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The American Wire Gauge and its Effects on Direct Attach Cable Connections

When designing and maintaining an Optical Fiber Network it’s crucial to know the various features and properties of the optical network equipment. When selecting the appropriate equipment for a particular project it’s important to consider all possible options. For example selecting the correct cables for the optical networks is not the same process for copper cables and optical cables. This is due to their different manufacturing processes, their functioning and characteristics.

The American Wire Gauge or AWG represents an extremely important parameter when choosing the correct Direct Attach Cables. The American Wire Gauge is a standard method of denoting round and solid, electrically conducting capacity of a cable. Its use started in 1857 and it was used primarily in the United States and later as the years went by the rest of the world started using it. To make things clearer, the higher the AWG number, the smaller the cable is in diameter and the thinner the wire inside of it. This is very important to know, keeping in mind that thicker wires have a higher capability of transmitting larger amount of current over greater distances accompanied with minimal loss. Generally the smallest AWG size is 40 AWG and the largest is 0000 or (4/0) AWG. The various AWG sizes and each of its properties is shown in the around the world accepted AWG size and properties table:

AWG gauge

Conductor
Diameter

Inches

Conductor
Diameter

mm

Ohms per 304.8

meter (1000ft.)

Ohms per km

Maximum amps for
chassis wiring

Maximum amps for
power transmission

Maximum frequency

Breaking force Soft
Annealed
Cu 37000 PSI

0000

0.46

11.684

0.049

0.16072

380

302

125 Hz

2776 kg

000

0.4096

10.40384

0.0618

0.202704

328

239

160 Hz

2205 kg

00

0.3648

9.26592

0.0779

0.255512

283

190

200 Hz

1751 kg

0

0.3249

8.25246

0.0983

0.322424

245

150

250 Hz

1388 kg

1

0.2893

7.34822

0.1239

0.406392

211

119

325 Hz

1102 kg

2

0.2576

6.54304

0.1563

0.512664

181

94

410 Hz

875 kg

3

0.2294

5.82676

0.197

0.64616

158

75

500 Hz

694 kg

4

0.2043

5.18922

0.2485

0.81508

135

60

650 Hz

549 kg

5

0.1819

4.62026

0.3133

1.027624

118

47

810 Hz

435 kg

6

0.162

4.1148

0.3951

1.295928

101

37

1100 Hz

345 kg

7

0.1443

3.66522

0.4982

1.634096

89

30

1300 Hz

274 kg

8

0.1285

3.2639

0.6282

2.060496

73

24

1650 Hz

217 kg

9

0.1144

2.90576

0.7921

2.598088

64

19

2050 Hz

172 kg

10

0.1019

2.58826

0.9989

3.276392

55

15

2600 Hz

142 kg

11

0.0907

2.30378

1.26

4.1328

47

12

3200 Hz

113 kg

12

0.0808

2.05232

1.588

5.20864

41

9.3

4150 Hz

89 kg

13

0.072

1.8288

2.003

6.56984

35

7.4

5300 Hz

68 kg

14

0.0641

1.62814

2.525

8.282

32

5.9

6700 Hz

54 kg

15

0.0571

1.45034

3.184

10.44352

28

4.7

8250 Hz

42 kg

16

0.0508

1.29032

4.016

13.17248

22

3.7

11 k Hz

34 kg

17

0.0453

1.15062

5.064

16.60992

19

2.9

13 k Hz

27 kg

18

0.0403

1.02362

6.385

20.9428

16

2.3

17 kHz

21 kg

19

0.0359

0.91186

8.051

26.40728

14

1.8

21 kHz

16 kg

20

0.032

0.8128

10.15

33.292

11

1.5

27 kHz

13 kg

21

0.0285

0.7239

12.8

41.984

9

1.2

33 kHz

10.5 kg

22

0.0253

0.64516

16.14

52.9392

7

0.92

42 kHz

8 kg

23

0.0226

0.57404

20.36

66.7808

4.7

0.729

53 kHz

6.5 kg

24

0.0201

0.51054

25.67

84.1976

3.5

0.577

68 kHz

5 kg

25

0.0179

0.45466

32.37

106.1736

2.7

0.457

85 kHz

4 kg

26

0.0159

0.40386

40.81

133.8568

2.2

0.361

107 kHz

3.2 kg

27

0.0142

0.36068

51.47

168.8216

1.7

0.288

130 kHz

2.5 kg

28

0.0126

0.32004

64.9

212.872

1.4

0.226

170 kHz

2 kg

29

0.0113

0.28702

81.83

268.4024

1.2

0.182

210 kHz

1.5 kg

30

0.01

0.254

103.2

338.496

0.86

0.142

270 kHz

1.2 kg

31

0.0089

0.22606

130.1

426.728

0.7

0.113

340 kHz

1 kg

32

0.008

0.2032

164.1

538.248

0.53

0.091

430 kHz

800 gr

Metric 2.0

0.00787

0.200

169.39

555.61

0.51

0.088

440 kHz

33

0.0071

0.18034

206.9

678.632

0.43

0.072

540 kHz

589 gr

Metric 1.8

0.00709

0.180

207.5

680.55

0.43

0.072

540 kHz

34

0.0063

0.16002

260.9

855.752

0.33

0.056

690 kHz

498 gr

Metric 1.6

0.0063

0.16002

260.9

855.752

0.33

0.056

690 kHz

35

0.0056

0.14224

329

1079.12

0.27

0.044

870 kHz

417 gr

Metric 1.4

.00551

.140

339

1114

0.26

0.043

900 kHz

36

0.005

0.127

414.8

1360

0.21

0.035

1100 kHz

326 gr

Metric 1.25

.00492

0.125

428.2

1404

0.20

0.034

1150 kHz

37

0.0045

0.1143

523.1

1715

0.17

0.0289

1350 kHz

258 gr

Metric 1.12

.00441

0.112

533.8

1750

0.163

0.0277

1400 kHz

38

0.004

0.1016

659.6

2163

0.13

0.0228

1750 kHz

204 gr

Metric 1

.00394

0.1000

670.2

2198

0.126

0.0225

1750 kHz

39

0.0035

0.0889

831.8

2728

0.11

0.0175

2250 kHz

163 gr

40

0.0031

0.07874

1049

3440

0.09

0.0137

2900 kHz

131 gr

Even though there are so many different AWG sizes within the AWG standard, not all of them are used in practical applications. From a computer networking perspective the mostly used AWG sizes are:

  • 18 and 20 AWG - coaxial cables used mainly for CATV
  • 24 AWG - Category 5, 5e and 6 cables used mainly for Local Area Networks and Ethernet
  • 24, 26, 28 and 30 AWG - Direct Attach Cables used mainly in Datacenter environment and interconnections

Direct Attach Cables used mainly in Datacenters are a form of high speed cables with transceivers incorporated on each end of the cable. These cables are widely popular around the world mainly because of the price difference compared with regular transceivers. There are two types of Direct Attach Cables existing: active and passive. Even though some may argue, there is no particular weight and appearance between the two types. The key difference between active and passive DACs is the integration of a driving chip in the active Direct Attach Cables. Other difference is their AWG rating. For example active Direct Attach Cables generally have lower AWG rating than passive Direct Attach Cables meaning that, for example, DAC 30 is thinner than DAC 24 and therefore more convenient for deployment at greater distances. Lower AWG rating also guarantees bigger electromagnetic shielding. When choosing DACs the longer the distance the lower the AWG value should be.

Direct Attach Cables are cheaper than the regular optics because of their transceiver connectors attached at each end. These transceivers are used only for transmitting the optical light and they don’t have the regular optical components inside of them. Thus they provide a budget solution for short range connections.