ATEN Settles the Debate Over Cabling in the Data Center

Cascade or daisy chain?

Irvine, CA (September 21, 2004) -- ATEN Technology, Inc., maker of KVM (keyboard/video/mouse) and remote connectivity solutions to manage servers and other network devices, today addressed the debate over how to best optimize the cabling of KVM solutions in the data center -- cascading or daisy chaining.

"Data centers are continuing to expand and some bursting to capacity as new devices are added, security measurements taken and infrastructures swelling with new technologies," said Joseph Zhang, Product Manager at ATEN. "To better control these devices, the KVM switch has evolved into a truly empowering tool for network administrators."

According to Zhang, the real challenge is shrinking data center real estate and how to optimize cabling of the KVM solutions to address these space constraints. "There are two schools of thought on this cabling issue -- cascading and daisy chaining -- each with its own merits, but one being more efficient than the other."

Cascading KVM switches is a method of adding capacity to a KVM installation. It involves using a CPU port of the Parent KVM switch and connecting to a Child KVM switch. With numerous Child switches linked down from the Parent, the effect is reminiscent of the way water cascades down over a waterfall. Cascading can significantly increase the number of computers on an installation. However, the Parent switch loses one CPU port for each cascaded KVM switch that is added.

Daisy Chaining is a method of expanding the capacity of a KVM switch installation. The first daisy chained KVM switch is called the Master unit and each subsequent unit on the chain is referred to as slave. In a typical daisy chained installation, KVM switches are strung together similar to how one makes chains of daisy flowers by tying the head of one daisy to another.

"However, daisy chaining has several advantages over cascading," says Zhang. "Cascading loses one port every time you perform it. Plus, cascading gives network administrators cabling headaches with a messy cabling configuration since each child switch is connected to one port on the parent switch -- the more you cascade, the worse cable management."

The following are key reasons for the superiority of daisy chaining over cascading:

  1. No Port Loss: Cascading loses one port every time you perform it. For instance, if a network administrator cascades an 8-port KVM to another 8-port KVM, there are only 15 ports total (8+8-1) -- daisy chaining offers 16 ports total under this configuration.

  2. Neater Cable Management: Typically, daisy-chain ports are located on the same side of the KVM switch and are connected by dedicated daisy chain cables. This allows cleaner cable management, whereas cascading causes cable clutter.

  3. Simple Troubleshooting: If there are issues with a malfunctioning device in the data center, the messiness of cascaded cables can cause a troubleshooting nightmare to diagnose the problem.

"For enterprise-level data centers with high-port installations, daisy chaining is the model of efficiency," concludes Zhang. "If network administrators still want to use cascading, then it should be reserved primarily for only low port connections such as two or four ports."

ATEN offers a full line of affordable, channel-ready KVM solutions and remote access devices that are backed by one of the industry's only three-year warranty programs. The company recently announced its Matrix KVM solutions that links 32 users and controls up to 4096 computers, as well as the new CN6000 KVM on the Net solution that delivers 24/7 "instant access" over the Internet to servers and other network devices.

About ATEN Technology, Inc.

ATEN Technology, Inc. is an innovator of high-quality KVM (keyboard/video/mouse) and remote connectivity solutions to manage servers and other network devices. The company also offers a broad range of data communication products that can expand peripheral sharing ability, extend the distance between computers and peripherals, or convert one type of data signal into another. For more information, contact ATEN at (888) 999-ATEN or 949-428-1111, or via the Web at