Category 7 (Cat7) and Category 7a (Cat7a) are the newest cable standards for Ethernet and other interconnect technologies. Cat 7 cable was developed with strict specifications on crosstalk and EMI protection. Category 7 (Cat7) and Category 7a (Cat7a) S/FTP is compliant to ISO 11801 Class FA (Category 7A) requirements and is REACH and RoHS compliant. The Category 7A cable has conductor pairs that are individually wrapped in foil and surrounded by an overall braid.
Category 7/7A S/FTP applications include 10-gigabit Ethernet, PoE+, HDBaseT and more. Category 7 (Cat7) tested to 600MHz, Category 7a (Cat7a) tested to 1,000 MHz, the Category offers exceptional noise immunity. With all pairs individually shielded, multiple applications can be safely run on one cable. Cat 7/7a cable features four individually shielded pairs as well as an overall cable shield to protect the signals from crosstalk and EMI. Cat7/7a cable provides a copper solution for 10-Gigabit Ethernet at 100 meters.
Cat7 cable is commonly terminated using a GG45 connector, which is a connector that it backwards compatible with the 8p8c RJ45 connectors used on Cat6 or Cat5e cable. The first is the version developed by Nexans (IEC 60603-7-71, also available from other manufacturers) and is known as the GG45.The GG45 connector has four additional conductors that provide support for frequencies of up to 600MHz, and up to 1000MHz using Cat7a. The higher frequencies allow Cat 7 cable to support 10-Gigabit Ethernet.
GG45 connector and RJ45 connector
Cat7 cable may also be terminated using TERA connectors, which was developed by Siemon™. The TERA connector has a unique footprint and is not compatible with a standard 8p8c (RJ45) connector. The TERA connector is also capable of supporting frequencies of up to 600MHz, up to 1000MHz using Cat7a cable. The ability to support the higher frequencies allows Cat7 and Cat7a cable to carry more data. This allows Cat7 and Cat7a cable to support Ethernet applications up to 10-Gigabit Ethernet.
TERA connector and RJ45 connector
Application for a data center:
Cat7 and Cat7a cabling will be used for backbone connections between servers within a data center. This provides a high-speed interconnect used for data transfer within the network.
This provides an alternative to using fiber optic cabling within the data center. Cat7 and Cat7a cabling will provide similar performance to some fiber solutions. The cost of equipment that supports copper cabling is typically less than equipment that supports fiber cabling. Another advantage is that the copper cabling is not as fragile as fiber cabling.
Practical performance difference with Cat5e/6:
Cat7 and Cat7a cable are designed to support much higher frequency signals than Cat5e and Cat6. This allows Cat7 and Ca7a cabling to carry a larger amount of information. Cat7 and Cat7a cable are also able to better protect the signals traveling over the cable. The shielding as well as the tighter twists of the pairs in Cat7 and Cat7a cable lessens the effects of crosstalk and EMI.
Category Cable Comparison
Currently, Cat7 is not widely adopted. Cat5e
solutions sufficiently support the bandwidth requirements of today’s data centers, networks, and end users. Using Cat7 for a connection to a desktop would be unnecessary because the bandwidth would not be utilized. It may also be an unnecessary expense for many data center applications for the same reason. However, as technology advances and requirements increase, Cat7 cable will become more relevant in the data center and desktop connections.