Cat6 RJ-45 1GbE / 10 GbE Cabling


General Information:

“Normal” Cat6 Ethernet cabling found in homes and offices. These cable shapes are not NetApp specific and can be used to document other solutions as well.

NetApp is slowly phasing out 1GbE connections, previous generation platforms still had 1GbE RJ-45 ports.  The latests generation of hardware is equipped with 10GbE capable RJ-45 ports, known also as 10GBaseT.

In the past 1GbE RJ-45 connections have been mainly used for management network connections. With the new 10GbE capability I could see that RJ-45 based cabling becoming more popular also for front-end or hostside connections.

RJ-45 based 10GbE or 10GBaseT has few advantages:

  • Uses widely available Cat6 cabling
  • Allows longer cables than copper based 10GbE DAC cables
  • 10GBaseT can automatically scale down to 1GbE speed, unlike spf+ based 10GbE connections
    • One end of the connection can be 10GbE capable while the other end is only 1GbE
    • This helps with transtion from 1GbE to 10GbE as either end can be upgraded to 10GbE without having to upgrade both ends at the same time

Like always there is no free lunch:

  • 10GbaseT uses quite a lot more power / port than spf+ based connections
  • Switches running 10GBaseT ports generate a lot of heat
  • Savings generated with cheaper cabling might be lost in power / cooling costs
  • This probably the reason why 10GBaseT hasn’t been very popular in the past

Visio shapes:

  • Red cable with circle ends
  • 1 GbE & 10GbE variants
  • Generic 5-leg Pri & Alt variants

Example: Cat6 1GbE & 10GbE cable variants


Screenshot: Cat6 1GbE & 10GbE cable variants in Visio Shapes Window


Cabling Instructions / Cautions:

Generic Cabling Instructions:

  • Follow the same generic cabling instructions as with other cables like 10GbE
  • Before using 10GBaseT in large scale make sure that your power supply and/or cooling can handle extra requirements

NetApp Cabling Instructions:

  • Cat6 RJ-45 cables can be used for:
    • Management ports (a.k.a “Wrench” port)
    • Front-End / host side connections
    • On FAS2600, FAS8200 and AFF A300 platforms 10GBaseT can be used for Cluster Interconnect cabling
      • In case you need more sfp+ ports for hostside 10GbE connections than available UTA2 ports allow
      • There are some offloading advantages in using motherboard spf+ 10GbE ports for hostside connections