of mind.

Shenoy believes that Cat 6a will take some times for acceptability not only

in India, but also across the globe. “The primary reason is the lack of

availability of active devices and servers that will have NIC cards of this

capability. The second reason being the huge cost; Cat6a is approximately 80%

costlier than the regular Cat 6,” he adds. But the market is optimistic that

cost will soon dive down. Shetty says, “As volume of Cat6a will expand, and

more and more electronics will be introduced, 10GE cabling solution will become

more affordable in the next few years.”

The real challenge, therefore, before the customer is to identify the purpose

of choosing a 10 Gigabit Ethernet network and to assess the impact of some

unresolved issues. At the same time, by their nature, Cat 5e and Cat 6 cables

were not designed to support 10-Gbit data rates and reach necessary to make

copper-based 10 GE connections an effective option for enterprise and data

center deployments.

So expect the wait-and-watch period to be very short, and enterprises may

well be advised to take the leap before the competitor. After all, limiting your

options today due to your cabling choices may prove costly in the end.

Malovika Rao