why haven't ethernet connectors changed?

George Herbert george.herbert at gmail.com
Thu Dec 20 21:13:15 UTC 2012

Having (once) tapped thicknet, done a lot of thinnet termination and
cable cut debugging, and then used hubs and switches in 10BT and

Having had one main standard (RJ45) has been a huge benefit to
advancing the state of networking to where we are today.  But it is
probably worth questioning if that's true going forwards.

Laptops and Rasberry PI devices and some other device types define a
"light" category, where positive retention and self-cable-termination
are probably not net positives.  Device side space and interconnect
insert/remove cycles (along with sufficiently stiff connection
retention, but not necessarily mechanical) would be prime drivers for
this class.

For some users, even more positive than RJ45 is warranted.  I at times
work in and have a number of friends working in various aerospace and
rocketry areas, and RJ45's have been widely known to come loose under
acceleration.  Those people use more positive connctors (M12, other
IP67, etc) for the most part.  Those other standards exist already,
though it's not unified down to one right answer yet.

For datacenters, servers, most desktops, etc., I don't know that
there's a good case for change.  RJ45 is not broke for those users.

The comment upthread a bit about a 2-wire / 1 pair spec, interoperable
with 4-wire / 2 pair switches, with a RJ45 at one end and a device
connector at the other, makes sense to me.  Most of the "light
connector" users would not need the full bandwidth.  Even if this
turns out to not be easy enough to do, a 4-wire mini connector of some
sort is not that big of a deal.  Whether that's a micro-insert, a
magnetic-attached, what details...  I see good arguments for magnetic
attach, but it's harder to make them small.  I see good arguments for
small, but those will be mechanical and less positively retained.

I don't know that the discussion is a NANOG-centric one from here on
in, but it's good to have raised the idea.

-george william herbert
george.herbert at gmail.com

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