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General information 

Optical transceivers or ‘modular optics’ are used in networks to transmit large amounts of data over glass fiber. They hold significant advantages over copper, such as low latency, longer distances and higher speeds. Modular optics are plugged into routers and switches and offer a flexible and interchangeable solution.

To reduce costs of Research and Development, manufacturers like Cisco, HP, and Juniper agreed to standard dimensions and specifications for these modules and refer to them as ‘form-factors’.  

The first form-factor for 1GE was the GBIC (Gigabit Interface) and the first form-factor for 10G was XENPAK.  Both evolved to the same form-factor: SFP (Small Form-factor Pluggable), which was then also used for other speeds including 100Mbit and 1000Mbit.  Although the dimensions are the same as the 1G, the 10G version is named SFP10G or SFP+ (Enhanced Small Form-factor Pluggable).  The SFP provides a compact solution with the same functionality as the older form-factors.

There are various form-factors available above 10G, such as the QSFP (Quad Small Form-factor Pluggable) for 40G and QSFP28 for 100G and CFP.  The ‘C Form-factor Pluggable’ is seen in three different shapes; CFP, CFP2, and CFP4.  Over time the size of the CFP was reduced twice by a scale factor of two, which resulted in the CFP4. The latest form-factor available in the market is the QSFP-DD. 

Optical Transceivers have different specifications for different needs; They can differ in speed from 100mbit to 400G. They can also differ in strength measured in dB power budget from 10dB to 41dB. And  they are also available in different light colors used in the multiplexing techniques like CWDM and DWDM.  Most Router and Switch hardware producers focus on just a fraction of what is available on the optical transceiver market. Solid Optics can provide you with a wide variety of compatible transceiver options for close to 100 brands such as Cisco, Juniper, HP, Dell, Brocade, Arista, Alcatel-Lucent and many more.


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