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SFP, SFP+, SFP28, QSFP+, QSFP28, What Are the Differences?

Updated on Jan 5, 2022 by
241.3k

SFP, SFP+, SFP28, QSFP+, and QSFP28 are different fiber transceiver types on the market. They are all hot-pluggable optical modules that are used to connect network switches or other devices. Then, SFP vs. SFP+, SFP28 vs. SFP+, QSFP vs. QSFP28, what are their differences? Can SFP28 transceiver plug into SFP+ slots? And how to choose between these five form factors transceiver modules? All explanations are here.

What are They?

Before concluding the differences of SFP vs SFP+ vs SFP28 vs QSFP+ vs QSFP28, it's wise to figure out what those form factors stand for.

SFP vs SFP+ vs SFP28 vs QSFP+ vs QSFP28

SFP: SFP was first introduced in 2001, and built to replace the larger form factor GBIC and support data rates of up to 1G data rate. But with the demands for higher bandwidths like 5G applications or IoT, 1G SFP modules nowadays are estimated to be out of the market in the future, although they still have some market share.

SFP+: 2006 saw the introduction of SFP+, an enhanced version of SFP with a higher data rate of up to 10 Gbps. SFP+ module is now still a dominant industry format transceiver module. Data transmission is available at 8Gbps, 10Gbps, and 16Gbps. Transmission distances cover from 30m to 120km and SFP+ transceivers are available with several different connector types such as LC Duplex, LC Simplex, and RJ45.

SFP28: With the same physical dimensions as the SFP and SFP+, the SFP28 fiber transceiver type was launched in 2014 and designed for up to 25Gbps transmission rate. Mainly used for 25G Ethernet and 100G (4x25Gbps) Ethernet.

QSFP+: Launched in 2012, QSFP+ (Enhanced Quad Small Form-factor Pluggable) is composed of 4 channels of 10Gb/s rate that support LC duplex and MPO-12 fiber connectors.

QSFP28: QSFP28 was also introduced in 2014 and shares the same physical dimensions as QSFP+, but uses 4 lanes of 25Gbps. QSFP28 is now the standard interface of choice for 100G applications.

More specifications of SFP vs SFP+ vs SFP28 vs QSFP+ vs QSFP28 are listed in the following Table 1.

 

Optics Type Standard Data Rate Wavelength Fiber Type Max Distance Typical Connector DOM Operating Temperature
SFP SFP MSA 155Mbps
622Mbps
1.25Gbps
2.125Gbps
2.5Gbps
3Gbps
4.25Gbps
850nm
1310nm
1550nm
CWDM
DWDM
BIDI
OM1
OM2
OS1
OS2
160km LC
SC
RJ-45
NO or YES

Commercial

Industrial

SFP+ IEE802.3ae
SFF-8431
SFF-8432
6Gbps
8.5Gbps
10Gbps
850nm
1310nm
1550nm
CWDM
DWDM
BIDI
Tunable
Copper
OM3
OM4
OS1
OS2
120km LC
RJ-45
YES

Commercial

Industrial

QSFP+ IEEE 802.3ba
QSFP+ MSA
SFF-8436
SFF-8636
Infiniband 40G QDR
41.2Gbps 850nm
1310nm
832-918nm
OM3
OM4
OS1
OS2
40km LC
MTP/MPO
YES

Commercial

Industrial

SFP28 IEEE 802.3by
SFP28 MSA
SFF-8472
SFF-8432
25.78Gbps 850nm
1310nm
OM3
OM4
OS1
OS2
10km LC YES

Commercial

Industrial

QSFP28 IEEE 802.3bm
QSFP28 MSA
SFF-8665
SFF-8636
103Gbps
112Gbps
850nm
1310nm
CWDM4
OM3
OM4
OS1
OS2
80km LC
MTP/MPO-12
YES

Commercial

Industrial

Comparison of SFP vs SFP+ vs SFP28 vs QSFP+ vs QSFP28

SFP vs SFP+

Same size with different speeds and compatibility. SFP+ is used in 10-Gigabit Ethernet applications while SFP is for 100BASE or 1000BASE applications. SFP complies with the standards of IEEE802.3 and SFF-8472 while SFP+ is based on SFF-8431. SFP+ ports can accept SFP optics but at a reduced speed of 1 Gbit/s. An SFP+ transceiver can not be plugged into an SFP port, otherwise, the product or port may be damaged. Normally, SFP+ is more expensive than SFP. Learn more about SFP vs SFP+ here: SFP+ vs. SFP Modules: The Different Roles in Network Infrastructure

.

SFP+ vs SFP28

SFP+ is mainly linked to 10G, while SFP28 is commonly associated with 25G connections. They use the same form factor, and the pinouts of SFP28 and SFP+ connectors are mating compatible. So SFP28 will work with SFP+ optics but at a reduced speed of 10 Gbit/s. 10G SFP+ modules will work well with the SFP28 port on a network switch if the port can be set up for 10G transmission, otherwise, the SFP+ modules can not work.Learn more about SFP28 module here: 25G SFP28 Transceiver Module Overview.

SFP+ vs QSFP+

The primary difference between QSFP+ and SFP is the quad form. QSFP+ is an evolution of QSFP to support four 10 Gbit/s channels carrying 10-Gigabit Ethernet, 10G Fiber Channel, or InfiniBand, which allows for 4x 10G cables and stackable networking designs that achieve better throughput. QSFP+ can replace 4 standard SFP+ transceivers, resulting in greater port density and overall system cost savings over SFP+. Get details about QSFP here: What Is QSFP+ Module: QSFP+ Transceiver Wiki and Types.

SFP28 vs QSFP28

SFP28 and QSFP28 transceivers actually adopt different sizes and working principles. SFP28 supports only one channel with 25 Gbit/s, while QSFP28 supports 4 separate lanes, and each is 25 Gbit/s. Both of them can be used in 100G networks, but the SFP28 is applied in the form of QSFP28 to the SFP28 breakout solution. Read article 100G QSFP28 Optical Transceiver Comparison to gain more pieces of information.

Conclusion

It's clear that the main driving force behind the evolution of optical transceivers is the need to achieve higher bandwidth rates with smaller form factors. In modern, dense networks, small form factors are a constant necessity. SFP vs SFP+ vs SFP28 vs QSFP+ vs QSFP28, after a clear understanding of them, you also have to consider your network traffic, transmission distance, and future-proof networking requirements to ensure the right selection.

Additional Learning Hub Resources

SFP vs. GBIC Modules: How to Choose the Right One for Your Network

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