MTP system is now popular among data center managers, because it can provide high-density cabling while saving time. Base-8 and Base-12 are two most used cabling solutions and both them have their own advantages. For example, Base-8 can realize 100% cable utilization while Base-12 can provide higher fiber count for cabling. As both Base-8 and Base-12 play an important role on the basis of MTP system, some network designers may ask “will one cabling solution fit all applications? Or can I deploy Base-8 and Base-12 together to combine their advantages?”. This article aims to share the practical knowledge about Base-8 and Base-12, and you will find the answer after reading this article.
We know that Base-12 makes use of fiber optical links based on increments of 12 fibers and 12-fiber MTP fiber optic connector is common used. However, there is a problem when using Base-12 cabling solution—four fibers for transmit and four fibers for receive, leaving four fibers unused per connection. While Base-8 can be a more cost-effective option for end-to-end MPO to MPO channels and architectures. Deploying Base-8 connectivity in duplex architectures for 10GBASE-SR and 25GBASE-SR will save 4% to 5% for data center managers, but if you are running groups of 6-ports, Base-8 may result in a significant cost increase. Generally speaking, no one cabling solution can fit all applications. In fact, in some cases, Base-12 may still be more cost-effective.
Since Base-8 or Base-12 are not universal solutions, it seems that the best choice for data center managers is to deploy Base-8 and Base-12 together in the same data centers. Can we do that? The answer of the question depends. If directly mix the components and plug a Base-8 MPO MTP cable into a 12-fiber module, then the answer is “No”. Base-8 components and Base-12 components are not designed to be plugged directly into each other. Generally, Base-12 MTP trunk cable has unpinned (female) MTP connectors on both ends and demands the use of pinned (male) breakout modules. While the Base-8 MTP trunk cable is manufactured with pinned connectors on both ends. So plugging a Base-8 trunk cable into a Base-12 breakout module will definitely not work. However, Base-8 and Base-12 can be used in the same data center, but they should be maintained independently. As they are not interchangeable, some care is needed when managing the data center physical layer infrastructure, to ensure Base-8 and Base-12 components are not mixed within the same link.
From the content above, we can get that there is no one cabling solution fitting all network applications. To make full use of the advantages of Base-8 and Base-12, they can be used in different applications according to different requirements. For the most commonly 10G to 40G migration, Base-8 would be a strong consideration over Base-12. Although Base-8 and Base-12 are not interchangeable, but they can be used in the same data center as long as the links are maintained separately.