Page 88 - 2020 Interconnect Innovations eBook
P. 88

Innovations in High-Density and Dust-Insensitive Fiber Optic Connectors
Rosenberger North America
The challenges of increasing density, maintaining cleanliness, and preventing damage to fiber optic interfaces have existed since the earliest days of fiber connectivity. In the 1980s, the first duplex connectors arrived, followed by dual fiber connectors, and then in the 1990s, higher fiber count MT connectors appeared. These advancements packed more fibers into a smaller space, addressing the need to save space and lower costs, primarily in the patching area. Today, the equipment side has been tasked with delivering ever increasing data rates while addressing challenges in ensuring redundant connection paths without compromising real estate or complexity. Along with these increased fiber counts comes the challenge of maintaining cleanliness and minimizing maintenance to ensure the highest levels of performance and reliability. These demands have led the industry to develop new types of connectors to improve density and minimize or eliminate the impact of dirty connections. These innovations address our next generation of networks while also laying the groundwork for advancements in on-board optics and viable fiber backplane and midplane solutions.
Smaller Form Factor Connectors
It has been 50 years since the first optical fiber met the requirements for communication applications. Since then, numerous advancements have refined optical fiber technology with regard to loss, bandwidth, distance, bend insensitivity, and other factors. Optical connectors lagged a few years behind but had a similar pattern of advancements, with the first connectors being little more than a glorified pin vice to the later, purpose-built, lathe- turned connectors that ensured fiber centering to the precision-manufactured and molded ferrules that we have today. Along that journey, connectors got smaller and more precise. In the early 2000s, we witnessed the Small Form Factor Battle, in which a multitude of small form factor (SFF) fiber optic connectors competed to be the de facto SFF standard, with the LC duplex ultimately winning. Since that time, advancement in fiber connectivity footprints has been limited to minor tweaks intended to increase performance and reliability. For the past 20 years or so, MPO/MTP multifiber connectors and LC duplex connectors have dominated the fiber connectivity space for enterprise and data center equipment and patching needs.

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