10GBase-T – Ushering in the Era of Affordable 10Gb Ethernet

A variety of technological advancements and trends are driving the increasing need for 10GbE in the data center. There are many media options for 10G Ethernet on the market, such as 10GBase-CX4, SFP+ fiber and SFP+ direct attach cable (DAC), etc. However, those options have more or less limitations that will delay the adoption of 10GbE in many data centers. For example, the deployment of 10GbE—using SFP+ connections to accommodate either fiber optics or DAC connectivity—improved the I/O capability for virtualized servers, but the costs associated with a top-of-rack switch and cabling are high. To solve these issues, 10GBase-T is introduced. It offers the most flexibility, and opens the door for cost-effective migration to 10GbE throughout the data center. The following part will give a brief introduction of 10GBase-T.

Overview of 10GBase-T

Defined by IEEE 802.3, 10GBase-T, which was released in 2006, is the version of Base-T (commonly referred to as “twisted pair” Ethernet) networking standard to achieve 10G data transmission over cat5, cat6a or higher balanced twisted pair copper cabling for a maximum reach of 100 meters. Important for backward compatibility, 10GBase-T uses the same RJ45 physical interface found in all existing Base-T networks. Besides, 10GBase-T preserves the user experience and the training investment that IT organizations have already made through multiple generations of Base-T use. The following image shows the cat6a 10GBase-T patch cable.

cat6a 10GBase-T patch cable

Unique Advantages of 10GBase-T

With various 10G media options available on the market, 10GBase-T has more unique advantages, making it a preferable choice for 10G Ethernet network. The following part lists some advantages of 10GBase-T:


Of the copper 10G Ethernet options, 10GBase-T has the greatest reach. 10GBase-T can operate at distances up to 100 m over cat6a cable or better cabling, which gives IT managers a far greater level of flexibility in connecting devices in the data center and accommodating top-of-rack, middle-of-row, or end-of-row network topologies.


Easy upgrade of 10GBase-T can be performed one end at a time, due to the autonegotiation feature. Autonegotiation enables 10GBase-T to be backward compatible with previous versions of the Base-T equipment. When a 10GBase-T port is connected to another Base-T port, they will communicate with each other and establish the fastest link that both ports can utilize. This flexibility eases installations in networks that already have Base-T switches and servers.

Saving Power

Early 10GBase-T products were relatively inefficient in terms of power use with first-generation, single-port adapters, consuming nearly 25 watt. However, the design enhancement and advanced production process make 10GBase-T more power-efficient (latest 10GBase-T adapters require less than 6 w per port). Standalone 10GBase-T PHYs have seen similar improvements in power utilization, resulting in greater port density for 10GBase-T switches. Many of these PHYs also incorporate a short-reach mode that can reduce power consumption down to 2.5 w for links of 30 m or less (as specified in the IEEE 802.3an standard).

Low Cost

As power consumption has dropped dramatically over the past years, the cost of 10GBase-T has followed a similar downward curve. The first-generation 10GBase-adapters cost $1000 per port, but the newest generation costs less than three hundreds of dollars. Besides, by using 10GBase-T connections, users will see a significant savings over the purchase of more expensive SFP+ DAC and fiber optic adapters, which cost several hundred dollars per adapter, and will be able to free up an I/O slot in the server.

The Future of 10GBase-T

Many industries foresee broad deployment of 10GbE in the form of 10GBase-T. According to the data reported by professionals, in 2010 SFP+ represented 34% of the 10GbE physical media in data centers. This percentage is projected to continue to rise through 2013 to 58%, with large deployments in IP data centers and for high performance computing. 10GBase-T will grow from only one percent of physical media in 2010 to 17% in 2013 and eventually become the predominant media choice with 61% of 10GbE deployments in 2016. There is no doubt that the future of 10GBase-T is really broad.


10G Ethernet has become a necessity both in the data center and in the campus LAN. 10GBase-T is the right option for most of the intra-building 10G links, since it provides a lower cost & power consumption, better backward compatibility and longer reach solution than the other optics. FS.COM provides a wide range of 10GBase-T products, such as cat5e cable, cat6a cable and cat7 cable. Besides, we also have various SFP+ optics in stock, including SFP+ transceivers (like SFP-10G-LR-S) and SFP+ cables (like SFP+ DAC). If you have any need, please visit FS.COM.

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Optical Communication

Work as an English editor at FS.COM, a professional supplier and manufacturer of fiber cables.

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