Cable assemblies are collections of wires or cables banded into a single unit with connectors on at least one end. Technologies available for cable assemblies include Fibre Channel, IEEE 1394, GPIB, LAN/Ethernet, parallel, patch, serial, and USB. Fibre Channel is a scalable, high-speed, serial data transfer interface standard (ANSI X3TII). The GPIB standard was designed to connect several instruments to computers for data acquisition and control. LAN or Ethernet is a network standard first developed by Xerox, refined by DEC and Intel, and codified as the IEEE 802.3 standard. Parallel cables work by transmitting a number of bits of data simultaneously over separate lines (for example, eight bits over eight lines) usually unidirectional. A patch cable is a flexible cable terminated at both ends with a plug. Used for interconnecting circuits on a patch panel. SCSI (pronounced "scuzzy") is an intelligent bus for transmitting data and commands between a variety of devices. Serial cables work by transmitting data one bit at a time. Universal Serial Bus (USB) is a serial 4-wire bus architecture for peripheral I/O developed by Compaq, Intel, and Microsoft.
Common applications for cable assemblies include audio, camera or imaging, computer, military, medical, networking, telecommunications, and video. Cable type choices for cable assemblies include Cat 3, Cat 5, Cat 6, coaxial, fiber optic, RG6/11, triaxial, type 1, and twisted pair. The necessary cable length is important to consider when searching for cable assemblies. Choices for gender of the connectors of the cable are necessary to consider when searching for cable assemblies. Gender choices are male-male, male-female, and female-female. Many connector choices are available for assemblies of cable assemblies. Some of the more common connectors include Centronics connectors, BNC connectors, DB connectors, internal pin SCSI connectors, micro Centronics connectors, DIN connectors, RJ connectors, and USB connectors. Common features found on cable assemblies include extreme environment, cleanroom application, shielded construction, and Telco or hydra assembly. Extreme environment cables satisfy the requirement that the cable be used hostile or extreme environments, including high or low temperature, humidity, shock, vibration, etc. Shields are conducting envelopes composed of metal strands, which enclose a wire, group of wires, or cable. They are constructed so that every joint on the surface of the underlying insulation is a ground potential or at some predetermined potential with respect to ground. By surrounding a cable with grounded metal, there is a decreased chance that electrical signals carried by that cable will interfere with, or be interfered with, by external electrical signals. Telco cable assemblies are used for data and voice applications with punch down blocks, patch panels and distribution boxes. They can also be used as extension cables. An important environmental parameter to consider when searching for cable assemblies is the operating temperature.