Fast MPO Connector Inspection in the Data Center

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Reprinted from the September 2018 edition of CABLING INSTALLATION & MAINTENANCE. Copyright 2018 by PennWell Corporation Fast MPO connector inspection means dramatic opex reduction in the data center Advancements in technology have made the inspection process more eff icient and user-friendly. BY MAURY WOOD, AFL The apparently insatiable public de- mand for broadband internet access, driven largely by widespread on-de- mand video streaming, VR augmented learning proliferation, and high-resolu- tion image social media sharing (among other rich data-type use cases) is driving data centers to adopt both denser fiber cabling architectures and transmission equipment offering higher speed optical Ethernet standards. With 12-fiber MPO cables (with each fiber carrying 100- Gbit/sec data traffic by 2020), the enter- prise value of even a single MPO link is so high that data center operators are now realizing that maintaining abso- lutely pristine connectors is an opera- tional imperative. Serendipitously, fast wide field-of- view (i.e. non-mechanical scanning) MPO inspection systems, with IEC 61300-3-35 standard-compliant au- to-analysis performance of about one second per fiber, are just now com- ing onto the market in the second half of 2018. These new rapid multifiber in- spection systems hold the potential to overcome the previ- ously held concern in the datacom industry that 100 percent connec- tor inspection, even in hyperscale/hyperdense network infrastructure facilities, is impractical from an operational ex- pense (opex) perspective. This notion is now ob- solete, as substantiated by the industrial, eco- nomic, and technologi- cal dynamics outlined in this article. Lots of fiber, and MPO's emergence Modern hyperscale data centers use hundreds of thousands of individ- ual optical fibers, typ- ically spanning tens of thousands of miles in accumulated length, linking compute servers, storage servers and different layers of switches and core routers. The high-speed serial optics found more commonly in telco networks have evolved into higher-speed short-reach parallel optics in data cen- ters. Grouping these parallel transmit and receive optics in multifiber cables and con- nectors has become best practice. The MPO con- nector (IEC-61754-87; TIA- 604-5 FOCIS 5) and the compatible MTP connec- tor from US Conec, have emerged as the most popu- lar multifiber datacom-ori- ented connector types. One of the practical con- siderations that has enabled data center MPO trunk ca- bles to proliferate is the re- cent availability of ribbon (or mass) fusion splic- ing machines. Bluetooth-connected ribbon fusion splicers such as this can splice up to 12 fibers simultaneously in about a minute. This level of operating throughput makes the installation and maintenance of highly parallel multifi- ber cabling practical and cost effective, even in the cost-sensitive data center in- dustry segment. fiber optics The FOCIS Lightning MPO fiber inspection system from AFL takes about one second to test a fiber end. It also offers a composite view of the entire endface.

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