MTP/MPO Cabling System: A Panacea for Data Centers

June 6, 2013

The unceasing demand for higher bandwidth has triggered the cabling system to build ever-faster links in data centers. MTP/MPO cabling system that adopts MTP/MPO assemblies is becoming the default cabling solution for various data centers, which supports faster speed and higher performance throughout the network. In most cases, we'll just use "MTP" for convenience. This article will explain the necessity and significance of the high-density MTP cabling system and present some of the important MTP assemblies.

The Background Introduction of MTP Cabling System

Traditionally, tight-buffered multi-fiber cable needs to have each fiber individually terminated by a skilled technician. The advanced MTP cables with MTP connectors carry multiple fibers in pre-terminated styles. These pre-terminated MTP cables can house up to 72 fibers with 12-fiber and 24-fiber arrays being the most common, in forms of male versions (with pins) or female versions (without pins). The MTP technology emerges to accommodate a higher volume of fibers, which is a perfect fit for a data center with the requirements of high density and high performance.

MTP Cabling Solutions: The Trend of Data Centers

Since the LC cabling system is no longer able to satisfy the demands for higher data rates and higher density in large-scale data centers, some of the IT architects are apt to MTP cabling solutions—an optimal solution designed for the trend of a high-speed, high-density, and well-organized cabling. Let's see what we can benefit from the MTP cabling system:

  • Boosting stability and durability

  • The current MTP connectors can minimize accidental signal instability and boost durability to some degree, due to the innovative design of the floating ferrule in the connectors.

  • Providing high-density and scalability

  • Today's MTP connectors meet the stringent Telcordia (formerly Bellcore) standards for carrier-grade demands and decades of use in various applications, addressing the challenge of fitting more fibers into smaller spaces. For instance, the placement of a 1U housing with duplex connections can hold 144 fibers, while the MTP housing was capable of holding 864 fibers—six times the capacity.

  • Investing less time & effort to realize the best ROI

  • If it's required to terminate and test 144 fibers, it may cost a full day for the IT installers. However, with MTP connectors, 12 to 24 fibers with the snap of a tool will squeeze the whole installation time into a couple of hours. What's more, if adopting the plug-and-play pre-terminated cable, the installation process will be more time-saving and effortless. Consequently, the workforce and maintenance fee is reduced accordingly.

  • Realizing the network upgrade

  • Besides the direct connections between 40G-40G, 100G-100G, 200G-200G, 400G-400G, MTP cabling system can also be applied for upgrading and uplinking connections. For upgrading situations, the migration from the prevailing 10G cabling to 40G/100G/120G and faster networks is not uncommon. MTP cabling system is ready to provide a reliable and cost-effective solution for integrating legacy 10G to higher-speed Ethernet when migrating. For uplinking cases, the uplinking between devices with different operating speeds will also be realized through MTP cabling like 25G to 100G, 50G to 200G/400G, 100G to 400G, and 200G to 400G.

  • Creating an organized rack cabling

  • The MTP structured cabling that provides a hierarchical infrastructure will offer more versatile connection points through distribution areas, which can settle the commonplace cable clutter issue. If it is predictable to have future growth in the data centers, installing a structured MTP cabling system will offer a long-lasting solution, which is built to evolve alongside the data center, like mentioned before, that keeps pace with your needs.

    MTP adapter cassette for high-density cabling.jpg

MTP Cable Products: Various Options for Different Needs

There exists a broad array of MTP cabling assemblies to fit different application demands, including MTP cables, MTP fiber cassettes, and MTP-LC breakout panels, which will be illustrated respectively.

MTP Cables

MTP Trunk Cable

MTP trunk cable terminated with the same amount and type of the MTP connectors on both ends works to connect modules together as a permanent link. It is well-suited to meet the high-density request—normally accommodate 8, 12, 16, 24, 32, 48, and 72 fibers. The application scenarios are typically twofold: the direct connection for optical modules like 40GBASE-SR4/PLR4, 100GBASE-SR4/SR10, 200GBASE-SR8, and 400GBASE-SR8; the interconnection by getting cassettes and panels involved to accomplish structured cabling, which can help to facilitate the rapid deployment of high-density backbone cabling in high-density environments.

MTP Breakout Cable

MTP breakout cable, also known as MTP-LC harness cable, has a single MTP connector on one end that breaks out into 4, 6, 8 or 12 LC connectors (can be LC, SC, ST, etc.), providing a transition from multi-fiber cables to simplex or duplex connectors. Matched with OM3, OM4 or single mode fibers, the cable lengths can be a few meters or customized to be longer. MTP harness cable offers a reliable, cost-effective cabling option for 10G-40G, 25G-100G, 10G-120G migrations, etc.

MTP harness cable.jpg

MTP Conversion Cable

Sharing the same fanout design with MTP breakout cable, MTP conversion cable, however, is terminated with MTP connectors on both ends. Note that, the MTP connectors on each end are different in fiber counts and types, which can provide more possibilities for the existing 24-fiber cabling system. The MTP conversion cables use 24 fibers and come in different variations for different applications, like 1x24 fibers to 2x12 fibers, 1x24 to 3x8, and 3x8 to 2x12.

MTP Adapters & Adapter Panels

MTP adapters are used as an accessory for MTP patch cords. Two types of key orientation: aligned key (up to up) & opposed key (up to down). Both of them provide the connection between cable to cable or cable to equipment in the MTP style, which are widely used in trunk cabling and cassettes. As an upgraded structure with a security plate, more adapters are plugged into the "MTP adapter panel." The MTP adapter panel pre-loaded with fiber adapters that serve as the intermediate connection between the backbone and the patch cable can provide a more stable, compact solution for the network.

adatper panel.jpg

MTP Fiber Cassettes

MTP fiber cassette modules are enclosed units that contain 12 or 24 fibers and have LC connectors (or other 2-fiber connector types) on the front side and MTP connector at the rear, which enables users to take the fibers brought by a trunk cable and distribute them to duplex patch cables. Fit with rack mount enclosures, the MTP cassette allows for the rapid deployment of high-density data center infrastructure and supports improved troubleshooting and reconfiguration during management.

MTP Cassette.jpg

MTP-LC Breakout Panels

The pre-terminated 96-fiber MTP-LC breakout panels are designed to mount into 19" wide racks, which allows 96 fibers to be deployed in 1U without additional support infrastructure. When deploying 10G-40G, 25G-100G network connections: use MTP cables to connect the 40G/100G switches to the rear ports of the panel, then add duplex LC cables to connect the 10G/25G devices to the breakout panel's front ports. This MTP-LC breakout patch panel is designed with a removable cable management plate at the back, which effectively simplifies trunk cable organization, facilitates installation and reduces cable clutter.

MTP-LC breakout panel.jpg


Data centers are striding forward to support increasingly faster speeds and higher density throughout the network with the deployment of 40G/100G/200G/400G, and the legacy LC cabling is proven to fail to handle the density needs. Since MTP cabling meets the trend and provides a time-saving, space-saving, and cost-effective solution with superior stability and higher density, it has paved the way for establishing high-performance networks in data centers. The relevant MTP cabling assemblies have also developed as optimum choices for the interconnection and the migration for higher speeds.

Updated on March 9, 2020


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