MTP®/MPO module cassette

MTP®/MPO cabling systems continue to ride the wave of success


A data center classic: MTP® connector systems have optimized the processes then as well as today

The development cycles in the IT industry are becoming shorter and shorter - in line with the motto: faster, higher, further. What was hype yesterday is already outdated today. Misguided developments cannot be ruled out. A lot of money is squandered in the process.

This does not apply to all areas of IT, because the cabling industry, for example, is taking a somewhat calmer approach. In this area, the emphasis is on experience and the continuous development of approved solutions. After all, the cabling in every data center is the backbone for continuous operation and smooth data exchange. Experiments are not called for in this context.

In this respect copper is still a classic. However, fiber optic cabling has also become an integral part of the IT world. It is hardly known that IBM has made a significant contribution to the success story of fiber optics. With the commissioning of the development of the MTP® technology, "Big Blue" initiated a special development history in the field of connectors in the 1990s. MTP® connector systems have optimized the processes in data centers then as well as today. And cabling pioneer Rosenberger OSI is still continuing this success story.


Great achievements are the products of many minds

The creation of legends does not stop at the various segments of IT. For instance, alleged authors like to claim paternity for one or the other product as well as for innovative or even revolutionary solutions. The truth sometimes falls by the wayside. Technological highlights do not always come directly from the developers, who claim authorship. Often solutions have a much longer history and an origin that hardly anyone knows anymore - because IT is notoriously fast moving. This is irritating for the developers, who have done pioneering work and actually laid the foundation for a groundbreaking development or a spectacular product in the past. They fall into oblivion, while others undeservedly collect the laurels.

The developments around the glass fiber are an example of this. It is worth taking a look into the past to understand the development history and success of fiber optic data cabling. It is also possible to reconstruct the progress that has been made in this field within just a few years.


Innovative development work

State-of-the-art cables and the corresponding components are the framework for every infrastructure in all companies worldwide today. The performance of the cabling has been continuously improved thanks to innovative development work. Today, the hidden helpers in the raised floors and cable support systems of data centers ensure high availability, security and, last but not least, a continuous flow of data. Modern cabling structures therefore play a decisive role in organizations' business processes and thus also in their economic stability. This is often underestimated.

One of the secret stars in the segment of fiber optic cabling for data centers is the MTP®/MPO module cassette. It is worthwhile to take a look into the past, because this solution has a long (for the IT sector) history. The origins of the MTP®/MPO module cassette go back to the beginning of the 1990s. At that time the company US Conec started on the initiative of the IT giant IBM to develop a push-pull connector system around the 12-fiber MT ferrule. At that time, this had already been a successful product on the market for 10 years. This multi-fiber connector system was introduced to the market under the US Conec brand MTP®.


Teamwork is the key to success

In 1995 the MTP® pioneers Siecor (Siemens Corning Joint Venture) and OSI (today Rosenberger OSI) initiated the development of the first MTP® cabling system for data centers, called IBM FTS. They were supported by US Conec. IBM FTS was launched in 1997 and was based on factory-assembled trunk cables with up to 144 fibers equipped with the appropriate number of 12-fiber MTP® connectors on both sides. To enable the 12 fibers of the MTP® connectors to be implemented on six individual ESCON duplex channels (called port breakout today), Siecor and OSI developed the first MTP® module cassettes and harnesses.

MTP® pioneer Harald Jungbäck, today product manager for data center cabling systems at Rosenberger OSI, recalls: "The MTP® cabling system IBM FTS was not only the first of its kind, but also far ahead of its time". He was involved in the development of the first MTP® cabling system from the very beginning and has accompanied the different development stages of this groundbreaking cabling technology to the present day. For Harald Jungbäck this was an exciting time, in which he and his team acquired a lot of experience, but which was also exhausting, because development work is not restricted to normal office hours.

However, the effort was worth it, he concludes: "With this solution, the 17 Mbit/s of the ESCON protocol could be transmitted up to 2 km over a multimode fiber with a core diameter of 62.5 µm. At that time, the multimode MTP® connections still had a maximum insertion loss of 1.2 [dB], but this was reduced to a maximum of 0.35 [dB] many years ago by the development of the Elite® ferrule quality from US Conec.


Revolution in the data center

The advantages of the new technology were all but revolutionary in the second half of the 1990s. Data center operators quickly recognized this and responded in large numbers to the new cabling technology. The use of the young MTP® connector, for example, enabled previously unimaginable short "plug-and-play" installation times in data center cabling. This resulted in significantly reduced project times and faster availability of the infrastructure. Similarly, the flexibility for Moves, Adds and Changes (MAC) increased to the highest possible level at that time.

The new technology also had an impact on maintenance or repairs. The replacement of MTP® module cassettes or harnesses or the change of the patch plug system on the front were all of a sudden nearly a breeze, were simple, fast and inexpensive. For more than two decades, for example, the change from ESCON to SC duplex, or from SC duplex to LC duplex, briefly also the MT-RJ as patch connector system was almost a kind of standard. "For us and our cooperation partners it was and still is valid: Quality is not negotiable", says MTP® pioneer Jungbäck.


Market on the rise - MTP®/MPO technology with high market acceptance

Due to the many advantages and the high rationalization potential, this type of fiber optic cabling system has quickly and very successfully established itself in the market. The demand was great and the market was in a rising trend. Due to its high market acceptance, the MTP® was also standardized as MPO in IEC 61754-7 in 2000. This attracted the attention of other suppliers, too. Competitors of Siecor and OSI also wanted to use the advantages of the solution for their products and started to develop MTP®/MPO cabling systems around the turn of the millennium.

However, Rosenberger OSI is not only a pioneer of the MTP®/MPO technology, but has also consistently developed it further and adapted it to current needs. The decades of experience of the developers are continuously incorporated into the working process.

And the development history, which Rosenberger OSI initiated with the MTP®/MPO technology, is being updated and continuously incorporated into new solutions. One example is 400GBASE-SR8, which analysts consider to be one of the fast-growing applications in data centers. Rosenberger OSI has 2020 PreCONNECT® SEDECIM in its portfolio, a system based on a 16-fiber MTP®/MPO connector. As a 16-fiber multimode OM4 variant, with one MTP®/MPO 16 port on the back and eight LC duplex ports on the front, the MTP®/MPO module cassette is now also suitable for port breakout of PreCONNECT® SEDECIM trunk cables assembled with MTP®/MPO 16.


Rosenberger OSI is generally well positioned and future-proof in the field of MTP®/MPO cabling systems. With PreCONNECT® DUODECIM, PreCONNECT® OCTO and PreCONNECT® SEDECIM, as well as the matching 19" panel systems, a broad portfolio is available that can cover the needs of numerous applications throughout the entire evolution of MTP®/MPO cabling systems.

Are you planning to upgrade your data center with fiber optics? Or have you already gained experience with fiber optic cabling?