September 2017

Comparison of Two Commonly Used Network Cables: Cat5e vs. Cat6

26. september 2017 at 12:18
If you are reading this article, I assume you are undecided between Cat5e and Cat6-the most commonly used network cables used to connect network devices to a router or a switch. Understandably, there is much confusion in the market about which cable is better and why. Here are some helpful bits of information which can help you to decide which is right for you.
coloful network cables
About Cat5e
Category 5 enhanced cabling, also known as Cat5e, is an improvement on Cat5 cabling. Cat5e Ethernet adheres to more stringent IEEE standards. Cat5e is a common type of cabling used for deployments due to its ability to support Gigabit speeds at a cost-effective price. Even though both Cat5 and Cat5e support a maximum frequency of up to 100MHz, Cat5e has completely replaced its predecessor. Gigabit Ethernet utilizes 4 data pairs in comparison to Fast Ethernet which utilizes 2 data pairs.

About Cat6
Cat6 cabling is the next step up from Cat5e and includes a few more improvements. Cat6 wiring can support up to 10 Gbps and frequencies of up to 250 MHz. While Cat5e cable features 1.5-2 twists per cm, Cat6 cables are more tightly wound and feature 2 or more twists per cm. (The amount of twists per cm varies upon each cable manufacturer).

Similarity Between Cat5e and Cat6
It is worth noting that both Cat5 and Cat6 cables utilize the same end piece, i.e. they can "plug in" to the same ports. The "end" that all the cables have in common is known as RJ-45, and it is capable of plugging into any Ethernet jack on a computer, router, or another similar device.

Differences Between Cat5e and Cat6
cat5e vs cat6
Physical Differences
Cable twisting was invented by Alexander Graham Bell in 1881 for use on telephone wires that were run along side power lines. He discovered that by twisting the cable every 3-4 utility poles, it reduced the interference and increased the range. There are two main physical differences between Cat-5 and Cat-6 cables, the number of twists per cm in the wire, and sheath thickness. Typically there are 1.5-2 twists per cm in Cat-5(e) and 2+ twists per cm in Cat-6. And Cat6 cables are often thicker than Cat5e because it uses thicker copper wires.

Speed1000Mbps10 Gbps over 37-55 meters of cable
Frequency100MHz250 MHz
Maximum Cable Length100 meters100 meters for slower network speeds (up to 1,000 Mbps) and higher network speeds over short distances. For Gigabit Ethernet, 55 meters max
Standard Gauges in Conductors24-26 AWG wire22-24 AWG wire
PerformanceCat6Lower crosstalk, return loss and insertion loss, higher signal-to-noise ratio

Both Cat5e and Cat6 cable allow lengths up to 100 meters, but Cat6 has a lower max length (55 meters) when used for 10GBASE-T. The main difference between Cat5e and Cat6 lies in the transmission performance. Cat6 has an internal separator that lowers interference or near end crosstalk (NEXT). It also improves equal level far end crosstalk (ELFEXT), return loss and insertion loss compared with Cat5e. As a result, Cat6 has a higher signal-to-noise ratio than Cat5e.

The price of Ethernet cables vary by length, manufacturer and seller. In general, Cat6 cables are 10-20% more expensive compared with Cat5e cables. However, FS.COM offers both cheaper and good quality Cat5e and Cat6 cables compared to other brands, and all the cables can be customized according to personal needs. Cables are generally cheap and the speed boost offered by FS.COM Cat6 cables usually makes the price premium well worth it, even for home use.

Cat5e vs. Cat6: Which One Should I Choose?
In a nutshell, the Cat6 specification is better suited toward environments that are generally unfriendly to twisted pair cabling. This includes areas that have lots of interference from things like power lines, lights, and manufacturing equipment. Still, for most applications, Cat5e is perfectly suitable and preferable to Cat6: it is more economical and performs almost as well. However, if you can be certain that all the components on your network are gigabit rated, and the volume of the data being transmitted calls for certified gigabit performance, then Cat6 is the way to go.

This post mainly explains the similarity and difference between Cat5e and Cat6 network cables. I hope it will be helpful to you if you are planning to install network cables.

What Is Layer 2, Layer 3, and Layer 4 Network Switch?

22. september 2017 at 10:03
With the rapid development of computer networks over the last decade, high-end switching has become one of the most important functions of a network for moving data efficiently and quickly from one place to another. For years, the average network has been dominated by the Layer 2 switch. Now as network complexity increases and applications demand greater functions from the network, Layer 3 and layer 4 network switches are coming out of the data center and high level enterprise settings. This post will introduce them respectively.

What Is A Network Switch?
A network switch (also called switching hub, bridging hub, officially MAC bridge) is a computer networking device that connects devices together on a computer network by using packet switching to receive, process, and forward data to the destination device.

A network switch is a multiport network bridge that uses hardware addresses to process and forward data at the data link layer (layer 2) of the OSI model. Some switches can also process data at the network layer (layer 3) by additionally incorporating routing functionality that most commonly uses IP addresses to perform packet forwarding; such switches are commonly known as layer-3 switches or multilayer switches.
FS 100G Ethernet Switch
Layer 2 Network Switch (The Data-Link Layer)
Layer 2 network switches operate using the data link (MAC) layer addresses. Link-layer, hardware, or MAC-layer addresses identify individual devices. Most hardware devices are permanently assigned this number during the manufacturing process.

The main function of a Layer 2 is to help the traffic from devices within a LAN reach each other. A Layer 2 switch does this by keeping a table of all the MAC addresses it has learned and what physical port they can be found on. The MAC address is something that operates within Layer 2 of the OSI model (what defines how networks operate). Traffic being switched by MAC address is isolated within the LAN those devices are using. When you need traffic to cross between LANs (or VLANs) is when we need a Layer 3 device.

Layer 3 Network Switch (The Network Layer)
Layer 3 ntwork switches use network or IP addresses that identify locations on the network. A location can be a LAN workstation, a location in a computer's memory, or even a different packet of data traveling through a network.

The most common Layer 3 device used in a network is the router. A router is able to look into the Layer 3 portion of traffic passing through it (the source and destination IP addresses) to decide how it should pass that traffic along. Since a router holds information about multiple networks (LAN WAN VLAN) it is also able to pass traffic along between these networks. This is routing. The Layer 3 switch functionally exists somewhere between being a Layer 2 switch and being a Gateway Router. It can be best described by what more it does compared to a Layer 2 switch and what less it does compared to a Gateway Router.

Layer 4 Network Switch (The Transport Layer)
Layer 4 of the OSI Model coordinates communications between systems. Layer 4 switches are capable of identifying which application protocols (HTTP, SNTP, FTP, and so forth) are included with each packet, and they use this information to hand off the packet to the appropriate higher-layer software. A layer 4 network switch enables policy based switching mechanisms that limits different traffic types and prioritizes packets based on their base application importance. A layer 4 switch is among the types of multilayer switches, and is an enhancement to the layer 3 switch that uses hardware based switching techniques.

Layer 4 switches also provide an effective wire-speed security shield for your network because any company- or industry-specific protocols can be confined to only authorized switched ports or users. This security feature is often reinforced with traffic filtering and forwarding features.

As the layers increase in switches, so does the CPU power and processing time (latency) of the switch. The trade-off for more control and capabilities in a higher layer switch is less speed and increased power consumption. Lower layer switches are faster and use less processing power. Therefore, choosing a switch that matches your network needs creates maximum networking efficiency.