Differences Between Breakout Cable and Breakout Patch Panel

10Gbps is no longer the satisfying data rate as more and more people increasingly need faster transmission speed, so the migration to 40G and beyond is inevitable. However, replacing all the 10G equipment in data center will cost more in material and labor. Is there any solution we can use to connect 40/100G equipment with the existing 10G equipment in a cost-effective path? The answer is definitely yes. Breakout cable and breakout patch panel are two main solutions. What are the differences between them, and which one is better for our application? Read this post, and you will find more information.

Why We Need Breakout Cable and Breakout Patch Panel?

Unlike 10G infrastructure using duplex fiber to achieve data transmission, the 40/100G network uses parallel fibers. For example, when we need to get connection between 10G and 40G device, we can use MTP LC breakout cable to achieve the total data rate up to 40Gbps in a 4 x 10Gbps parallel transmission mode. The breakout panel was based on the same working principle with breakout cables, which can provide a mature and highly scalable alternative to breakout cables since it allows users to seamlessly and conveniently integrate equipment with different speeds for today’s and even tomorrow’s connectivity needs.

Breakout Cable VS. Breakout Patch Panel
Differences in Structure

A breakout cable is with one MPO/MTP connector on end for interfacing QSFP+ style switch, and with the breakout legs with LC connectors on the other end for providing connectivity with SFP+ interfaced switch as shown below. Breakout cables used for different Ethernet networks are with different structure, for example, a 40G breakout cable has four individual 10G duplex cables totaling eight duplex strands, and a 100G breakout cable has ten individual 10G duplex cables, namely 20 fiber strands.

MTP breakout cable

Breakout patch panel or MTP patch panel is integrated a range of modular, removable fiber assemblies in a rack-mount panels(the image below shows a 100G breakout patch panel). For 40G and 100G network, its design is different. A 40G breakout patch panel is designed with 12 standards MTP connectors (8-fiber) elite to 48 duplex LC connectors in a 1RU patch panel, and a 100G breakout patch panel is designed with 8 24-MTP (20 fibers used) elite to 80 duplex LC in 1RU panel, you can achieve 8 groups of 10G to 100G paths in a simple, efficient and well maintained manner.

100G breakout patch panel

Differences in Installation

When use breakout cable, we also need optical modules to achieve the connection. For example, in a 40G infrastructure, the MTP connector end of breakout cable should first plug into QSFP+ modules, then plugs the whole cable assembly into a 40G port of a switch, and the other four LC duplex ends of the 40G breakout cable should first plug into four SFP+ modules and then plugs the whole four cable assemblies into four 10G ports of server as shown below.

breakout cable installation

When use breakout patch panel, the breakout fiber panels and cassettes are the key. With an easy plug-n-play step, you can easily complete the whole connection between two standard ports, which eliminates the complicated cable management segment. You can get the detailed installation step from the image below.

breakout patch panel installation

Differences in Pros and Cons

Breakout cable offers a quick and easy migrating way for users to connect slower speed equipment with higher-speed equipment. However, it increases the costs, delays projects and even presents a nightmare scenario for the upgrade and maintenance, because of cable congestion. On the contrary, breakout patch panel provides flexibility and scalability for network upgrading, allowing users to connect diverse network cabling standard seamlessly, without the costly, labor-intensive hassle of replacing channels end-to-end. The biggest challenge of breakout patch panel is how to select the right one to meet your current needs, as well as adapting to and growing with your future needs, because it involves the cost, network standard, and the whole network plan concerns.

Conclusion

Breakout cable and breakout patch panel are both good solutions for the 10G to 40G migration. Breakout cable is easy to handle, but breakout patch panel could provide more advantages, especially for cable management and network upgrade. Taking future using into consideration, you’d better choose breakout patch panel. Do ensure you choose the right one according to your needs.

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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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