CATEGORY 8: UNDERSTANDING THE NEW CATEGORY OF PERFORMANCE FOR BALANCED TWISTED PAIR CABLE

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1 ORTRONICS : UNDERSTANDING THE NEW CATEGORY OF PERFORMANCE FOR BALANCED TWISTED PAIR CABLE Cindy Montstream, RCDD/NTS, EE, CPLP Director of elearning and Standards DATA COMMUNICATIONS Legrand, North America designed to be better.

2 INTRODUCTION Ethernet has become widely deployed as a preferred networking solution for many types of applications ranging from small business to large enterprise. Increased network traffic, driven by server virtualization and converged networking, is driving the need for higher bandwidth server connections. Ethernet BASE-T interfaces, utilizing balanced twisted pair cabling, are prevalent. They have been wellmatched for network environments with a mixed set of applications, equipment and networking port speeds. The ability to auto-negotiate between application speeds allows easy migration to higher speeds of operation on an as-needed basis, while maintaining compatibility with existing equipment. This, along with its cost effectiveness, makes balanced twisted pair cabling still a very popular media for supporting Ethernet applications. The highest category of performance for balanced twisted pair cabling, in the TIA 568 C.2 standard, is category 6A. This category of performance was defined to support 10 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) over balanced twisted-pair cabling in a channel, up to 100 meters in length, with up to 4 connectors. In 2010, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) ratified the 802.3ab standard defining 40 Gbps and 100 Gbps Ethernet transmission. There are many options for the physical medium dependent (PMD) sublayer that defines transmission and reception details about the physical layer. The majority of the options are listed below. As you can see, most PMDs listed are for 40/100 Gbps transmission over fiber. There is a shielded copper cable option for both 40 and 100 GbE for up to 7 m, but the supported media is twinax cable. There is no option for balanced twisted pair cable. Table 1: Summary of Physical Layer Options for Supporting 40 and 100 GbE PMD/INTERFACE IEEE STANDARD SUPPORTED MEDIA 40GBASE-SR ab OM3 multimode 850 nm (4-lanes) up to 100 m OM4 multimode 850 nm (4-lanes) up to 150 m 40GBASE-LR ab Single-mode nm (CWDM) up to 10 km 40GBASE-CR ab Twinax cable (4-lanes) up to at least 7 m 40GBASE-KR ab Backplane (4-lanes) up to 1 m 100GBASE-SR ab OM3 multimode 850 nm (10-lanes) up to 100 m OM4 multimode 850 nm (10-lanes) up to 150 m 100GBASE-LR ab Single-mode 1310 nm (CWDM) up to 10 km 100GBASE-ER ab Single-mode 1310 nm (CWDM) up to 40 km 100GBASE-CR ab Twinax cable (10-lanes) up to at least 7 m IEEE announced a Call-for-Interest (CFI) for a new application, NGBASE-T in July NGBASE-T stands for Next Generation BASE-T beyond 10 Gbps. BASE-T signifies that the media will be balanced twisted pair cabling. WHAT INITIATED THE DEVELOPMENT OF? The IEEE NGBASE-T Call-for-Interest (CFI) led to the formation of a Study Group to investigate and possibly develop this technology. In March, 2013, IEEE approved the formation of the task group IEEE 802.3bq to develop the 40GBASE-T Ethernet Standard for supporting 40 GbE over cost effective twisted pair cabling. Some of the main objectives of the 802.3bq group are the following: Support full duplex operation only Preserve the Ethernet frame format utilizing the MAC Preserve the minimum and maximum frame size of current standard Support a Bit Error Rate (BER) better than or equal to Support auto-negotiation Support energy efficient ethernet Support local area networks using point-to-point links over structured cabling topologies, including directly connected link segments Do not preclude meeting FCC and CISPR EMC requirements Support a data rate of 40 Gbps Define a link segment based upon copper media specified by ISO/IEC JTC1/SC25/WG3 and TIA TR-42.7 meeting the following characteristics: 4-pair, balanced twisted-pair copper cabling Up to two connectors Up to at least 30 m Work in TIA 42.7 was initiated in 2013 to support this new PMD for 40GBASE-T. 2

3 TIA SPECIFICATION The TIA 42.7 Working Group has defined most of the parameters for category 8 cabling. The category 8 channel is a 2-connector model using foiled twisted pair (FTP) cable with a maximum permanent link length of 24 meters (79 feet), as shown in Figure 1 below. Category 8 transmission performance is specified from 1 MHz to 2000 MHz. Figure 1: Category 8 Channel RJ-45 CORD RJ-45 OUTLET CABLE PERMANENT LINK 24m MAX RJ-45 OUTLET RJ-45 CORD Horizontal and backbone cable will consist of four balanced twisted pairs with conductors that can range from 22 AWG to 24 AWG. Cord cable consists of four balanced twisted pairs with conductors that range from 22 AWG to 26 AWG. Category 8 is a shielded solution with no specifications for bundled or hybrid cables. Category 8 will use the RJ-45, an eight-position modular jack common to BASE-T applications, supported over structured cabling systems, defined within TIA. It will also support auto-negotiation for backwards compatibility since it still uses 4-pair balanced twisted-pair cable used by other cable categories. The length of the channel can vary from 28 meters to 32 meters, depending on the length of cordage (patch/equipment cords) allowed. This is because the patch cord length allowed is dependent on a de-rating factor. The de-rating factor is based on the wire gauge size (AWG) of the conductor used in the cordage. See Table 2 for the length of cordage allowed based on the de-rating factor. Table 2: Patch Cord De-Rating Factor Based on a 24 Meter Permanent Link EQUIPMENT CORD DE-RATING FACTOR LENGTH OF CORDAGE ALLOWED (M) 0% (22/23 AWG) 8 20% (24 AWG) 6 50% (26 AWG) 4 Although this is a great departure from the traditional 100 meter (328 feet), 4-connector channel, category 8 will be backwards compatible with existing cabling and equipment to allow auto-negotiation between 100 Mbps, 1 Gbps, 10 Gbps and 40 Gbps over balanced twisted-pair cabling. The category 8 specifications will be listed in Addendum 1 of TIA-568-C.2 (to be published as ANSI/TIA-568-C.2-1). ISO/IEC SPECIFICATION ISO is the International Organization for Standardization. It creates standards for structured cabling similar to TIA, with participation from international organizations; the US has a delegation that participates also. The ISO/IEC standard is similar to the ANSI/TIA-568 standard. Both organizations try to harmonize the standards but there are some differences. For example, ISO specifies the channel performance specification as a Class and component performance specifications as a Category. TIA has traditionally used Category to reference the component, link and channel performance specifications. Currently, ISO has the following category and class specifications: Category 5 components provide Class D balanced cabling performance (specified to 100 MHz) Category 6 components provide Class E balanced cabling performance (specified to 250 MHz) Category 6A components provide Class EA balanced cabling performance (specified to 500 MHz) Category 7 (shielded) components provide Class F balanced cabling performance (specified to 600 MHz) Category 7A (shielded) components provide Class FA balanced cabling performance (specified to 1000 MHz) TIA performance specifications only recognize up to category 6A; not category 7 or 7A (shielded solutions). ISO has also been working on category 8.1 and 8.2 component specifications to support a new Class I and II channel specification, respectively. The existence of these ISO performance specifications is the reason TIA chose category 8 as the next performance specification. The Class I specification is similar to the current TIA category 8 specification. Originally, the ISO Class I channel and 8.1 component performance was specified only to 1.6 GHz. ISO is working on extending the performance specification to 2 GHz, like the TIA category 8 specifications, to comply with IEEE. TIA has a task group investigating a performance specification similar to ISO s Class II and category 8.2 specifications. The naming conventions for channel and component performance specifications and whether it will align with ISO s naming conventions has not yet been determined. Work within TIA has been focused on completing category 8 defined as a twisted-pair, 30-meter channel, using up to (2) RJ45 connections. 3

4 ISO also recognizes several connector types for category 8. These interfaces are shown in Table 3 below. Category 8.1/Class I uses an RJ45 interface. This is the same interface used in all TIA category specifications (TIA-568-C.2 standard), including the in-progress category 8 specification. ISO recognizes three interfaces for category 8.2/Class II; the TERA, GG45, and ARJ45. These are also recognized category 7A interfaces in ISO. It remains uncertain whether TIA will adopt any of these connector interfaces if they create a Class II specification similar to ISO. Table 3: Connection Interfaces for Category 8 in ISO Standards PMD/INTERFACE SUPPORTED MEDIA TYPE DWG DESCRIPTION Category 8.1/Class I Category 8.2/Class II TIA 568-C.2 ISO/IEC IEC (C7A Interface) IEC (C7A Interface) IEC (C7A Interface) RJ45 TERA 1 GG45 2 ARJ45 3 Notes: 1. TERA is a registered trademark of The Siemon Company. 2. GG45 is a registered trademark of Nexans (France). 3. ARJ45 is a registered trademark of Bel Fuse Ltd (Hong Kong). WHAT IS THE APPLICATION Development of a category 8 performance standard was driven by the need to support the next generation of NGBASE-T. The need for the next generation BASE-T standard was substantiated by a need to support Ethernet beyond 10GbE for server-to-switch connections. The existing 40 GbE over copper standard (ratified in 2010), 40GBASE-CR4, defines 40 Gbs over twinax cable for up to 7 meters. This is sufficient for use within a rack or a neighboring rack but not sufficient for supporting other architectures within a data center. Therefore, the initial application driving the development of NGBASE-T and category 8 was support for server-to-switch connections within a row, such as end-of-row or middle-of-row architectures as shown in Figure 2. Figure 2: Applications for 40GBASE-T Next Gen BASE-T well suited to cover server to switch connections within the row Distance served by NGBASE-T Within the rack Neighboring racks, stranded ports End of row Distance served by CR4 Within the rack Neighboring racks Source: IEEE Next Generation BASE-T CFI Consensus Building Presentation July 2012 Plenary. Category 8 will allow support of 40 Gbps over balanced twisted-pair cable for 28 to 32 meters depending on the patch cordage wire gage (AWG) used. This distance works well for use within racks, neighboring racks, and end-of-row racks. Switch fabrics, like leaf and spine, are growing in popularity in the data center and may also provide an application for category 8. Category 8 will use an RJ45 interface, which is backwards compatible with previous TIA category standards, and will support autonegotiation making transitions to faster data applications easy. At the November 2014 IEEE Plenary Meeting, there was call for interest to add 25GBASE-T to the portfolio of Ethernet PMDs over twisted-pair copper cabling. The technical feasibility was based on the fact that 25GBASE-T would build on the technology of existing10gbase-t and 40GBASE-T being developed. 25GBASE-T could use the category 8, 2-connector channel being developed in TIA. This technology would provide an Ethernet upgrade path from 1G to 10G to 25G to 40G. Work on 25GBASE-T will be done within IEEE802.3bq, the group currently developing the 40GBASE-T standard. A document has also been produced in TIA that identifies opportunities for high-performance structured cabling (i.e. category 8). The TIA TR-42.7 subcommittee approved a new Technical Service Bulletin, TIA TSB-5019, High Performance Structured Cabling Use Cases for Data Centers and Other Premises for publication at the February, 2015, plenary meeting. This document is intended to provide details for deploying future category 8 structured cabling in data centers and other premises to support 25GBASE-T and 40GBASE-T applications. The document identifies, analyzes and recommends architectures like switch fabric, end-of-row, middle-of-row and top-of-rack for high performance structured cabling utilizing next generation BASE-T standards with data rates above 10GBASE-T such as 4

5 25GBASE-T and 40GBASE-T. These examples can be used in data center or premise designs like test labs or equipment rooms requiring high bandwidth solutions. WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES? One of the biggest challenges has been defining the measurement technology required to assess and verify category 8 component, link and channel performance. The frequency range has drastically increased from 500MHz for CAT 6A to 2,000MHz for CAT 8. There are several tasks groups working on this. One task group is working on updating the ANSI/TIA-1183: Measurement Methods and Test Fixtures for Balun- Less Measurements of Balanced Components and Systems standard. This standard is intended to be used as an independent testing reference and describes methods and fixtures that support laboratory measurement of all differential mode, mixed mode, and common mode transmission parameters up to 1 GHz. Category 8 requires extending the frequency range to 2 GHz. Another task group is working on updating the ANSI/TIA-1152: Requirements for Field Test Instruments and Measurements for Balanced Twisted-Pair Cabling. This standard provides requirements for field test instruments, as well as measurement methods to compare field instrument measurements against measurements obtained using laboratory equipment. The challenge is that the frequency range to be tested was 500 MHz for CAT 6A but will be 2,000 MHz for CAT 8. The proposal is to increase the accuracy level from 1G to 2G. Table 4 below lists the field tester accuracy levels that exist today, the proposed CAT 8 required level, and some accuracy levels specific to ISO. Table 4: Field Tester Accuracy Levels Field Tester Accuracy Levels CABLING STANDARD FREQUENCY RANGE (MHz) ACCURACY LEVEL CAT 5e 100 Level II CAT Level III CAT 6A 500 Level IIIe CAT 8 2,000 Level 2G (proposed) ISO-Only Accuracy Levels (ISO ) CABLING STANDARD FREQUENCY RANGE (MHz) ACCURACY LEVEL CLASS F 600 Level IV CLASS FA 1000 Level V (draft) Much of the work on the ANSI/TIA-1183 standard has been completed and is in the ballot process as of early Defining the field test requirements for ANSI/TIA-1152 has been challenging but work is progressing and this standard is also in the ballot process. SUMMATION AND CONCLUSIONS Will category 8 be widely adopted? That is the question being asked by many. A twisted-pair Ethernet (BASE-T) solution has advantages such as being one of the most widely adopted structured cabling technologies, low cost, using a common connector interface and auto-negotiation capabilities. Although the category 8 standard is not complete as of early 2015, the TIA category 8 interface is the RJ45. The category 8 channel length has been reduced from the historical 100 meter channel length and is a shielded solution, with the channel being limited to 2 connectors. Both the 30 meter channel length (can vary from meters depending on cordage) and 2-connector channel limitations must be included in designs intended to support future BASE-T applications. There is a task group investigating whether TIA should define a Class II category 8 specification with better component specs, similar to ISO s category 8.2 components. If there is enough support to add this to the TIA standard, it will most likely be after the current category 8 standard is completed. For Class II category 8, TIA might have to adopt one or more of the other connector types currently listed in the ISO Category 8.2/Class II specification (see Table 3). There is much discussion in TIA since the three interfaces (shown in Table 3) are not compatible with the existing RJ45. There are questions about whether the RJ45 will be able to achieve the component performance being considered for Class II. How widely will category 8 be adopted? Will fiber be less expensive? Time will tell, however, keep an eye on the active equipment manufacturers because they greatly impact what gets adopted. TIA hopes to complete the category 8 standard by the end of 2015 but will more likely be completed in

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