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Understanding Network Connections

Brett goes in-depth with the different types of network connections that you can have in a storage server (including the Storinator). This video will give an overview of the different network speeds, connectors and cable options that are available to you and your network infrastructure.

Hey everyone, Brett Kelly here for another Tuesday tech tip with 45Drives. This week, we're going to talk about network connections and specifically all the different types of network connections you could have in a storage server, including the 45 Drives storage server.

And in this growing world of faster and faster networks, the standard 1 gig and now (pretty much the new standard) 10 gigabit is not quite fast enough in the standard RJ45, very classic copper Ethernet connection we're all familiar with — is not cutting it. For bigger and bigger speeds there's different protocols and different connection types. And whether it's fiber or copper and this world can be a little confusing.

So, in this video, we're going to walk through the different network speeds, 10 gig, 40 gig, 25 gig, 100 gig, the type of connectors that you have the option of plugging into each, and then the different options of cable types that you can need to plug in. Because everyone's environment is a bit different. People ask all the time. So I figured, why not? I brought some props with me. Let's show you the different types of network connection.

All right, so before we dive into our tickle trunk of network parts here, I just want to give a little bit of a flow class, if you will, of how I'm going to talk about these things.

I'm going to talk about the different network cards which essentially set which speed of your network, whether it's 40, 10 gig, 25 gig, 100 gig. I'm not talking about 1 gig here because we're talking fast. We’re talking form factor. So, like, what's the size of the hole that I have to plug the connection into? Is it RJ45? Is it something else? And then the connection type. Is it fiber? Is a copper? is it a DAC cable? A DAC cable is a direct attach copper. They're pretty nice cables that are just built to plug right into the top of the racks, very commonly used. Anyway, with that out of the way, let's get into all the different parts.

Let's get into our little part showcase here. We'll start with 10 gigabit. Pretty standard nowadays. You're seeing this more and more often. And another reason why it's so great is it works over standard RJ45 copper Ethernet (things that we're most comfortable with).

So (holding up network card), this is an Intel 54T2. This is a standard copper 10 gigabit Ethernet card that we ship in our Storinator. And it runs at 10 Gb speeds. So that's the network speed I talking about. The form factor are these RJ45 holes which most of you have probably seen an ethernet cable before. Plug right in, plugs into your computer, into a switch, whatever. That's this.

But there's more than just copper to plug that in. The other option you have is this SFP+ 10 gigabit card. So, what SFP+ is it stands for a small form factor, pluggable. And really what you can think about this is this is a universal NIC in a way. Meaning that I can only plug RJ45 copper into this thing (Intel 54T2), but I could plug either copper transceiver, so I could still get RJ45, plug that in, that would make it a copper, or I can use short range or long-range fiber and plug it transceiver.

So a universal SFP+ card. The point of the SFP+ is it makes it just what I said, universal. You could do either or with the types. Or instead of those two (you might remember I said DAC cable), you could use a cable like this that has the transceivers built right in. So it plugs right into one of your transceivers and then into the top your switch. So that's how you can do 10 gigabit Ethernet.

Which one is right for you? Well, depends on your switching, really. If you switch has a bunch of RJ45 ports, probably going to want to use this one (holds up Intel 54T2). If your switch has a bunch of SFP+ ports, you're going to want to use the universal card and you really probably going to want to use a DAC cable. Or maybe you want to buy the universal card and use a copper transceiver that works too.

OK, so that's 10 GbE, let's jump right to 40 GbE. You might be wondering why I skipped 25, but I'll kind of answer it right here. So here's 40 gigabit network card. As you can see, there is no copper option after you cross the 10 gig threshold, we go right to SFP. RJ45 copper, she's done after 10 Gb. So just remember that you're not going to see it again.

So you've got that. And these are called Q SFP+. So what they are, you might notice they're just kind of slightly bigger than the other SFP plus card I showed you. It literally stands for quad small form factor pluggable. So what it is, is it's literally four 10 gigabit SFP lanes into one. And that's what makes this a 40 gig card. That's why I kind of skipped 25 because it's the natural evolution after 10 gig, 25 gigabit is actually kind of a newer technology that started to come out after 40 gigabit. Anyway, a lot of places still use 40 gigabit. So if you have 40 gigabit switching or something like that, you most likely have QSFP holes in your switch.

So if that's the case, you're going to want to put one of these (QSFP+) in your Storinator. And how do you plug it in? Well, you can use a fiber transceiver if you need to, and you can plug fiber into that. I always have to be careful, much like USB. I always plug it in upside down the wrong way first. And there we go. There's that.

Or just like the other one, you can buy a DAC cable that very conveniently puts a transceiver on both ends. This is all copper in here. This would plug into this end. You'd think I'd know how to do it because I just did it. The other end goes into your switch. That's 40 gig. You can do fiber, you can do a DAC, SFP+.

OK, 10/40 out of the way, let's move on to 25 gig, one of the newer emerging network speeds that you're seeing in the data center around. So, much like the other ones, kind of boring looking, really big heat sink. And like I said, no RJ45 copper anymore. But we have what looks just like SFP+ connectors. However, they're not just to be confusing. They made them look about the exact same size.

But these are actually SFP 28+ and the designation there is the increased speed that is for the 25 gig card. So I unfortunately don't have any 25 gig fiber transceivers, but you can do it that way so you can do fiber. Or, like I keep bringing up the very easy one, the DAC cable. So the 25 Gb will plug in this and look at me. I think I got it right that time. Yes I did the other end into your switch. So that's how you can do 25 Gb network.

I'm going to dive right into the 100 gigabit because it follows the same concept as it did from 10 to 40. 100 gigabit connection are just really big versions of this (SFP 28+). They are called Q SFP 28+ and it's again like I said, the exact same logic. There are four of these 25 gig lanes into one port.

OK, so that's the lowdown on the different types of network cards, the corresponding speeds, the corresponding size of the connectors they have to plug into them, and the different types of connections that you can use to plug into your NIC and into your switch. I hope you learn something. I hope you enjoyed that. You have any questions at all. You know where to reach us. See you next week.



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