Discussion about SFP, SFP+, QSFP, QSFP+, XFP and CFP Modules/Connectors

Today I am going to talk about the hardware generally used in many of the devices for the fiber/copper connectivity with the devices in the network.

I will talk about the various kinds of modules which includes the following types

  • SFP
  • SFP+
  • XFP
  • CFP
Fig 1.1- Sample QSFP+ to SFP+ Connectivity

Lets start with the SFP module discussion, then we will go with the SFP+, QSFP, QSFP+, XFP and then CFP modules. I will talk about the usage, Wavelength, data rate speed and so many factors which describe these modules in details. I hope with this article you will easily understand the various types of modules uses in industries now a days with the capacity and the data rate speed of these different modules.

SFP: SFP stands for small form factor pluggable, With the help of SFP you can extend the switching capability by connecting the fiber/copper cable between two devices. SFP is the way of technology to connect the devices. You can use as a Single fiber, Dual Fiber, DWDM, WDM. It can support maximum of 150 Km. SFP is based on IEEE802.3 and SFF-8472. SFP transceivers are designed to support SONET, gigabit Ethernet, Fibre Channel, and other communications standards. Due to its smaller size, SFP obsolesces the formerly ubiquitous gigabit interface converter (GBIC); the SFP is sometimes referred to as a Mini-GBIC although no device with this name has ever been defined in the MSAs.

The Data rate capacity of SFP is 155M/622M/1.25G/2.5G/3G/4.25G

Fig 1.2- SFP Bi-Directional Gigabit Fiber Module

SFP+ : SFP+ stands for small form factor pluggable plus, with the help of SFP+ you can extend the switching capacity with the higher bandwidth than that of SFP. You can use SFP+ as a Single fiber, Dual Fiber, DWDM, WDM and CWDM as well. It can support upto the distance of 60-80 Kms. Different SFP+ uses different wavelengths and these wavelength range is 850nm/1310nm/1550nm; 1310nm/1490nm/1550nm; 1270nm-1610nm; ITU17~ITU61. SFP+ supports 8 Gbit/s Fibre Channel, 10 Gigabit Ethernet and Optical Transport Network standard OTU2. It is a popular industry format supported by many network component vendors. Although the SFP+ standard does not include mention of 16G Fibre Channel it can be used at this speed.

The Data rate capacity of SFP+ is 6G/8.5G/10G

Fig 1.3- SFP and SFP+ 

QSFP and QSFP+: QSFP stands for Quad Small Form-factor Pluggable, is a compact, hot-pluggable transceiver used for data communications applications.Quad-SFP (QSFP) ports where a single MTP connector supports up to four channels or ports. Thus, QSFP allows for simplified cable management and, at the same time, supports high density SAN solutions. The QSFP transceivers differ from standard SFP+ or mSFP transceivers. Cables with MTP/MPO connectors are required to use the QSFP transceivers. The cables can be identified by the special connector at the QSFP end and the cables are of different diameter (2.5×6.4 mm)than the standard LC-LC cables.

On the other hand, QSFP+ stands for Quad Small Form-factor pluggable plus. The difference is only the data rate between the QSFP and QSFP+ 

QSFP has four-channel SFP interfaces which can transfer rates upto 4x1Gbps 
QSFP+ has four-channel SFP+ interfaces which can transfer rates up to 4x10Gbps.

Fig 1.4- QSFP+ Modules

Well there are other terms as well in the industry and these terms as QSFP14 and QSFP28. QSFP14 is a 4x14 Gbps QSFP+ module which is used to carry FDR Infiband or 16 G Fiber Channel.

Similarly, QSFP28 is a 4x28 Gbps QSFP+ module to carry 100 Gbps ethernet, EDR infiband or a 32 G fiber channel.

XFP: XFP has appeared before the SFP+. It is also a standardized form factor for serial 10 Gb/s fiber optic transceivers. It is protocol-independent and fully compliant to the following standards: 10G Ethernet, 10G Fibre Channel, SONET OC-192, SDH STM-64 and OTN G.709, supporting bit rate from 9.95G through 11.3G. XFP transceivers are used in datacom and telecom optical links and offer a smaller footprint and lower power consumption than other 10 Gb/s transponders. The electrical interface to the host board is a standardized serial 10 Gb/s interface called XFI.

Fig 1.5 - SFP, SFP+ and XFP modules connector type
XFP can operate over a single wavelength or use dense wavelength-division multiplexing techniques. They include digital diagnostics that provide management that were added to the SFF-8472 standard.XFP modules use an LC fiber connector type to achieve higher density.

CFP: CFP, namely C form-factor pluggable, is a multi-source agreement to produce a common form-factor for the transmission of high-speed digital signals. The c stands for the Latin letter C used to express the number 100 (centum), since the standard was primarily developed for 100 Gigabit Ethernet systems. It can support a wide range of 40 and 100 Gb/s applications such as 40G and 100G Ethernet, OC-768/STM-256, OTU3, and OTU4.

Fig 1.6- CFP Modules
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