Fiber Distributed Data Interface

Published on Nov 12, 2015


The Fiber Distributed Data Interface (FDDI) standard was produced by the ANSI X3T9.5 standards committee in the mid-1980s. During this period, high-speed engineering workstations were beginning to tax the capabilities of existing local-area networks (LANs) (primarily Ethernet and Token Ring). A new LAN was needed that could easily support these workstations and their new distributed applications.

At the same time, network reliability was becoming an increasingly important issue as system managers began to migrate mission-critical applications from large computers to networks. FDDI was developed to fill these needs.

After completing the FDDI specification, ANSI submitted FDDI to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). ISO has created an international version of FDDI that is completely compatible with the ANSI standard version.Today, although FDDI implementations are not as common as Ethernet or Token Ring, FDDI has gained a substantial following that continues to increase as the cost of FDDI interfaces diminishes. FDDI is frequently used as a backbone technology as well as a means to connect high-speed computers in a local area.

Technology Basics

FDDI specifies a 100-Mbps, token-passing, dual-ring LAN using a fiber-optic transmission medium. It defines the physical layer and media-access portion of the link layer, and so is roughly analogous to IEEE 802.3 and IEEE 802.5 in its relationship to the Open System Interconnection (OSI) reference model.

Although it operates at faster speeds, FDDI is similar in many ways to Token Ring. The two networks share many features, including topology (ring), media-access technique (token passing), reliability features (redundant rings, for example), and others. For more information on Token Ring and related technologies.

One of the most important characteristics of FDDI is its use of optical fiber as a transmission medium. Optical fiber offers several advantages over traditional copper wiring, including security (fiber does not emit electrical signals that can be tapped), reliability (fiber is immune to electrical interference), and speed (optical fiber has much higher throughput potential than copper cable).

FDDI defines use of two types of fiber: single mode (sometimes called monomode) and multimode. Modes can be thought of as bundles of light rays entering the fiber at a particular angle. Single-mode fiber allows only one mode of light to propagate through the fiber, while multimode fiber allows multiple modes of light to propagate through the fiber.

Because multiple modes of light propagating through the fiber may travel different distances (depending on the entry angles), causing them to arrive at the destination at different times (a phenomenon called modal dispersion), single-mode fiber is capable of higher bandwidth and greater cable run distances than multimode fiber. Due to these characteristics, single-mode fiber is often used for interbuilding connectivity, while multimode fiber is often used for intrabuilding connectivity. Multimode fiber uses light-emitting diodes (LEDs) as the light-generating devices, while single-mode fiber generally uses lasers.

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