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  Forum Index - Guides - Fibre Networking
Author Initial Thread

Joined: Oct 26, 2006
Posts: 323
Post Subject: Fibre Networking
Posted on: Aug 14, 2008

First I want to dedicate this to my good friend Mike Dast who passed away earlier this year to brain cancer.
He worked for several telco companies and taught me a huge chunk of what I know about fibre and fibre trunking.

So why choose fibre?
3000 meter distances are no problem.
No RF interference issues.
Extremely high theoretical throughput.

More expensive. (Not as bad as just 5 years ago)
Not very flexible. (Greater care in handling)
Not easily customizable in length.

I will start with handling.
Professional data centers have an aluminum shelf they lay fibre runs on top of.
For home purposes this is ridiculous, because you probably are only going to run one or two runs. A shelf dedicated to a few cables is silly. I found half inch conduit to work great for running fibre, but only LC connectors will fit, so keep that in mind. (More on that later)

I used large eye bolts to screw into the sil plate of the house and simply slid the conduit through it.
You can screw the eye bolts into any wood surface easily. The conduit will protect and support the weight of the fibre. In my experience the most common location for glass breaks are located closer to the connectors, but that doesn't mean you can't have a break in the middle of the glass either.
I fed an eighth inch nylon cord through the conduit using compressed air to shoot through the long runs. Once through I attached the cord to the fibre with masking tape and VERY gently fed it through. Use standard conduit extenders to join your sections of conduit together. This run pictured is 60 feet in length.

Types of connectors.
I will Focus on SC and LC. There are others, but most have been phased out.
SC is pictured on the left and is the larger (older) style connector. As you can see it will not fit through a standard half inch conduit. The LC pictured on the right is the most current and its low profile makes it particularly useful for manufactures needing silicon real estate.
You will need to match your connectors to where they will go.
Make sure to purchase your cables correctly.

The most affordable network cards you will find out there will typically use SC connectors.
This Intel gigabit card is pretty standard fare and fairly easy to find on E-bay. Buy-it-now for $35. Search for 'Intel Fibre Nic'.

PCI-X is REQUIRED! Sorry folks at this level you will still need the older
PCI-X standard slot. Most Dell Poweredge servers have at least one slot. I like the 4600 series pictured here above the LCD monitor between the two backup switches. On the work station side ASUS makes a workstation mobo that I really like. The P5E WS Professional has one PCI-X slot and will acomodate this card. I used this mobo for the four most used workstations in the house.

A little topology.
I'm using fibre as my main backbone with no public, or internet connection to it. I have segmented it completely from my standard Cat 6 backbone. I believe this gives me a better redundant solution as opposed to not segmenting it. All the thick red lines represent fibre. This topology map only represents 'active' traffic and not a complete map. I show you this, because it can become confusing if you start running two networks as to what connects to what and where. I also have a Xyratex 1600-FC SAN which I connect to with a Brocade switch and a few HBA's. (More on that later)

I prefer UN-managed switches to managed. I know I just pissed off a bunch of Cisco folks, but over time I find it is easier to segment with hardware and keep a duplicate on the shelf than restoring config file(s) and constantly facing hardware revisions that make the existing config file(s) buggy.
Yes it is more expensive, but I could talk my mom through it over the phone if I needed to.
My two favorites are the Dell Powerconnect 2724 and 5224. The 2624 is great for just starting out.
Again smart E-bay shoppers can get these for around $100.

Don't be confused by FC-AL switches when hunting for switches on E-bay.
FC-AL is another different monster all together. Here is a Brocade switch for FC-AL.

Gbic's. (Gigabit Interface Converter)
No it's not light from end to end. Gbic's convert the light to electrical signals and vice versa. I can't believe how cheap these have become. A year ago I would expect to pay $60 each, today you can buy 30 of them for a buck. Again on E-bay.

By using older hardware I saved a huge amount.
I would say I have spent no more than $500 on getting what I needed
to get up and running.

Please feel free to ask any questions.

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Dayton Metro PC Owner

Joined: Jul 24, 2007
Posts: 1235
Post Subject: subject
Posted on: Aug 14, 2008

so your only running Fibre in the backbone and the servers, right? then Cat6(gigabit) to the PCs in your home, right? or are you actually running fibre all over the house?

Core2 Quad Extreme QX96500-ES @ 3Ghz, 4gb Patriot DDR2-1066Mhz RAM, 4gb Intel Turbo Memory, 3x 500GB WD Blue drives, Samsung DVD-RW, GTX 560ti-1gb Gfx card.
Future Mods: none for Freshwater. Next build will be all new.
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Joined: Oct 26, 2006
Posts: 323
Post Subject: subject
Posted on: Aug 14, 2008

I'm running a segmented fibre network to a total of 5 machines currently, including the server. Fibre end to end. The workstations are located all over the house.
Those machines are also connected to a Cat6 network.
The fibre network is for the bulk of the file serving and the Cat6 handles
the internet traffic and the public side.
In case of a failure of the Cat6 network, I can reroute the internet through
to the fibre side, but that is also why I have spare switches on the shelf, to prevent the need to.
You can start with a fibre backbone and increase your speed between two switches to start. That is where I started. Then as you acquire workstations that can take a fibre connection, or can take a PCI-X card, you can port them directly.
In my topology map, the top left workstation, Maximus is directly connected with fibre to the fibre network and Cat6 to the Cat6 network and also is connected with fibre to the SAN directly.
My topology map needs to be updated. I show it only as an example.
Sloppy administrator Sorry about that. I need to add the other workstations fibre connections.

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