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How Cabling Impacts Sustainability Goals for MTDC Providers

Jun 2022

Data centers consume around 1% of the global electricity supply, which means that MTDC providers face increasing pressure from their tenants to reduce their carbon footprints and work together in advancing sustainability goals. At the same time, changing tenant needs mean that they also need to support a much wider range of computing workloads, leverage more interconnected services, and provide enhanced support for hybrid and distributed cloud architectures.

This is one reason why cooling, which accounts for nearly 37% of the overall data center power consumption according to Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, is the fastest rising data center operation expense, In our previous post, we outlined three steps that MTDCs can take to reduce energy expenses related to cooling. In this post, we’ll explore the role of cabling on energy efficiency, and how cabling can actually help providers deliver the bandwidth tenants are demanding without compromising on sustainability.

A modern MTDC facility that leverages optimized cabling is not just easier to maintain and upgrade — it also reduces energy consumption and minimizes waste. By enhancing access to data, for example, optimized cabling helps provide a granular view into the environmental impact of the data center. It supports better connectivity for sensors and actuators that can balance cooling requirements with computing workloads to avoid overcooling or undercooling the facility. This combination of data-driven insights and automation help streamline data center operations and support the continuous advancement of sustainability goals.

Data center cabling broadly falls into two main categories: Fiber and copper.

  • Fiber optic connectivity

Fiber is reliable and scalable choice for mission-critical infrastructure and high-bandwidth, low-latency applications. Fiber networks can carry a 10 gigabit ethernet (GbE) signal over 12 miles, compared to just 1 GbE over 300 feet for copper-based networks.

However, fiber cables also provide a bevy of sustainability-focused benefits. First, they utilize high-port-density electronics with very low power and cooling requirements compared to copper counter parts, which draw around seven times more energy.

Additionally, an optical network helps to maximize space in racks and cabinets to support high cooling efficiency. The lifecycle of fiber-optic cabling is also between seven and 10 times longer than copper cables, making them significantly more future-proof.

Overall, fiber cables enable lower power consumption, less cooling power consumption, and better air flow than their copper counterparts due to their smaller diameter and increased bend radius. Check out Panduit’s comprehensive fiber optic systems, including cabling, that deliver high performance, reliability, and efficiency for mission-critical MTDC infrastructures. 

  • Copper connectivity

In spite of the advantages of fiber optic cabling, copper cabling remains the backbone of the data center environment. One reason why? Copper cables support all of the most common connected devices in use today, including wireless technologies like routers, range extenders, and distributed antenna systems.

For MTDC providers, copper cables can be more practical for providing connections within the data center itself, since distances are shorter, and the material cost is much lower than with fiber cabling. Furthermore, optimized copper cabling can even reduce energy consumption more than fiber over shorter distances due to their thermal designs requiring less cooling.

Another clear advantage of copper cabling is that it can support power-over-Ethernet (PoE), which is essential for low-power devices that would otherwise require batteries or additional power sources and consumption such as environmental sensors and actuators. Panduit offers a full line of innovative copper products to support all of today's most common IP applications including PoE and Wireless technologies, including MaTrix cables which feature smaller diameters and improved PoE performance compared to traditional UTP cables. In fact, the TX6A™ Vari-MaTriX HD Category 6A cable is the smallest on the market today.

In summary, with fiber and copper cabling and infrastructure designed for the modern MTDC facility, providers can build an environment that supports all of today’s most common IP applications using IP and wireless technologies. This is the third post in our series focused on sustainability strategies, solutions, and success stories for MTDC providers. Be sure to subscribe above for updates so you don’t miss out on upcoming insights. You can also visit our website to learn more about our sustainability-focused solutions for MTDCs and our other Environment, Social, and Governance initiatives designed to empower our customers, our partners and employees to succeed in a sustainable and connected world. For example, every Panduit manufacturing facility maintains a quality management system consistent with its products. In addition, they each maintain ISO 9001 certificates awarded by respected third-party registrars, along with certifications to other applicable industry quality standards. We also maintain certification to ISO 14001 and have earned certification as a member of the Sony Green Partner Program.


Jeff Paliga