MTP®/MPO Cabling in Spine-Leaf Architecture

Updated on Jul 30, 2022

More and more data centers are opting for spine-leaf architecture that offers high-speed network performance and solid reliability. Despite all its advantages, spine-leaf architecture presents challenges in terms of structured cabling. This article explains the shift from classical three-tier architecture to modern spine-leaf architecture, challenges for cabling in spine-leaf architecture, and how MTP®/MPO cabling simplifies spine-leaf architecture.

From Classical Three-Tier to Modern Spine-Leaf

Due to its simple algorithm and cheap manufacturing costs, Ethernet has been driving the advancement of internet development and data centers. Along with its efficiency, Ethernet also has some downsides when the network size grows. That is where classical three-tier architecture comes up short.

In a network that consists of multiple Ethernet switches, a technology called spanning tree protocol (STP) is used so as to prevent broadcast packages such as address resolution protocol (ARP) requests from flooding and looping around the network. However, to stop loops happening in the network running on STP, STP blocks redundant links which are used as failover in the event of main link failures. Though the resiliency of classical three-tier architecture improves, there is only half the utilization of the available bandwidth. In addition, networks running on STP have limited room for growth, and results in latency if the network size is big.

shortcomings of three-tier architecture

Spine-leaf architecture is the solution to these problems. The backbone of this network architecture is called the spine. Each leaf switch is connected to each spine switch. It allows the network to grow uniformly by simply adding more spine or leaf switches without any chance of network performance. Thus a 16-way spine-leaf architecture can scale to support up to 100,000 10Gb Ethernet hosts.

spine-leaf architecture

Challenges for Cabling in Spine-Leaf Architecture

To design a spine-leaf architecture, it is necessary to lay fiber optic cables from each leaf switch to each spine switch. This translates into an immense amount of cables and great effort in cable installing and management. In a worst-case scenario, it can remind you of early data centers where messy bundles of fiber optic cables lay piled up high.

Fiber optic cables run from the servers to leaf switches and then to spine switches. In this way, all the leaf-switch ports are connected to all the spine-switch ports. All these cables have to deal with the maximum bit rates of the transceivers, servers and switches. It is not hard to see that using cables for a point-to-point connection demands too much effort in terms of both installation and maintenance. Data centers are seeking a consolidated cabling system with distributors that can simplify network connections in spine-leaf architecture.

How MTP®/MPO Cabling Simplifies Spine-Leaf Architecture

MTP®/MPO cabling provides a way to meeting the challenges mentioned above. It not only makes spine-leaf architecture planning easier and more structured in advance but also reduces subsequent installation requirements in materials, time and effort. MTP®/MPO cabling includes a range of MTP®/MPO products.

MPO/MTP cables can combine 8, 12, 16, or 24 fibers in a single interface. In addition, the MTP/MPO cable connectors can accommodate 8, 12, 16, or 24 fiber in the same area needed for an LC or SC connector, effectively saving card and rack space. MTP®/MPO cassettes can snap quickly into enclosures and modular design, making it easier to deploy or expand your existing infrastructure as your future network speed rates grow. Easy-to-install singlemode or multimode MTP®/MPO patch panels with16x 16 or 32x 32 spine/leaf ports can greatly cut down on the number of connections required in a mesh topology.

With fewer connections and lower insertion loss, MTP®/MPO cabling significantly increases redundant Ethernet cross connections, and reduces cable clutter, installation time, and the overall cost of the installation in spine-leaf architecture.


Modern spine-leaf architecture must provide an efficient cabling system in order to meet the high requirements for higher data transmission rates and minimized latencies. MTP®/MPO cabling will continue to play an essential role in empowering spine-leaf architecture as it offers a way to greatly reduce the complexity and connectivity costs for your spine-leaf network fabric.

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