Recabling The Cluster

Background, back in the day we had slow network speeds of 10 Megabits per second (10 Mb/s). The specification is UTP Category 3 shortened to Cat3. That’s about half the speed of normal home type WiFi. (We’re not counting dial-up modem connections.)

That moved up to 100 Mb/s (Cat5) which is obviously 10 times faster than 10 Mb/s. And more current is 1000 Mb/s or 1 Gb/s (Gigabit Ethernet) (Cat5E) and even 10000 Mb/s or 10 Gb/s (Cat6). Super fast.

For servers in a cluster, a 10 Gb/s network card means I can move data between servers at very high speeds. Most desktop connections nowadays are likely at the 1 Gb/s range.

Back in the day, I’d also cut and crimp connectors on my own cables. It was somewhat expensive to actually buy a network cable and since I was doing computer geek stuff anyway, I had the tools and connectors and even have a spool of cable.

With the servers I have, I recently tried cutting and crimping and I’m just not that patient any more and since cables are fairly inexpensive nowadays, I simply spent $50 or so bucks for 30 Cat5E cables.

Network cables typically have 4 pairs of individual wires (8 wires). Cat5 specifications call for just 2 pair to be properly configured which is the specification for 100 Mb/s. Most of the time all 4 pairs are set up properly so you can get 1 Gb/s but it’s a crap-shoot.

I wasn’t thinking about it personally and labeled and plugged in the necessary cables into my servers. Some were 100Mb/s and some were 1Gb/s. It’s a “homelab” so it wasn’t a big deal and again, I wasn’t thinking too hard about it.

However. With me adding new servers, I’ve had to copy a bunch of files from server to server and it’s taking a bloody long time in some cases. After some poking around on the internet to get the right information, I found that Cat6 specifically is configured to have all 4 pairs properly set up to support up to 10 Gb/s.

And Cat6 cables are just as inexpensive as Cat5E cables. Yep, ordered sufficient Cat6 cables to replace my existing Cat5E cables, which will likely join the rest of the orphan cables sitting in crates in the garage until I think to recycle them.

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