Copper is the metal that is currently used in much of the cabling powering the Internet infrastructure around the world. Sure everything is working great right now, we just about have enough capacity to deal with the amount of data transferred, but future problems are foreseen – as the amount of information that we consume grows and the population grows, it is feared that the Internet will run out of capacity. And further to that, it is believed that copper isn’t the best element to base Internet cables around for much longer – it is old, easily damaged and has limited data transfer capabilities.
Intel has developed a new cable that could be the answer to these worries. It’s called the MXC cable and instead of being made of copper, it is made of copper. Instead of being limited to 10Gbps as current copper technology is, you can transfer up to 800Gbps through it, in either direction, giving a combined data throughput of 1.6Tbps. That figure is massive compared to current standards and quells some of the future capacity worries. This new cable is to be integrated into infrastructure where large traffic handling capabilities are a necessity.
Modern fibre technology
The new 800Gbps cables have been developed using fibre technology, which is quickly becoming the popular choice for organisations looking to achieve faster transfer rates using cables that are a lot more durable. A strand of fibre is able to transfer much more data than your average copper cable, whilst many copper cables are regarded as not being too durable and prone to wear quite quickly.
Download a HD film in around 2 seconds
If we consider that the average HD film is usually around 4GB in size, then a cable transmitting data at the full 800Gbps should be able to deliver the file in around 2 seconds. Though we’re unlikely to see these cables in our homes anytime soon, a lot of technology originally developed at the enterprise level does slowly trickle down to consumers and it could be a sign of what the future holds for connectivity in the house.
With downloadable 4K video on the horizon and 8K video now in active development, the size of the media files that we’re going to be downloading is only set to increase and with this so will the demand for improved Internet speeds. The MXC should be capable of dealing with both of these needs effectively.
Destined for the data centre
In the meantime, the new MXC cable is destined for data centres and supercomputers to replace the current 10Gbps copper interconnects used to connect switches and other elements of network hardware. Having access to faster transfer speeds, assuming that data companies will upgrade the other hardware concerned, should help these locations to perform their jobs in a faster and more efficient manner; i.e. if the elements of a supercomputer are able to transfer data between one another faster or work more collaboratively, then we should see results being achieved in a much shorter amount of time.
Rather than seeing an immediate deployment, MXC cables will probably be integrated into the infrastructure of new data centres and older generations of data centres will take advantage of it as existing hardware and configurations are EOL’d.
Production of the new MXC cable is set to begin in Q3 2014.