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SFP Transceivers – Features, Types and Advantages

SFP transceiver stands for Small Form-factor Pluggable transceiver. This transceiver is compact and hot-pluggable. It is widely used in the field of Data Communication and Networking. This transceiver mainly acts as an interface between a networking device and its interconnecting cable.  This networking device can be any switch, repeater, router, multiplexer etc. The interconnecting cable may be made of copper or it can be an optical fiber cable. This transceiver which interfaces a device in the network to the cable is highly popular and can support devices and cables of various network vendors.


SFP transceivers are compatible with a number of communication standards like Ethernet, SONET along with many other standards. SFP is an upgraded version of Giga Bit Interface Converter (GBIC) module. SFP uses LC fiber optic cable for its interface whereas SC cable interfaces are used in GBIC. SFP is more space saving than GBIC, since the former has only half the size of the latter. SFP has transmission rate ranging from 100Mbps to 4Gbps and it can work at distances ranging between 500 meters to hundreds of kilometers. The ‘hot-pluggable’ feature of SFP makes it flexible. Any future changes can be easily incorporated into the SFP module, while the maintenance of the module is also made easier by this hot-pluggable nature of SFP, thereby making it compact.


SFP transceivers are of various types and each type comes with different configurations of transmitter and receiver. It is important to choose a proper transceiver to act as an interface between the device and the cable. This choice of transceiver is usually made based on the type of fiber optic cable. Such SFP transceivers which are used to provide the necessary reach to a fiber optic cable are categorized as optical SFP. These SFP modules are of several versions, wherein each version has different values of working wavelength and working distance: typical wavelength of different modules are 850 nm, 1310 nm and 1550 nm with working distances of 550m (SX), 10 km (LX) and 40 km (XD) respectively. There are also other types of SFP like DWDM, CWDM and bi-directional SFP with single fiber having upstream and downstream working wavelengths of 1310 nm and 1490 nm.


Certain SFP transceivers also use copper cables as interface. This will cause a device in the network to send their data over shielded or unshielded twisted pair cable. Usually such copper cable interfaces are used when the information to be transmitted needs to cover only shorter distances where use of copper cable is more economical than optic fiber cables.


SFP transceivers comply with the Multi Source Agreement between different manufacturers. Optical SFP transceivers come with digital monitoring features with the help of which one can monitor the performance of SFP in real time. This feature can be used to monitor SFP’s performance parameters like working temperature and wavelength, supply voltage, optical input and output etc. These transceivers have a PCB in them which connects to an electrical connector designed for SFP. SFP transceiver also has a 256 byte EEPROM memory. SFP transceivers are housed in a metal enclosure and their power dissipation is low. They operate over a wide temperature range and support a large number of different types of cable. An improved version of SFP standard called SFP+ can support transmission rates up to 10Gbps.


Thus SFP transceivers will soon replace all the existing interface standards in networking because of their compactness, flexible and economical design and high performance.


Related products:


SFP & GBIC fiber modules


Lomoveishiy – Finland

I needed those to connect my PC on the third floor to have internet access in that room, and ISP installed their modem on the first floor only. After dropping fiber patch cables, plugged in all cables into these media converters at both sides, and link came up instantly. Was much easier than I thought!

Raymond – USA

Great experience – units worked straight out of the box – just needed plug in cables and we were done. I also like the possibility to enable jumbo frames, while we do not have a need for this feature at the current moment it’s great to have this option.

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