Until June of 2010, before the ratification of the IEEE 802.3ba, the MTP® connector’s major benefit was installation speed and reduction of bulk cordage. The 802.3ba standard offered a roadmap for manufacturers to develop 40/100G Ethernet projects. Arguably one of the most dynamic changes in the cabling infrastructure world, this standard called for the use of the MTP (MPO style) for multimode fiber cabling infrastructures.
MTP / MPO – A Game Changer
Before I get into telling you why it’s going to change the world, I should first explain MTP vs. MPO style connector. MTP is a popular brand name of an MPO style connector. In other words, MPO is the official name of the type of connector, but MTP is a very popular brand name. Much like “Band-Aid” is to “adhesive bandage.”
The 802.3ba standard calls for the use of the MTP connector in multimode fiber cabling infrastructures. The main reason for this is cost.
40 and 100G Ethernet cannot be obtained utilizing standard short range optics (transceivers) that utilize VCSEL (Vertical Cavity Surface Emitting Lasers), running over a standard serial connection. A serial connection is when one fiber is used for transmit and the other fiber used for receive. This is the standard duplex connection that most are familiar with in fiber cabling.
Enter “parallel optics” – this is where multiple fibers are aggregated to transmit multiple 10G signals each. For 40G there will be (4) 10G fibers transmitting and (4) 10G signals coming back (Rx and Tx). This short video does a great job in explaining how this works.
So how is this going to change the cabling world?
Well, most data center fiber infrastructures are based on a duplex, or serial, connection system. LC, SC and ST connectors are prominent. This changeover to the MTP will be required to run 40/100G Ethernet speeds (unless using expensive LX optics which are cost prohibitive to most).
This turns the cabling infrastructure upside down. MTP’s need to be incorporated into the mix – and the sooner the better! Many times, new hardware is purchased and the cabling is an afterthought. If this is the case, then there will be a rude awakening if one plans on using multimode fiber. Do your research before investing in new cabling now…it will pay off later!