Plug-and-play fiber-optic connector market growing rapidly

by Frank Murawski, president of FTM Consulting

by Frank Murawski, FTM Consulting Inc.

Currently the highest speed supported on data center cabling is 10-Gbit/sec Ethernet, primarily using 50-micron OM3 laser-optimized multimode fiber cabling. In the future, data center cabling will be required to support even higher speeds of 40- or 100-Gbit/sec Ethernet. Smaller data centers will use 40 Gbits/sec, while larger data centers will need 100 Gbits/sec. Newer OM4 laser-optimized multimode fiber cables will be needed to support these higher 40/100-Gbit/sec speeds, while 10 Gbits/sec can be supported by OM3 multimode fiber cables for most applications.

In order to maintain fiber-optic transceiver costs at these higher speeds, 40 and 100 Gbits/sec will run on multiple parallel fibers, each supporting 10 Gbits/sec. Currently, 10 Gbits/sec requires two fibers (one transmit, one receive) per port, while in the future 40 Gbits/sec will require 8 fibers per port and 100 Gbits/sec will need 20 fibers per port.

In order to handle this multifiber parallel connectivity within the data center, newer fiber connector technology must be deployed, such as the 12-fiber connector MPO device. in conjunction with multifiber cables, plug-and-play connectorized cables with 12 fibers connectorized with the MPO fiber connectors provide one of the ways to handle these future high speeds. For 40-Gbit/sec Ethernet, one 12-fiber cable terminated in MPO connectors provides a port connection with four spare fibers. For 100 Gbits/sec, two similar cables or a 24-fiber cable terminated with two MPO connectors provides a port connection, also with four spares.

The market for these connectorized plug-and-play fiber products is forecast to grow from $144.6 million in 2010, at a 16.6 percent rate, to $312.2 million by 2015. The total fiber cable market for data centers is expected to exceed $700 million by 2015.

Frank Murawski is president of FTM Consulting. The product forecasts he discusses in this article, along with detailed descriptions and analysis of these newer products, are contained in FTM's latest study Data Center Structured Cabling Systems Market. Email Frank here.

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