Every year, cable assembly designers and suppliers must make adjustments to their products in order to overcome challenges and respond to recent advances. So today, we’re going to delve into some of these changes and goals, starting with fiber optics and copper.
Optical fibers work wonderfully when you need long-distance network communication, but they can also create thermal and power management problems. Copper cables, on the other hand, are far more affordable, but they’re only useful if you don’t need to stretch your communications such a long way. To work with these two components, with all their pros and cons, some designers are finding ways to blend the two for optimal strength.
Increasing data capacity is always important, but cables must also be able to retrieve and transmit that data quickly. Although designers are limited when it comes to front-panel I/O bandwidth density, they can sometimes increase the channels (though this depends on available space). If they aren’t able to add ports to the front panel, sometimes they can improve the bandwidth by increasing the data rate of each channel (which also increases the panel’s port density).
Bandwidth is also a concern, as suppliers of connectors are trying to increase their products’ bandwidth to respond to the needs of electronic devices. Copper assemblies have been vital in this mission. Their design has improved dramatically across the board, with improvements in both bandwidth (which has been increased) and crosstalk noise (which has been reduced).
Speaking of crosstalk noise, we’ve seen great improvement in this field in recent years. Copper cables use much less power than optical modules, which leads to lower heat generation, a cheaper cost, and an improved signal-to-noise ratio.
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To achieve certain goals, trade-offs are common in the cable assembly industry. When designing and selecting products, designers must keep in mind many varied factors (high-frequency insertion loss, noise, SNR margin, bandwidth, long vs. short range applications, price, availability, storage for data, and more). It’s a tough job, but somebody’s gotta do it!