Pitching in at 2mm

Pitching in at 2mmPaul Gregg looks at the increasing demand for 2mm interconnection systems Telecoms and datacoms markets are driving demand for high density connectors. This in turn has led to the growth for additional connector features, specially in the case of 2.0mm interconnect systems. The international standards used by telecommunications equipment manufacturers changed little over a long period of time – some changes were as infrequent as 20 years. But the increasing speed and density of digital traffic has meant that standards now have to be revised more frequently. When the industry underwent one of its periodic revisions in the late 1980s, the decision was due to be taken upon which high density backplane interconnect system to choose – 2.5mm or 2.0mm pitch. The interconnect system designed around the old Imperial DIN 41494 had reached its limitations. Battle lines were soon formed between two groups of manufacturers. The issue was made more complicated by the fact that the industry was also looking for a successor for VMEbus and Multibus interconnection systems. By the early 1990s Siemens had developed a 2.5mm pitch system called Sipac, which conformed to the DIN 41642 standard. Supporters included Schroff, Harting, Alcatel, GPT, Motorola and Nokia. Molex entered the market with a 2.5mm branded product, called Omnigrid. A 2.0mm version called Metral and made by DuPont (now Berg) had its own supporters. Several connector manufacturers played it safe by producing both product lines. As far back as 1992, figures published by market research specialist, Fleck International, suggested that the Metral interconnect product stood a good chance of becoming de facto standard. Berg says that its Metral version was the first 2.0mm interconnect system to meet the Bellcore specification, and that its system has been selected by the IEEE as the Futurebus+ 2mm standard. Global sales for the Metral interconnect product line totalled 2,2027m last year. Growth in sales of the 2mm interconnect systems has led to an increasing demand for variants to meet specific customer needs, such as a high power version with 40A receptacle power contact. The target markets for this connector include telecoms (switching, transmission, base stations), datacoms (hubs, routers, bridges, routers, high end servers and workstations). Berg’s Mini-Power version fits into the existing mini-coax housings, and it is offered in both board-to-board and cable-to-board configurations. By adding Mini-Power system, designers can choose various options for their PCB power supply – 1A standard signal contacts, 3A blade power contacts, 10A mini-power contacts and 40A circular DIN power contacts. The company’s Monoblock connector combines multiple functions into one connector housing. For example, signal, power, guiding, coax, etc., offering the user a cost reduction. The Monoblock connector can be applied to the board in one pass, instead of several passes when individual connector functions are used. In addition, customers are offered a Shorting Clip feature that shorts any adjacent pin pair in the first row (row A) of any Metral header. This enables the system user to reduce costs by using the shorting clip for shunting versus logic or other methods. This shunting feature is commonly used in communications hardware for hot swap and LAN applications.

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