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2023 Best SFP Transceiver Buying Guide

Author Aiyden

Date 03/25/2022

Are you searching for SFP transceivers online and feeling lost in making decisions? Following this SFP buying guide, then your options will slowly narrow down.

The SFP, also known as small form-factor pluggable or mini GBIC, is a transceiver optic that is compact and hot-swappable. It can be plugged into networking equipment and connected to network cables. As the range of applications diversifies, various types of SFP transceiver modules are available. Choosing the most appropriate SFP module for your requirements can benefit network engineers. However, if you are responsible for enterprise procurement, selecting and purchasing SFP transceivers can be confusing. This article outlines the essential factors to consider when selecting SFP optics.

 

10 Factors to Choose SFP Transceivers

 

What situations are SFP modules commonly employed in? Prior to making a determination, it is important to verify the necessary application scenarios with your company and then carefully assess the following factors in accordance with your requirements.

 

Network Technology

 

SFP transceivers come in various models tailored to different network technologies. Each type of SFP module is designed for specific networking standards and can be categorized as Ethernet SFP, FC SFP, SDH SFP/SONET SFP, SDI SFP, or PON SFP. FC SFPs provide high-speed data transfer rates specifically designed for Storage Area Network (SAN) applications.

 

The different types of FC SFPs can support different bandwidths, making it easier to choose the right module for the specific needs of a particular storage network.

 

SONET/SDH SFPs are widely used in telecommunications systems due to their ability to provide high-speed data transfer over long distances. They can support different transmission rates and reach distances, making them flexible and ideal for various network topologies. SONET/SDH SFPs cover short-reach OC-3/STM-1 to OC-48/STM-16 SR transceivers, intermediate-reach IR1 transceivers, and long-reach LR1/LR2 transceivers.

 

SDI SFPs offer high-quality video transmission over standard copper or fiber-optic cabling. They are ideal for broadcasting, video production, and other video-related applications that require real-time video monitoring and signal testing.

 

PON SFPs are specifically designed for FTTH (Fiber to the Home) applications. They provide high-speed data transfer rates over long distances and are ideal for delivering high-quality video, voice, and data services to homes and businesses. Pick APON SFP vs BPON SFP vs EPON SFP vs GPON SFP for different PON standards. Then choose OLT SFP vs ONU SFP according to the networking components inserted.

 

Ethernet SFP Modules are widely used in enterprise networks to provide high-speed data transfer rates between switches, routers, and other networking equipment. They are available in a range of data transfer rates, reach distances, and connector types, making them flexible and easy to deploy.

 

Overall, the choice of an SFP module depends on the specific needs of the network and the type of application. Different SFP modules have different advantages, so it's important to carefully consider the needs of the network before choosing a specific module.

 

Data Rate

Your SFP transceiver with fiber or copper wires is for connecting two SFP ports of networking devices such as Ethernet switches. Hence figuring out the SFP port data rate is the key to SFP transceiver data rate selection. The typical port speed of Ethernet switches is 155Mbps, 1Gbps, 10Gbps, 25Gbps, 40Gbps, 100Gbps, and 400Gbps.    As a simple example, a pair of S7300-24X2C switches are placed in a server room, needing a 10G connection for data communication. Then you need 10G SFP+ modules because the two switches own 24 10G SFP+ ports.

 

Form Factor

The small form-factor pluggable transceivers have derivated into multiple form factors. Hot SFP types are 1G SFP, 10G SFP+, 25G SFP28, 40G QSFP+, 100G QSFP28. SFP transceivers with different form factors support corresponding speeds. Check the equipment port types, and choose a matching form factor.

 

Transmission Distance

Estimate how far between the two ends. If the transmission medium is optical fibers, choose multimode SFP transceivers for short-reach applications and single-mode SFPs for long-distance transmission. For the former, MMF SFPs are frequently used within a kilometer, such as 30m, 100m, 300m, 400m, and 550m. 2km is also available in the market. For the latter, a regular SMF SFP can reach up to 10km. Besides, you can choose from 20km, 40km, 80km, 100km, and 120km for ultra-long-haul networks.

 

For instance, QSFPTEK offers multimode 100GBASE-SR4 QSFP28 that can reach 100m over OM4 fibers and single-mode 100G QSFP28 with a selection of 500m-DR4,  2km-IR4/CWDM4/FR4, 10km-LR4/4WDM-10/PSM4, 40km-ER4, and 80km-ZR4. If the transmission medium is copper cable, then it can't support long-distance transmission. The maximum transmission distance of electrical port modules on the market can generally reach 100m.

 

Connector Type

LC, SC, and MTP/MPO are three fiber SFP transceiver connector types.

 

 

LC and MTP/MPO connectors are available for 40G QSFP+ and 100G QSFP28. LC and SC connectors are found on 1G SFPs.

 

 

Module Type Connector Type
SFP RJ45, LC, SC
SFP+ RJ45, LC
QSFP+ LC, MTP/MPO
QSFP28 LC, MTP/MPO

 

Therefore, check your current situation and consider the following questions:

1. For businesses that need to reutilize existing cabling, what is the type of fiber optic cable connector? Choose a corresponding SFP connector type to match the existing fiber cables.

2. For companies that plan to build up a new system or upgrade their wiring infrastructure, besides SFP transceivers, you also need to buy matching fiber patch cables. Think about how to buy for improving the whole lifespan cost-effectiveness. 

 

Taking 10km 100G QSFP28 as an example, the table below shows the cost of buying a transceiver and matching fibers.

 

 

Connector Type Modules 1M Fiber Patch Cables
LC

QSFP-100G-LR4-S

US$ 239

LC-LC Duplex OS2 SMF

US$ 3.10

MTP/MPO

QSFP-100G-PSM4-S

US$ 109

MTP OS2 SMF trunk cable

US$ 36.55

 

As you can see, though QSFP28 modules with MTP/MPO are cheaper, however, deploying fibers in large quantities later will cost you a lot of money. Pay attention to making a future-proof solution.

Working Temperature

Three levels of SFP transceivers are commercial temperature range (COM: 0~70°C), extended temperature range (EXT: -20°C~85°C), and industrial temperature range (IND: -40°C~85°C). In general, transceiver vendors will supply commercial SFPs and industrial SFPs for the same model. IND modules have a higher level of extreme temperature resistance.

Compatibility

SFP compatibility is due to the inserting equipment brand and models. Be mind buying an SFP that is fully compatible with equipment. Check the SFP compatibility matrix on the brand's official site or consult your vendors to ensure device compatibility.

 

QSFPTEK provides multiple brands of compatible transceiver modules, some of the main-stream brands are:

 

Mult-Brand Compatible
Cisco Juniper Arista Brocade HPE Generic
Dell Mellanox HW H3C Extreme IBM
Intel Netgear Ciena Ubiquiti Avago Alcatel-Lucent

 

Each module is 100% tested on brand switches to ensure full compatibility

Vendors

Make decisions from OEM or third-party vendors. If choosing third-party vendors, pick a reliable one.

OEM optics have the best guarantee of compatibility and quality. However, For most businesses, its disadvantages far outweigh its advantages. Prohibitive price and incompatibility across brands are the two most annoying points. 

 

Third-party SFP transceivers are affordable and MSA compliant (allowing mix-use devices from multiple vendors). What confuses you is — too many choices that it is difficult to distinguish whether they are reliable or not. However, as long as you make a good choice, you save a lot and have no worries about its compatibility and quality. As the decoding technology on the market is quite mature.

SFP DDM/DOM

The SFP DOM (digital diagnostics monitoring) is a function to allow the monitoring of real-time operating parameters. Pick DDM SFP to stay informed about module working performance and help quickly locate the link fault.

Price & Budget

In addition to studying SFP transceiver price comparisons from different manufacturers, think one more question — are there more cost-effective alternatives? For example, an end-to-end connection is required between two switches on the rack, and the distance is very short. Then maybe you can consider using a high-speed cable that does not need extra fiber patch cables.

 

Sometimes you may also need to consider other parameters of the module, such as whether the transmission mode is simplex or duplex; whether the service policy warranty covers the five-year life cycle of the module.

Conclusion

Figure out what your networking technology is and which equipment and cables are in your system, go further to transmission speed for a matching form factor, and the transmission distance to pick a single-mode or multimode SFP with the required reach. Take cabling infrastructure into consideration for a proper SFP connector type. Give priority to industrial SFPs if you need to use the module in harsh environments for extreme temperatures. Choose a reliable vendor that ensures device compatibility. Do not forget the SFP DOM function.

 

Follow the top 10 factors for choosing an SFP transceiver module, your options will slowly narrow down. Now that you are almost there. Finally, double-check your SFP transceiver use scenarios.

 

If you still have trouble buying SFP modules, we'll be glad to help. Please ask our sales expert in the chat now box or email us via sales@qsfptek.com.

 

Related Article:

Why Choose Third-Party Transceiver Modules?

Industrial Grade Optic Transceiver VS Commercial Grade Optical Transceiver

SFP Module Prices Comparison by Top 5 SFP Manufacturers 2022

 

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