For Immediate Release - June 6, 2012
Siemon Labs Testing Highlights Performance Risks of Low-Cost Generic Fiber Optic Assemblies
Including randomly selected fiber jumpers from both high-quality global brands and low-end generic suppliers, these benchmark tests show generic assemblies failing to meet minimum performance levels on critical industry standard parameters.
Siemon, a leading global manufacturer of IT network cabling and infrastructure systems, has released the results of comprehensive benchmark testing on optical fiber assemblies. Performed by Siemon Labs, these tests included randomly selected fiber jumpers from 5 well-known global brands, including Siemon, as well as jumpers from 4 low-cost generic assembly houses. The results clearly showed a significant performance gap between the global brands and the generic products, with a significant number of generic assemblies failing to meet minimum standards requirements across a range of performance-critical parameters. To review the full test results, download the new Siemon whitepaper "A Closer Look at Fiber Optic Cable Assemblies" at www.siemon.com/go/fiberjumper.
In terms of optical performance, Siemon Labs tested all assemblies for Insertion Loss (IL) and Return Loss (RL). While all assemblies passed minimum IL requirements, 3 out of 4 generic suppliers had RL failures. "The optical performance results show how substandard assemblies continue find their way into otherwise high-performance networks," explained Robert Carlson, Siemon's Vice President of Global Marketing. "While you may only field-test for IL, substandard RL performance will negatively impact transmission and degrade overall channel performance - even if the assembly passes IL field-testing."
In addition to optical performance, the tests also covered standards-based requirements for fiber end-face geometry, specifically fiber end-face radius of curvature, apex offset and fiber height. These three critical mechanical characteristics of the fiber end-face control the alignment and actual physical contact between fiber cores to ensure reliable signal transmission. While only one global supplier assembly experienced an end-face failure, none of the generic assemblies passed all three minimum requirements. The generic brands fared even worse against Siemon's more rigorous internal performance requirements.
Standards-based visual inspections were also performed, and the results highlight the potential performance impact of contamination and fiber core defects. Fiber core fractures and contamination on ferrules, alignment sleeves or dust caps degrade IL and RL performance, making test results completely unpredictable and causing unnecessary problems such as wasted time in trouble-shooting test failures and false passes that cause non-compliant channel performance on "day two." With the exception of Siemon assemblies, all samples exhibited some form of contamination and failed visual inspection. After proper cleaning, 75% passed with some defects and 25% failed even after cleaning.
While lab tests on optical parameters and connection attributes provide a very strong indicator of an assembly's overall quality and performance, it does not guarantee that the assembly will survive in the real world. Siemon Labs performed mechanical reliability testing against standards requirements for Cable Pull, Flex, Torsion and Retention, parameters designed to ensure that assemblies can endure the mechanical stresses of installation and maintenance in a real-world network and still deliver reliable, long-term performance. These tests once again showed a large quality gap, with all global brands indicating 100% passing results while not a single low-cost supplier made it through without significant failures.
The full results of the Siemon Labs testing highlights the significant risks in specifying low-cost generic fiber jumpers over well-known, quality global brands as well the dangers in considering a passing IL field test as an indication of overall assembly performance. Substandard RL, non-compliant end-face geometry and poor mechanical reliability dramatically increase the likelihood that generic assemblies will degrade overall network performance.
"Users make significant investments in fiber network equipment for its ability to deliver high-bandwidth performance," explained Carlson. "And that performance is choked by cheap, substandard jumpers."
Adding an example, Carlson continued, "A 24-port, 10GbE fiber switch costs about $10,000. If an OM3 LC fiber jumper costs about $20 from a generic supplier and $25 from a high-quality global brand, you'd save a total of about $120 if you used generic jumpers with that switch. Is $120 in jumper savings worth jeopardizing the performance of a $10,000 piece of equipment? If you factor in potential downtime, troubleshooting and replacement jumper costs, using anything less that the highest quality jumpers makes no sense.
The full results of Siemon Lab's fiber assembly testing are included in the new Siemon whitepaper entitled: "A Closer Look at Fiber Optic Cable Assemblies", available online at http://www.siemon.com/go/fiberjumper
For a quick and easy overview of Siemon's fiber assembly testing, check out the infographic on Siemon's Network Infrastructure blog: http://blog.siemon.com/infrastructure/?p=664
- About Siemon
- Established in 1903, Siemon is an industry leader specializing in the design and manufacture of high quality, high performance low voltage infrastructure solutions and services for Data Centers, LANs and Intelligent Buildings. Headquartered in Connecticut, USA, with global sales, technical and logistics expertise spanning over 100 countries, Siemon offers the most comprehensive suite of copper and optical fiber cabling systems, cabinets, racks, cable management, data center power and cooling systems and Intelligent Infrastructure Management solutions. With over 400 patents specific to structured cabling, Siemon Labs invests heavily in R&D and the development of Industry Standards, underlining the company's long-standing commitment to its customers and the industry.
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