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Get Big Category 6A Performance from a Smaller Diameter Cable

Category 6A has set the new standard for cabling in a telecommunications infrastructure. The first generation of Category 6A cables were able to solve for noise immunity at a large diameter. But new technology is now enabling a second generation of smaller diameter products with comparable noise immunity. Where the larger diameter cable achieved noise immunity by adding layers of insulating material between the cable cores, the new cable designs use various types of shielding between cable cores to minimize noise.

Until now, category 6A cable really had three design alternatives. UTP cables fit into the “good” category. UTP cables are a known commodity- proven technology that has been an industry standard for more than 20 years. A second and better option is a variety of products offered with alternative barrier designs. These products tend to have a smaller outside diameter than UTP cables. As a result, they take up less space. They also don’t require bonding and grounding like a fully shielded cable does. Fully shielded systems have been seen as the best alternative historically, because they are the most effective at achieving outside noise immunity.

A New Alternative from Hitachi

Hitachi Cable America is now producing an alternative cable design to give fully shielded cable a run for its money. Hitachi’s Category 6A Supra 10G-XE cable utilizes a noise control barrier to provide exceptional noise immunity without the increased labor cost of a fully shielded system. Compared to standard UTP cable and comparable discontinuous shield cable, Supra 10G-XE PSANEXT cable significantly outperforms the other alternatives as indicated in the graph below. The greater distance from the red spec line, the better:

Supra 10G-XE performance graph

Testing Performance in a Simulated Network Setting

The above test indicated the Supra 10G-XE cable improved the margin for alien crosstalk. But that alone isn’t enough to prove immunity to all types of outside noise. To simulate an active network setting with a noisy environment, researchers placed cables in an EMC chamber and subjected them to an RF interference test performed to IEC 61000- 4-3 Electromagnetic compatibility (EMC). A signal strength of 3V/m was used to mimic a noisy commercial or light industrial environment. Each of the tested cables supported a 10Gb/s Ethernet data stream during testing.

Data interruption was measured and recorded in two manners: data packet loss and link loss. Packet loss is a less severe short-term interference in the data stream that leads to reduced data rates. When this happens, packets of data don’t arrive complete and they are resent. Packet losses do slow the transmission of data and compromise true 10Gb/s throughput.

As anticipated, fully shielded Category 6A cables delivered the best performance in preventing packet loss. But the performance of the Supra 10G-XE cable was a close second, followed by discontinuous shield cable and the UTP design.

Packet loss events chart

Link loss is far more disruptive. Link loss is a severe interruption in connection that requires the link to be reestablished. When comparing the cables’ performance in preventing link loss, the gap between Supra 10G-XE and its discontinuous shield and UTP counterparts really widens. Supra 10G-XE delivered zero link loss, matching the performance of the larger fully shielded option.

Link Loss Events at 3V/m

Discontinuous shield cable designs have gaps in the shield segments. External noise can penetrate the cable through those gaps. The continuous barrier design of the Supra 10G-XE blocks virtually all noise from reaching the cable’s core.

shielded vs unshielded cable

Think Supra 10G-XE for Your Next Network Cabling Project

Hitachi Cable America’s Supra 10G-XE cable is U.S.-made in their Manchester, New Hampshire facility. Its immunity to noise that can disrupt 10 Gb Ethernet transmission and provide maximum Electromagnetic noise protection makes it an idea solution for medical, corporate, education, transportation, financial, and government applications. To learn more about the product options available, reach out to your Agilix Solutions Account Manager, or contact your nearest branch location. We can help you achieve more reliable performance with smaller diameter cable from Hitachi.