Should I use compatible SFP or SFP+?


SFP – Small Form-Factor Pluggable Module
SFP, small form-factor pluggable for short, is a compact, hot-pluggable transceiver module used for both telecommunication and data communications applications. SFP transceiver can be regarded as the upgrade version of GBIC module. SFP most often used for Fast Ethernet of Gigabit Ethernet applications. They are efficiently supporting speeds up to 4.25 Gbps.
The SFP transceiver is not standardized by any official standards body, but rather is specified by a multi-source agreement (MSA) among competing manufacturers.
SFP + – Small Form-Factor Pluggable Module
SFP+ is an enhanced version of the SFP that supports data rates up to 16 Gbps. 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. Besides the data rate, the big difference between 8G Fibre Channel and 16G Fibre Channel is the encoding method. 64b/66b encoding used for 16G is a more efficient encoding mechanism than 8b/10b used for 8G, and allows for the data rate to double without doubling the line rate. The result is the 14.025 Gbit/s line rate for 16G Fibre Channel.
Should I use compatible SFP or SFP+ ? YES ! Why not ?
Many manufacturers restrict their devices to accept only original SFP modules of the same brand, as identified by their vendor ID. Due to sometimes significant price differences between original and generic or compatible modules, there is a large market of “compatible” or “third party” modules that are programmed to show the appropriate vendor.  Third-party SFP manufacturers have introduced SFPs with “blank” programmable EEPROMs which may be reprogrammed to match any vendor ID. When it is plugged into a Catalyst’s SFP port the first time, the Catalyst queries this chip for its credentials. If it’s not Cisco, your Cisco Catalyst switches would be configured by default not to work with the 3rd party (non-Cisco) SFPs, so the Catalyst would automatically shut the port down entirely.
Cisco wants their customers buying only Cisco hardware, which is -to say the least- more expensive than anyone else on the market. They make their own optical transceivers, and try very hard to convince buyers that only official Cisco hardware will work. Since SFPs aren’t overseen by a central standards body -unlike WiFi, for example- there’s no one around to tell Cisco not to do it. The primary benefit is the cost savings. The difference in price often exceeds 80 percent or more. Because transceiver costs are a significant part of the total system cost, it is important for designers to minimize these costs.
Warranty period
Of course, the other concern is the warranty. Most manufacturers offer short-term warranties, but consider buying from a vendor that throws longer service and support terms into the deal. A quality third party SFP should be able to provide years of performance, and be able to move across several pieces of hardware as your needs change over the years
Testing & Verification
There are methods to test and verify the 3rd-party transceiver modules, but it’s not always as easy as it seems. We can conduct some of the following tests.
Test for an Acceptable Bit-Error Ratio
Test to Determine Interoperability With a Worst-Case Transmitter
Determine the Minimal Power Level & Jitter Level
Try Performing the Optical Eye-Mask Tests
Verify Compliance With Multiple Samples
Know About Instrumentation Effects
BlueOptics high availability SFP+ Transceivers meet or exceed industrial standards, such as CE and RoHS as well as the regulations of the FCC. Through continuous monitoring before, during and after the production process, according to ISO9001, CBO reaches a steady quality of each BlueOptics SFP+ Transceiver.  Another feature available when purchasing from CBO-TEchnology is the telephone support call. If you run into trouble with your unit, you can get in touch with our support center for help.
If you’re still hesitant about trying compatible optics from a third party manufacturer, the best way to ensure that you’re getting a reliable product at a good deal is to choose us as a vendor you trust, as we have  a proven track record of quality products and great customer service. Ask us to send you samples to test to your specifications to find out whether the units live up to your standards, and get your network running without unnecessarily straining your budget.

What Ethernet Standards can be used with SFP+ ?


The enhanced small form-factor pluggable (SFP+) is an enhanced version of the SFP that supports data rates up to 16 Gbit/s.
The SFP+ specification was first published on May 9, 2006, and version 4.1 published on July 6, 2009. 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.
SFP+ connectivity are the most flexible and scalable Ethernet adapters for today’s demanding data center environments. The escalating deployments of servers with multi-core processors and demanding applications such as high performance computing (HPC), database clusters, and video-on-demand are the types of applications driving the need for 10-gigabit connections.
10 Gbit/s SFP+ modules are exactly the same dimensions as regular SFPs, allowing the equipment manufacturer to re-use existing physical designs for 24 and 48-port switches and modular line cards.
Although the SFP+ standard does not include mention of 16G Fibre Channel it can be used at this speed. Besides the data rate, the big difference between 8G Fibre Channel and 16G Fibre Channel is the encoding method. 64b/66b encoding used for 16G is a more efficient encoding mechanism than 8b/10b used for 8G, and allows for the data rate to double without doubling the line rate. The result is the 14.025 Gbit/s line rate for 16G Fibre Channel.
Like previous versions of Ethernet, 10GbE medium can be either copper or optical fiber cabling.  However, because of its bandwidth requirements, higher-grade copper cables are required: category 6a or Class F/Category 7 cables for lengths up to 100 meters. The 10 Gigabit Ethernet standard encompasses a number of different physical layer (PHY) standards.
SFP+ modules do only optical to electrical conversion, no clock and data recovery, putting a higher burden on the host’s channel equalization. SFP+ modules share a common physical form factor with legacy SFP modules,
Select the appropriate transceiver to provide the required reach. Depending on the product, you can obtain SFP+ transceivers for cable distances of up to 15 meters (m), 400 m, 10 kilometers (km), 40 km, and 70 km. Alternatively, you can use a direct attach cable.
Up to 300m link length with 2000 MHz*km MMF (OM3). Optical interoperability with 10GBASE-SRL
Up to 100m link length with 2000 MHz*km MMF (OM3). Optical interoperability with 10GBASE-SR
Up to 220m link length with 50 μm or 62.5 μm MMF links
Up to 10km link length on standard single-mode fiber (SMF, G.652)
Pre-terminated twin-ax copper cables with link lengths of 1m, 2m, 3m and 5m (SFP+ to SFP+ or QSFP to 4 x SFP+)
Bi-Directional Single Strand
Unlike previous Ethernet standards, 10 Gigabit Ethernet defines only full duplex point-to-point links which are generally connected by network switches; shared-medium CSMA/CD operation has not been carried over from the previous generations Ethernet standards. Half duplex operation and repeater hubs do not exist in 10GbE.
Multiple vendors have introduced single strand, bi-directional 10 Gbit/s optics capable of a single-mode fiber connection functionally equivalent to 10GBASE-LR or -ER, but using a single strand of fiber optic cable. Analogous to 1000BASE-BX10, this is accomplished using a passive prism inside each optical transceiver and a matched pair of transceivers, using a pair of wavelengths such as 1310 nm / 1490 nm or 1490 nm / 1550 nm. Modules are available in varying transmit powers and reach distances ranging from 10 to 80 km.

The Application of 100BASE-X SFPs Transceiver


In computer networking, Fast Ethernet is a collective term for a number of Ethernet standards that carry traffic at the nominal rate of 100 Mbit/s (the original Ethernet speed was 10 Mbit/s). Fast Ethernet is sometimes referred to as 100BASE-X, where “X” is a placeholder for the FX and TX variants. The standard specifies the use of CSMA/CD for media access control. A full-duplex mode is also specified and in practice all modern networks use Ethernet switches and operate in full-duplex mode.
The “100” in the media type designation refers to the transmission speed of 100 Mbit/s, while the “BASE” refers to baseband signalling. The letter following the dash (“T” or “F”) refers to the physical medium that carries the signal (twisted pair or fiber, respectively), while the last character (“X”) refers to the used encoding method.
Small Formfactor Pluggable (SFP)
The small form-factor pluggable (SFP) is a compact, hot-pluggable transceiver used for both telecommunication and data communications applications. The form factor and electrical interface are specified by a multi-source agreement (MSA) under the auspices of the SFF Committee. It is a popular industry format jointly developed and supported by many network component vendors. The SFP interfaces a network device (a switch, router, media converter or similar device) to a fiber optic or copper networking cable.
100BASE-TX SFP Transceiver
100BASE-TX is the predominant form of Fast Ethernet, and runs over two wire-pairs inside a category 5 or above cable. Like 10BASE-T, the active pairs in a standard connection are terminated on pins 1, 2, 3 and 6. Since a typical category 5 twisted pair cable contains 4 pairs, it can support two 100BASE-TX links with a wiring adaptor. Each network segment can have a maximum cabling distance of 100 metres (328 ft). In its typical configuration, 100BASE-TX uses one pair of twisted wires in each direction, providing 100 Mbit/s of throughput in each direction (full-duplex). BlueOptics© SFP 1000BASE-T, 100M, Copper Transceiver is one option for this category with RJ45 connector from CBO is designed for Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) high-speed applications of up to 1.25 gigabits per second over Cat5 Twisted Pair Cable.
100BASE-FX is a version of Fast Ethernet over optical fiber. This application uses a 1310nm near-infrared (NIR) light wavelength transmitted via two strands of optical fiber, one for receive (RX) and the other for transmit (TX). Maximum length is 412 metres. The BlueOptics© BO05A13602 SFP transceiver with LC duplex connector from CBO is designed for short-range multi-mode Fast Ethernet (FE), Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) or OC-3/STM1 SDH/SONET applications of up to 155 megabits per second.

What Is The Difference Between Singlemode SFP and Multimode SFP


There are two types of SFP transceivers, Single-mode SFP and Multi-mode SFP, both work with a different kind of optical fiber. The Single-mode (also known as Mono-mode) fibers are used with Single-mode SFP transceivers, whereas Multi-mode optical fibers are used with Multi-mode SFP transceivers. Let’s discuss the difference between both and what should we take care of when using them.

What are Single-mode SFP transceivers?

The Single-mode fiber (SMF) has much close-fitted receptions for optics used. The core of this type of fiber is much smaller (around 9 µm) and the transmitted laser wavelength is narrower. This allows Single-mode fiber the ability for much higher bandwidth and for much longer distances in transmission. Single-mode SFP transceivers work mostly in 1310nm and 1550nm wavelength and are typically used in longer transmission distances, reaching 2km to 160km. Two Single-mode fibers are used for the transmission, one for transmitting and the other one for receiving the optical signal from the SFP. There are also Single-mode Bidi SFPs with Simplex connection available which are used in pairs, if 1310 nm is transmitted and 1550 nm is receiving wavelength at one end, then the other SFP must be transmitting at 1550 nm and receiving at 1310 nm. With Bidi SFPs this is made possible via WDM technique, which allows transmitting and receiving over only one single fiber.

What are Multi-mode SFP transceivers?

The Multi-mode fiber (MMF) has a much bigger core (50µm) and typically uses a longer wavelength of light. Due to this, the optics used with Multi-mode fiber have a greater ability to accept light from the laser. The optics used with Multi-mode fiber are cheaper compared to the ones used with Single-mode fiber. The common Multi-mode SFPs operate over 850 nm wavelength and are only used for short distance transmissions from usually about 100m to 550m. Although Multi-mode fiber is not capable to carry signals for a longer distance, in combination with multi-mode transceivers it is the cheapest solution for short distances.

Since these both types of fibers, Single-mode and Multi-mode are not compatible with each other. One of the main reasons for an incompatibility can be the choosing of a wrong wavelength and thus a wrong laser source, what leads to the fact that the fiber has the wrong core size and thus a data transmission does not come to pass.

While selecting the right SFP module, we must check the transmission distance and wavelength we want to use. This will help us to select the accurate SFP modules more efficiently. Furthermore, the costs for transceiver modules which keep adding up over time will be a problem for many users. To save even more, we can choose BlueOptics transceiver modules, containing compatible types of SFP, SFP+, XFP, QSFP and QSFP28 modules, which are a lot cheaper than artificially overpriced originals, which use the same components. BlueOptics offers fiber optic transceiver modules for any brand, such as Cisco, HPE, Juniper, Brocade, etc. which are all 100% compatible!


The development of optical transceivers and their future


Nowadays, when we look at the product- and funcionalityrange of optical transceivers , we owe it to a long technical development.
Since the beginning, all transceiver specifications are defined under non-proprietary standards of the Multisource Agreement (MSA) of the SFF Committee. This allows intercomptability of products from different manufacturers.
At the beginning of the development of optical modules, only modules that had to be soldered into the hardware existed. These transceivers came in the 1×9 SFF format and were first used in 1999.
The maintenance of these modules was extremely time-consuming, a better solution was needed.
From now on, the development of optical modules split into two areas. In fixed and removable (hot-pluggable) optics.
In 2000, the first interchangeable module has been developed : The GBIC (gigabit interface converter) transceiver. It has a duplex SC connector and can be used at distances of up to 160KM.
This technological development offered many obvious advantages: In addition to simplifying maintenance, a network for the “pay as you grow” principle has now been established. By pluggable modules the user was easily able to subsequently increase the bandwidth on a network. The introduction of the GBIC modules by many large network manufacturers started the large spreading of this transceiver.
Unfortunately the GBIC module still had one major drawback: The size. The port density and thus the overall network performance declined significantly. Furthermore, for operators of large networks, such as Telecommunications providers, it was not necessary to upgrade the ports later on. In 2001, the actual fixed optics have appeared on the market: 2×5 SFF and 2×10 SFF. These transceivers are substantially smaller than the GBIC. This was now possible by the newly introduced LC duplex connectors and the resulting smaller PCBs (Printed Circuit Boards ) are possible and among other things. SFF optics are currently also still widespread very far. Today they are used, besides the building wiring, in most EPON ONU hardware and have been obtained strongly in importance by the proliferation of EPON networks again.
But in LAN and MAN networks only replaceable modules are used since the introduction of GBICs.
In the year 2002, the form factor SFP (Small form-factor pluggable) was put on the market. This contained a lot of advantages over the GBIC. It has an LC Duplex connector so that the entire design of the transceiver has been reduced to about a half of the GBIC module. This also accounted for the resulting disadvantages of dwindling port density and overall performance. All network manufacturers use SFP modules for entry-level devices or floor distributors till now on.
With the increasing demand for bandwidth an important step in the development of optical data transmission was made. In the year 2005, the first XENPAK modules were developed. These transceivers provide transmission rates up to 10 Gigabits. The Transmission works with an XAUI interface over 4 channels á 3.125 Gigabit. Thereby the bandwidth of the networks could be increased significantly. Ultimately the disadvantages of the technique predominated. High production costs, a too great design, which again led to lower port density, and the relatively high power consumption of up to 10W per port, could not cover the needs of the customers.
As the successor, in the year 2006, the X2 transceiver was published. Like the XENPAK transceiver, the X2 module has an electrical interface. The differences were minimal, but the next decisive step should not be long in coming.
In the year 2007  the first XFP transceiver was published. This offered significant advantages in the 10 Gigabit networking. The transmission is no more realized with four, but only through one serial channel. By that the PCBs could be significantly reduced, so the LC duplex connector could also be used with the XFP. These modules are only slightly larger than an SFP module, which finally brought an increase in port density 10 Gigabit networks. Furthermore, the power consumption, similar to an SFP, is only up to 3.5W.
The final stage of development in the 10 Gigabit transmission form is the SFP+ transceiver. This offers other minor improvements over XFP modules. The power consumption and the size could be further reduced. SFP+ is now the standard form factor for 10 Gigabit networks with all major network equipment.
In 2011, the first QSFP modules came on the market. This allowed a transmission of 40 Gigabit with a hot-pluggable module for the first time. The speed is achieved by four internal 10 Gigabit CWDM channels. The modules are slightly larger than a XFP transceiver and have a tab in the length of the module to be able to remove it from the hardware. QSFP transceivers also have a MPO/MTP connector.
Today there are two variants of these modules. The QSFP-SR , with a range of up to 150 meters on OM4 fibers, as well as the QSFP-LR, with a range of up to 10KM over OS2 fibers. The standards for QSFP-ER , with a range of 40KM, already exist. The BlueOptics will launch this QSFP -ER transceiver in the fourth quarter of 2014 as one of the first manufacturers worldwide.

Can I reduce my network costs by using Cisco compatible transceivers and cables?


Network equippers such as the Cisco Company are designed to bind their customers and move them to purchase only Cisco distributed hardware. In this case, the buyer is urged that only official Cisco components will work. In fact, some hardware (such as the Cisco Catalyst series) refuses to work with optical Transceivers, Direct Attach Cables or Active Optical Cables from third-party vendors without entering previously undocumented commands.
However, the possibility exists. For this reason, worldwide pluggable compatible products are deployed in Cisco hardware – the price saving compared to original products is enormous.
Especially large network operators with numerous ports can increase the scalability and significantly reduce costs by using Cisco compatible optical Transceivers, Direct Attach cables or Active Optical Cables.
Industrial Standards
For the user, the most important factor is the functionality of the products without any restrictions and, of course, a favorable price. As with all electronic components, different Cisco compatible optical Transceivers, Direct Attach Cables und Active Optical Cables also show significant differences concerning the installed components and the software programming. With the meanwhile large number of suppliers and differing prices on the market it is sometimes difficult to keep the overview. So what do you have to pay attention to?
In addition to compliance with generally applicable industrial standards, the required products must also be conform to the respective MSA (Multi Source Agreement) standards in order to ensure interoperability with the available fiber optic ports of the used hardware. In addition, the dimensions for an exact fit of the pluggable components are standardized in the MSA.
Optical Transceivers
Optical Transceivers (such as QSFP28, QSFP, SFP28, SFP+, XFP, etc.), should also be equipped with high-precision lasers that have a long lifetime and do not become “blind” after a short period of use in the network. Well-known brand manufacturers of quality lasers are Avago, Lumentum or Oclaro.
Another point is the use of ICs on printed circuit boards (PCBs). Here, there are also brand components of American companies such as Maxim Integrated, Netlogic, Mindpseed or Analog Devices. Manufacturers who rely on B-ware save a few more points, the follow-up costs due to maintenance work or even network losses because of the modules quickly exceed these small additional savings. The best compatible transceivers in the market reach lifetimes of up to 10 years by the use of brand lasers and ICs and are thereby qualitatively on the same level as the original Transceivers from Cisco.
Active Optical Cables
In the case of Active Optical Cables in addition to the transceiver connector (QSFP28, QSFP, etc.) the used fiber is also a decisive factor in the price formation of the product. On the one hand, different fiber categories can be selected (OM2, OM3, OM4). Depending on the bandwidth and link length you have to make right choice for your own requirements. Brand manufacturers such as Corning, Fujikura and YoFC offer high-quality fibers for interference-free transmissions.
Direct Attach Cables
Direct Attach Cables (for example with QSFP28, QSFP or SFP+ connection) are also available on the market in various qualities. High-quality components are components of well-known cable manufacturers such as Belden, TE Connectivity and Amphenol, which can be found in different wire diameters. In order to avoid CRC errors and ensure a consistently good connection in its network, the used cable must harmonize with the used hardware. Some switches, for example, require active cables with signal amplification, while others can be used with cheaper passive versions that only conduct the signals 1:1.
Compatibility of OEM products
In order for the products to work in the Cisco used hardware, they must be programmed accordingly in order to communicate with the hardware. As Cisco is the world’s largest manufacturer of network products, it has a very broad portfolio, and many different systems have emerged over time. For each individual system, the transceiver or cable used must be adapted accordingly to provide 100% functionality. Of course, there are many interoperabilities among the Cisco systems, which means that compatible products can also be used in different Cisco hardware without additional customization. Here it is important to have a manufacturer with the appropriate know-how, who can handle the compatibility mechanisms and offer long warranty periods.