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What is an SFP Module?

In order to build a network capable of allowing data traveling at varying strengths and speeds to effectively transition between connected devices and the internet, you must rely on a number of devices to bridge and connect the myriad of connections that might be in use. One of the most versatile and useful tools in building your network can be the Small Form-Factor Pluggable, or SFP module.

A Transceiver for Many Occasions

Small Form-factor Pluggable modules plug into corresponding ports of network switches, converting electrical signals and allowing connections to optical fiber cables on the other end. SFP’s can be configured according to the necessary interface speeds and are hot swappable to give the network flexibility and adaptability without requiring full installation changes. Standard SFPs, however, can only handle speeds up to 4.25 Gbps. As networks began requiring ever increasing speeds, iterations to the SFP module were made, including XFP and SFP+ transceivers that are capable of achieving 10 Gbps speeds. As network speeds have reached the 100Gb Ethernet threshold and networks become more complex, iterations of the SFP module have become as diverse as the types of connections they must bridge.

Network Complexities, SFP Diversity

There are a number of models in modern SFPs that allow them to fulfill their role in modern networks.

  • 1000BASE-T: Standard module that handles modern CAT5/5e/6a twisted-pair copper cabling up to 100m. These are capable of handling data rates up to 1000Mbps.

  • 1000BASE-SX: A duplex transceiver for multimode fiber up to wavelengths of 850nm. Compatible with legacy multimode fiber connections ranging from 220m-1km depending on the micron rating.

  • 1000BASE-LX/LH: Allows short and long distance data transmission. In single mode, this SFP can reach distances up to 10km through single mode fiber patch cable and 550m through multimode cabling. .

  • 1000BASE-EX: Used in long-reach single mode fiber lines up to 40km in length.

  • 1000BASE-ZX: Used in long-reach single mode fiber lines up to 70km in length. Requires optical attenuators to manage signals at shorter distances.

  • 1000BASE-BX10-D/U: Two devices (a module and a receiver) used in conjunction over single fiber bidirectional applications allowing transmission distances up to 10km.

Expert Networking Advice

It’s important to make informed decisions in planning the structure of your network. SANDirect advises its clients on the best network practices, including structure and connectivity, and provides access to some of the best products for network connectivity and service providers for storage solutions in the industry.

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