There’s a lot of switches and routers and cards that end up including e.g. a number of gigabit ports and a couple of 10Gbps SFP+
You should seriously consider adopting fiber between your buildings, between your dc-in-a-shed and your home, and within your dc-in-a-shed.
Fiber market traditionally had more money / customer than ethernet so it’s natural there’s a million standards out there and acronyms, something for everyone’s money. This is the reason it’s confusing.
Main difference is, you don’t make your own cables… You measure, order to length+a bit extra, you install and keep it there.
Here’s everything you need to know about fiber to be able to use it and get cheap cheap 10Gbps.
TODO(…): come back and format this
you have several single mode types of fiber and several more multimode types of fiber. Single mode fiber is more precise, requires more manufacturing capability and provides for lower loss over distance. Multimode is single modes dirty fat cheap drunk cousin always there for Christmas, except it’s not much cheaper these days. (Perpetual economic crisis and all) When people say how you can keep reusing the same fiber with 1Gbps today 10Gbps tomorrow, and 100Gbps or terabit in the future, they typically mean SMF/single mode. There’s multiple kinds of MMF, the standard gets updated every 5 years or so to support new speeds. That’s what you want to use SMF pretty much always. SMF requires shorter wavelength 1200-1600nm, most gear uses 1310nm or 1490nm) ,whereas MMF operates at about 800 or so… and can even work with fancy LEDs at short distances might be slightly cheaper than cheap lasers up to 40Gbps. MMF is only useful at short distances, and only if you have access to second hand high end surplus hardware, because 40/100Gbps modules (aka. optics) for short up to 150m fiber are dirt cheap compared to SMF. Let’s not mention MMF going forward, there’s pcie limitations you’ll run into at home when you try running 40Gbps or faster. In a couple of years it’ll all be cheap anyway.
There’s also some kinds of fiber that allows you to tie your shoelaces with it and after that it’ll still be able to do 100Gbps (or 3.2Tbps if you have a 320way DWDM at each end). Most fiber is not that durable, people generally use G.652 - it’s the cat6 of fiber, the thing everyone gets (and yes it can do terabits), and it can be fairly rugged. Actual cable usually has kevlar and aramid wrapping, and in some cases thin but corrugated steel (like the one I linked to before) and is then encased in plastic. In general if you go gardening and stick a shovel in it by accident, it’ll probably be fine.
You generally want a pair of fibers or a single “duplex” cable. There’s cables with more strands but that’s not for home use, you can’t really separate strands in the field without having proper equipment and practice.
There’s bidirectional equipment using one frequency on one direction, and another frequency for return, duplex fiber is cheaper typically.
You don’t self terminate fiber either at home, that also requires equipment (300-1000) and practice.
Fusing broken fiber properly, requires something like and alignment welder machine, cheap chinese ones are like $2000, at that price they’re causing quite a stir in the market cause that’s cheap for these folks… Not something you want to do at home/office/yourself.
(as in the grind at the end of the cable, not the people)
mumble-mumble… Something about light bouncing of the end of the cable, I don’t get this myself, apparently catv industry uses APC where the end of the cable is polished at an angle, computer people use UPC where the end is 90° flat perpendicular to cable axis. UPC is what you need.
There’s many standards, in general some are bigger, some are smaller important thing is they attach to modules that require a compatible kind, a cable doesn’t have to have the same connector on both ends, but usually it just does.
LC are the smallest afaik, that’s the kind of plug you find on most computer gear.
GPON that uses different wavelengths for send and receive uses an SC connector that’s slightly bigger and more rugged, all others are less popular.
Modules and speeds:
This is what connects that LC connector/SC connector/RJ45 connector to a switch, it a a small box with some electronics and a laser of a certain wavelength that plugs into your switch or computer. For home use you probably care about SFP for 1Gbps and SFP+ for 10Gbps. SFP+ slots in switches will usually work with SFP modules too. Although SFP+ modules typically won’t negotiate 1Gbps with an SFP module at the other end.
Q variants use four “lanes”, QSFP+ gets you 40Gbps, QSFP28 gets you ~100Gbps (apparently 28Gbps goes after 10Gbps … no idea what they’re thinking there). … 40Gbps is like $300 (or can be had for $50 for MMF up to 150m). The kicker is that while 10Gbps is something you could saturate today with a remote SSD, utilizing 40Gbps is much harder, your server software would need to be able to process IP data at 40Gbps. Anyone can write code to do that for a specific application, but most people don’t and that code is not there today, it’s something nobody had to think about before. It’s also 4 lanes worth of PCIe 3.0 bandwidth, you’d need to canibalize the GPU bandwidth on a typical Intel gaming PC or you end up saturating the DMI link making everything stutter. (Ryzen am4 is a bit better there, phew not all hope is lost).
There’s no drivers, there’s a little bit of cross vendor compatibility where e.g. Cisco switches refuse to work with non Cisco “coded” modules because of support licensing crap, but otherwise they just have a few pins and there’s a few bytes worth of memory on them where switch can read signal strength and temperature and that’s it. It’s more plug and play than plug-and-play ever was on computers.
I’ll just list some examples:
Ubiquiti makes some interesting switches too, they support 802.1x and are better at POE, but you can put each port in its own vlan instead of 802.1x and you can get just a POE capable switch for cameras around the house and around the property.
- Conduits, why? You can direct bury a cable, but having a long flexible pipe where you can pull cable with a plastic bag and a vacuum cleaner is nice, don’t use PVC, use flexible “poly” which is not really polyurethane in most cases but all sorts of weird nice and durable polymer molecules, resistant to UV and degradation
- twinax/dac/aoc… If you have SFP on two machines on a rack or at a short distance, instead of using fiber optics you can connect sfp-sfp and sfp±sfp+ using a direct-attach-cable, it works to 5m/10m… aoc is just a pair of optical transceivers and cable you can attach. You need to swap the cable when you want to upgrade speed.
- microtrenching? turns out there are these giant chainsaw like things that dig narrow shallow trenches for cables and small diameter plumbing in no time for cables and stuff, see if you can rent/borrow or buy used.
- oadm/mux/demux/cwdm/dwdm? fibers can carry multiple wavelengths, oadm are are various passive filters and prisms that help separate out/inject in a wavelengths. Mux/demux pretty much do the same. CWDM is coarse wave division multiplexing 16-20 waves per fiber dwdm goes up to 80/160/320. CWDM SFP modules that transmit/receive at different wavelength are not that much more expensive. DWDM modules are much more expensive, because they get to be temperature stabilized. This is useful if you want to play fiber ISP with your neighbors who might be a couple of hundred meters or up to 20km away, and have a small 10Gbps network between yourselves.
- GPON? A whole different ballgame where you have many people sitting on one fiber sharing a pair of frequencies and all modules end up picking up downstream and discarding what’s not for them, and get synchronized to talk upstream and not overlap. It’s an ISP last mile thing, not a LAN/WAN tech you want to use yourself… unless to get internet from the ISP.
- media converters? Small unmanaged box, fiber on one side, RJ45 on the other, they’re useful for end equipment only, most of the time you’ll be using a switch with an SFP/SFP+ port instead. At 1Gbps they cost about 20-30… Historically when fiber was more expensive, it used to make sense considering to get some fancy ones these days it’s the 20-30USD ones or get a cheap Ubiquiti 5 port switch or router with SFP for 50-100. For SFP+ you get a switch, for 40Gbps+ … Not yet at home, maybe in the future.