Many of today’s evolved Data Centres struggle with inefficiency, and as a result are failing to achieve maximum cost savings. When planning a new facility or upgrade, the type of cabling products chosen can make a difference in terms of operational cost savings.With our increasing need for speed, many data centres are now choosing the 10GBASE-T Cat6a twisted pair copper cables, which tend to have a larger diameter. Consequently, one of the problems many data centre managers experience is the capacity of copper cable in the pathways within the facility. Congested cable routes can cause a number of problems including:• Preventing the cool air reaching equipment in the cold aisle due to blocked underfloor pathways• The airflow in the network cabinets being restricted by the amount of copper patch cordsTo improve this congested pathway, a viable option for data centre infrastructure is to use a smaller diameter Cat6a copper cable with a 26AWG, known as the Zone Cable.The Zone Cable has many advantages including:• Easier cable management• Improves airflow within network cabinets• Improves airflow in the underfloor containment by reducing cable fill• Easy to install and manage, with all electrical parameters of the Cat6a, component and channel requirements being met• Due to less copper, this is a much more cost effective option• Aids efficiency as it enables 120 cables to be fitted into a basket tray, rather than just 50 standard sized Cat6a cables.Not everyone is convinced by the 26AWG Cat6a cable, for the following reasons:• Only complies with ANSI/TIA568.C.2 and ISO 11801 Class EA internal and alien crosstalk parameters, up to 70 metres. Instead of standard Cat6a which is up to 100 metres (However, the average data centre is only 30 metres, so this should not be an issue)• Some are Category 6/6e zone cable, which advertise 10GBASE-T performance, but only meet the guidelines set out in TSB-155. With no margin on alien crosstalk and will not be completely certified for 10GBASE-T performance without costly testingHowever, using smaller diameter twisted pair copper cables can reduce operational costs in many ways: from savings in energy to engineering time; and from enabling higher port density to improving manageability. Whilst there are some guidelines that need to be followed, with the right approach to planning, and design and carefully selecting the right manufacturer, smaller diameter cables have many advantages that should be considered for your data centre.
Written by Callum Murphy
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