10BASE-T vs. SPF+

Which is the Best 10G Network Solution for Small Businesses?

In today’s world, the need for 10 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) easily spans all types of markets and businesses. In 2016, the global Internet traffic reached 1.2 ZB (1,000 Exabytes [EB]) per year and loads are expected to increase to 3.3 ZB per year by 2021. These statistics are one of the major reasons why businesses are adopting 10 GbE networks.

In addition, big analytics, cloud computing and virtualization are pushing 10G adoption. Adopting a 10G network is a critical decision for any business that is constantly in demand of higher bandwidth for faster backups and the ever-growing amount of data generated.

10GbE connectivity offers your small business greater ability to adopt better service deployment and an immediate boost to your network performance. The 10GbE network was first defined by the IEEE 802.3ae-2002 standard and it only works with duplex point-to-point connections through network switches.

Like earlier Ethernet versions, you can use either fiber or copper cabling to enjoy the benefits of 10GbE connectivity in your small business. However, the 10GbE standard utilizes a set of different physical layer (PHY) standards. You will find that a networking device offers support for different types of PHY via pluggable modules like XFP, SFP+ and XENPAK.

In order to realize the benefits of 10G networking, you need to choose one of either 10GBASE-T or SFP+ technologies for transmitting data via copper and fiber respectively. Before choosing the right technology, business owners and IT managers have to choose a cable solution capable of supporting the current future needs and trends.

Some of the things that should be considered when choosing the best 10GbE technology for your business include:

  • Number of core servers – The more servers you have in your business, the more CPU cores will be required to process data and application demands.
  • Storage Area Networks (SAN) – Your networked storage will be required to either carry out multiple computations at the file system or block storage level.
  • Business network aggregation – With the deployment of 10GbE applications increasing, expect the demand for higher speed switch uplinks to increase.
  • Input/Output Consolidation – This means considering whether you would like to interconnect your infrastructure for all your communication requirements, including management, storage and computing.
  • Virtualization – The new cable selection should be capable of consolidating work applications for better-utilized servers using technologies like XEN, VMware, KVM, and Hyper-V.

While planning for your future cable infrastructure, it is critical you consider whether the current physical infrastructure is capable of supporting your future needs. You probably do not want to employ different cable infrastructures for separate application traffic. Consolidating your IO consolidation is the next big step to the reduction of data center capital as well as operational costs.

However, in consideration of either 10GBASE-T or SFP+ technologies, which is the best solution for small businesses?

10GBASE-T Technology

10GBASE-T is the fourth generation IEEE standardized Base-T technology that is designed for reducing overall networking costs while improving its flexibility. The technology utilizes unshielded or shielded twisted pair cabling and RJ45 connectors to provide you with data transmission speeds of 10Mbps, 100Mbps, 1Gbps and 10Gbps.

The transmission characteristics of 10GBASE-T are now specified at 500 MHz. However, in order to achieve this frequency, you are advised to use Category 6A or better balanced twisted pair cables to carry 10GBASE-T up to a distance of 100m.

Advantages
  • The twisted pair cables are affordable for small businesses
  • Backward compatible with previous generations
  • Ports are physically smaller, which is critical for non-data centric devices
  • Easier to use – just plug in an Ethernet cable and you are ready to go
  • You can use patch panels without having to worry about messing with transceivers

Disadvantages
  • Substandard cabling can negatively affect overall speeds
  • Technology requires higher power input
  • The number of equipment available to extend the length beyond 100m is limited

10G SFP+ Technology

Enhanced Small Form-Factor Pluggable (SFP+) technology is capable of supporting 10GbE, fiber channel and Optical Transport Network standard. The transceiver meets the Multi-Sourcing Agreement (MSA) standard and is a cost-effective solution for providing 10G optical data communication.

The transceiver features a 10Gbit/s DFB/EML optical transmitter as well as a PIN receiver, allowing 10G Ethernet and 10G fiber channel applications running from 300m to 120 km. SFP+ technology brings the following advantages and disadvantages to the business environment.

Advantages
  • A lower power consumption rate
  • A better choice of connecting equipment
  • Lower latency
  • Cheaper switches and NICs
  • Transceivers and fiber can run any length
  • Better for a future-proof cabling system

Disadvantages
  • The technology offers no distinctive advantages when transmitting data over short distances
  • Longer runs require expensive patch panels, transceivers and termination equipment

10GBASE-T vs. SFP+ Comparison

Technology

10GBASE-T is generally cheaper and easier to deploy compared to the alternative SFP+ technology. In addition, the former is backwards compatible with 1G ports, which are still in use for many low bandwidth devices. 10G SFP+ makes it difficult to find something that offers ports for all your 1G and 10G devices.

Latency

In order to ensure faster response time while reducing CPU idle cycles, low latency is critical. The latency will help increase your small business’ efficiency as well as Return On Investment (ROI). Since businesses are depending more and more on private cloud applications, demands for low latency are fast increasing.

10GBASE-T technology uses PHY standard for block encoding, which means that latency is about 2 microseconds per block. On the other hand, SFP+ utilizes simplified electronics with encoding with a latency of around 300 nanoseconds for each link.

The differences between both technologies in terms of application latency are slight. However, relatively speaking, 10G SFP+ offers you a lower latency compared to the 10GBASE-T.

Power Consumption

Components used in 10GBASE-T require between 2 to 5 watts per port at the end of the cable, depending on the length of your cable. SFP+ demands about 0.7 watts, regardless of the distance covered.

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10GBASE-T vs. SFP+: Which is the Better Option?

By comparison, if scalability and flexibility are important in your small business application, then 10GBASE-T cabling is the better option. However, if power consumption and lower latency are vital, 10G SFP+ cabling is the clear winner.

Fortunately, the cost of laying 10GBASE-T cabling is no longer on the rise. One way 10GBASE-T can gain an absolute advantage over 10G SFP+ is by making the technology much cheaper. In addition, 10GBASE-T would have to offer better power efficiency so it can fully replace Gigabit as the base level in networking.

Conclusion

If you are pondering on whether to build a 10G cabling system today from scratch, which of the technologies above would you choose for your small business’ network connectivity. Both 10G SFP+ and 10GBASE-T cabling bring you their own advantages. Plus, both of them look set to occupy a critical position when it comes to the future of designing networks and best practices.

Regardless of the solution you choose for your business, it is pertinent that you remember you will only achieve the best results when using quality hardware from reputable manufacturers – externally and internally. When purchasing 10GBe network equipment, choose those that offer unparalleled performance and reliability.

Read more from our 10GbE Bible
We will be updating this frequently with new articles on various 10GbE topics to help you gain valuable knowledge on this emerging technology.

10GbE Capable Product Briefs

Read about their specifications and features

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