Optimize Your Data Center with 400 Gig Breakouts

Posted by Troy Snobecy on Aug 17th 2021

Optimize Your Data Center with 400 Gig Breakouts


In out last blog on using duplex and MPO connectivity together , we talked about breakout applications and the advantages of supporting multiple lower-speed connections from a single port to maximize port utilization and switch density.

Breakout applications are where new small form factor duplex connectors like SN and MDC connectors have their sweet spot. Let’s take a look some of the breakout options with these connectors that can optimize your data center.

Leveraging 4 in 1

The smaller the width of a fiber connector, the more connectors can fit into a single rack unit space. Smaller duplex connectors are ideal for breakout applications that support more duplex connections per port. As an example, let’s consider a data center leveraging 400GBASE-DR4 to break out to four 100 Gig connections. A 64-port 400 Gig switch, such as 4-slot Cisco Nexus 9500, can therefore support 256 duplex 100 Gig connections. You’d need 8 fiber panels to create a cross connect if using a traditional LC panel with 72 duplex ports per 1U. But if you use SN or MDC connectivity, you can get away with half the number of panels! But there’s another significant advantage of using SN and MDC connectors—the quad factor.


400GBASE-DR4 is a 4-lane application supported by MPO-8 connectors, or MPO-12 with four unused fibers. For breakout applications, that means using MPO-to-duplex cassettes or hybrid fan-out cords with an MPO to four duplex connectors. MPO-to-duplex cassettes are ideal for a cross-connect scenario, where switches connect to the back of cassettes in an equipment panel and duplex connectors at the front of the panel enable easy patching to the distribution panel for superior flexibility and manageability. But what if you want to implement an interconnect design where switch ports patch directly to a distribution panel?

As discussed in our last blog, hybrid fan-out cords are one option, but if anything goes wrong, you’ve now got to take four ports offline. SN and MDC quads however fit into a single transceiver, optimizing port utilization, and eliminating the need for fan-out cords. That makes them ideal for supporting 4X100 Gig breakout applications.


Solutions like our 1U HD8² ultra-high-density patch panel outfitted with SN or MDC connectors enable fast and easy patching from switches in these break-out applications.

Ideal for Creating an Optical Mesh Network

Because four SN and MDC connectors can fit in a single QSFP-DD transceiver, they also support point-to-point configurations for creating an optical mesh topology (or commonly called an optical cross-connect network) used in switch fabric architectures where every switch connects to every other switch. This is ideal for interconnecting multiple leaf switches via a single port without the need for any fiber panels or hybrid fan-out cords as shown below.


While ideal for establishing the optical mesh, we don’t recommend point-to-point connections for switch-to-server links or spine-to-leaf switch connections because they significantly limit flexibility and manageability and prevent being able to keep switches separate and secure. In contrast, structured cabling implementations using fiber panels like our 1U HD8² ultra-high-density solution provides convenient fiber patching and the ability to reconfigure links at the panel without having to access sensitive switch ports.

To 800 Gig and Beyond

Technology is continuing to advance, and it likely won’t be long before optics consortiums develop new interfaces for 8-lane applications that will support 800 Gig as 800GBASE-DR8 using MPO-16 connectors. That’s even more fiber density to worry about—especially in 8X100 Gig breakout deployments. That certainly bodes well for the SN and MDC connectors in patching areas. And when and if encoding schemes advance to support 200 Gb/s per lane signaling rates, we’re looking at 4-lane/ 8-fiber 800 Gig application and potentially an 8-lane/16-fiber 1.6 Terabit application where SN and MDC connectors will still have a home.

Thankfully our HD8² CS ultra-high density system is available with whatever connectivity you need for your multimode or singlemode fiber breakout application—whether it’s 100 Gig 4X25 or 2x50, 200 Gig 4X50, or 400 Gig 8X50 or 4x100. And with high-performance elite MTP connectors in 8, 12, 16, 24, or 32 fiber counts, standard LC connectors, Senko CS and SN connectors and US Conec MDC connectors, we’re also ready for 800 G.

If you'd like to talk through your specific application or for guidance, we can do that too! just contact us at or 866-678-5852.

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