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The most widely adopted MPO Connector
MPO is the industry acronym for “multi-ﬁber push on.” MPO connectors have more than one ﬁbre in a single ferrule and snap into place by a mechanical mechanism.
The MTP Connector is one brand of MPO connector.
Due to the difficulties in mating two connectors with multiple fibres, as opposed to using single fibre connectors such as an LC connector, different brands of MPO give different performance.
Fibre cables with MPO* type connectors first appeared on the market during the 1990s.
These early cables suffered from poor optical performance and so their application was limited. During the 2000s the performance of these MPO cables was improved largely by the wide adoption of the MT ferrule and the MTP connector.
Both these products were produced in the USA by US Conec and were later followed by the introduction of even higher performing ferrules such as the MT ELITE ferrule. As the demand for MPO cables increased other companies created MPO type connectors. Some of these matched the MTP ELITE connector for performance and others catered for the lower cost market.
* MPO – multi-fibre push on. A connector with more than 1 fibre termianted in the ferrule. Typically these connectors have 12 fibres, however during the last 10 years 8 fibre, 16 fibre, 24 fibre, 48 fibre and 72 fibre connectors have been developed.
A Move to Centralisation
The demand for MPO cables really increased as companies moved to centralising and outsourcing their networks to hosting data centres.
Moving networking equipment (servers / switches / storage) into a 3rd party’s environment which was designed specifically for this purpose made installation easier and more standardised.
This standardisation, coupled with ever increasing data rates (increasing the need for more fibre channels) enabled the growth of modular MPO cable and MPO cassette based solutions.
MPO Cassette – Trunk – Cassette
Initially MPO cables were used to connect MPO-LC modular cassettes. This created a simple duplex network (channels needing 2 fibre cores) that offered LC ports within racks for connection into equipment or to create LC – LC cross connects within distribution areas.
Typically, these types of MPO cables used MPO 12 fibre connectors and 12 core cable. MPO cassette modules had either 6 x LC ports of 12 x LC ports and so one or two MPO cables would be used with two MPO cassettes.
Complete Connect was one of the first companies to offer an MPO cable and MPO cassette solution (our M310 Series) and this solution is still very popular although as demands for higher port density have increased our MX Series is now the preferred choice for many customers.
This type of network is still widely adopted and continues to be in demand as end users move from 10G towards 25G networking.
Higher Data Rates Require MPO Connectors
With the demand for higher data rates, duplex fibre networking (known as a serial networking) was not able to cope and parallel networking was required. This is where multiple pairs of fibres work together to transmit high data rates. MPO cables with one connector holding 12 or 24 fibres were ideal for this application. One MPO cable could be used to carry one high data rate channel, such as 40G or 100G.
Complete Connect introduced the M400 Series in 2012 to meet the initial demand for 40G, which now includes connectivity for 100G.
MPO Cassette to MPO Cassette
As explained above, the first use of MPO cables was within MPO cassette to MPO cassette based fibre network solutions. Typically this used a 12 fibre MPO connector and 12 core cables. The MPO cassettes were either 12 fibre or 24 fibre and presented LC ports at rack fronts and standard LC patch cords could make the final equipment connection.
Instead of using a traditional tight buffered cable which was common for internal networking, MPO cables could use a lighter, smaller and more flexible cable construction because MPO connectors could be terminated onto 250um fibres (not 900um used in tight buffered cable). This cable (know as micro cable or microcore cable) was lighter, smaller and enabled higher cable density and improved bend radius. This was perfect for use within data centres as the volume of fibre channels was continually increasing and space was at a premium.
As the demand for fibre port density has increased,so has the development of fibre management and the increased use of higher core count fibres (up to 144 is common).
Complete Connect’s MX Series offers this type of solution. The main components are: –
MPO – LC modular 24 fibre cassettes
MPO cables using micro cable with up to 144 core
1U and 2U housing panels for top of rack and main distribution
Low loss LC patch cords
MPO Cables for Parallel Networks
The demand for higher data rates led to parallel networking; using multiple pairs of fibres working together to give one higher channel.
40G Ethernet was designed to use four 10G simultaneously transmitted channels. The transceivers (QSFP+ transceivers) required 8 fibre cores to transmit the 4 x 10G channels. Multimode 40G transceivers were designed to take an MPO 12 fibre connector which met the MPO standard. Even though this connector had a 12 fibre capacity, only 8 of the 12 fibres were required. MPO cables used for 40G Ethernet still often have 12 fibre cores and use 12 fibre MPO connectors. This is often a source of confusion.
Complete Connect’s M400 Series was introduced in 2012 to meet the demands for 40G SR4 Ethernet. The M400 Series offers MPO cables for direct connect between 2 QSFP+ transceivers, plus a range of trunk cables, MPO breakout cables and fibre management products.
MPO Cables for 100G Ethernet
With the recent development of 100G SR4 Ethernet using QSFP28 transceivers the demand for products within the M400 Series has increased.
As well as 100G SR4 there is also 100G SR10 transmission. SR10 uses 20 fibre cores to transmit 10 x 10G channels and requires an MPO cable with MPO 24 fibre connectors. Complete Connect’s M1000 Series offers complete SR10 and LR10 (PSM) options.
MPO Cables More Cable Options
Usually MPO cables are used within high density fibre areas. As such they need to be small, light and flexible. However, sometimes this is not the main driving factor in choosing a cable construction. MPO connectors can be terminated onto most types of cable. A few a listed below
Micro Cable with Dual Sheath – used for extra protection. mainly for longer trunk lengths
Armoured Micro Cable – used for extra protection in harsher environments
Standard Loose Tube – used for external building to building connections
MPO Connector Capacity
Usually MPO cables are used with 12 fibre MPO connectors or 24 fibre connectors for 100G SR10.
There are other MPO connector types available
MPO 8 fibre connectors for BASE-8 applications
MPO 16 fibre connectors for BASE-8 applications
MPO 48 fibre connectors for bespoke applications
MPO 72 fibre connectors for bespoke applications
Connecting MPO Cables to MPO cassettes or other MPO cables