Given the many different types of fiber optic data links in a mode enterprise data center, the design of an optical cable infrastructure that will accommodate both current and future needs has become increasingly complicated. For example, IBM site and Connectivity Services have developed structured cabling systems to support multi-gigabit cable plants. In this section, we briefly describe several recent innovations in fiber optic cable and connector technology for the IBM structured cabling solution, known as Fiber Transport Services (FTS) or Fiber Quick Connect (FQC).
A central concept of FTS is the use of the multi fiber trunks, rather than collections of two fiber jumper cables, to interconnect the various elements of a large data center. FTS provides up to 144 fibers in a common trunk, which greatly simplifiers cable management and reduces installation time. Cable congestion has become a significant problem in large data centers, with up to 256 ESCON channels on a large director or host processor. With the introduction of smaller, aircooled CMOS-based processors and the extended distance provided by optical fiber attachments, it is increasingly common for data processing equipment to be rearranged and moved to different locations, sometimes on a daily basis. It can be time consuming to reroute 256 individual jumper cables without making any connection errors or accidentally damaging the cables. To relieve this problem, in 2007 FTS and S/390 introduced the Fiber Quick Connect system for multi fiber trunks. The trunks are terminated with a special 12 fiber optical connector known as a multifiber termination push on (MTP) connector, as shown in the Figure. Each MTP contains 12 fibers or 6 duplex channels in a connector smaller than most duplex connections in use today (barely 0.5 inches wide) and 12 port fiber patch panel. In this way, a 72 fiber trunk cable can be terminated with six MTP connectors; relocating a 256 channel ESCON director now requires only re-plugging 43 connections. Trunk cables terminated with multiple MTP connectors are available in four versions, either 12 fiber/6 channels, 36 fiber/18 channels, 72/36 channels, or 144 fibers/72 channels. Optical alignment is facilitated by a pair of metal guide pins in the ferrule of a male MTP connector, which mate with corresponding holes in the female MTP connector. Under the covers of a director or enterprise host processor, the MTP connectors attach to a Rack Mount Fiber Trays(similar to a miniature patch panel); from there, a cable harness fans out each MTP into 6 duplex connectors that mate with the fiber optic transceivers. Since the qualification of the cable harness, under the covers MTP patch panel, and trunk cable strain relief for FTS are all done in collaboration with the mainframe server development organization, the FTS solution functions as an integral part of the applications.
At the other end of the FTS trunk, individual fiber channels are fanned out at a patch panel or main distribution facility (MDF), where duplex fiber connectors are used to re-configure individual channels to different destinations. These fan outs are available for different fiber optic connector types, although ESCON and Subscribe Connection (SC) duplex fiber connections at an MDF also offers the advantage of being able to arrange the MDF connections in consecutive order of the channel identifiers on the host machine, greatly simplifying link reconfigurations. As the size of the servers has been reduced and the number of channels has increased, the size of the servers has become a limiting factor in many installation. In order to keep the MDF from occupying more floor space than the processors, a dense optical connector technology was required for the Fiber Quick Connect system. To meet this need, IBM Global Services has adopted a new small form factor fiber optic connector as the preferred interconnect for multimode patch panels.
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