How to Understand RX/TX Power Range on SFP Modules?

Updated on Oct 7, 2021 by


This article explores how the RX/TX power range influences the performance of SFP modules, affecting both transmission distances and optical power budgets. By clarifying these concepts, it hopes to improve understanding of their impact on network connectivity and performance.

Overview of SFP Modules

SFP modules are compact and hot-swappable transceivers. They enable high-speed communication among network devices. They come in optical and copper variants. They support diverse media. They are crucial in telecommunications and enterprise networking.

Understanding TX/RX Power Range

What is TX/RX Power?

TX/RX power, in the context of networking and optical transceivers like SFP modules, refers to transmit (TX) and receive (RX) power levels.

  • 1. TX Power: This represents the strength of the signal emitted by a networking device or optical transceiver, within the transmitter power range. It influences the distance the signal can travel and the quality of communication.

  • 2. RX Power: RX power denotes the strength of the incoming signal received by a device. The device must detect and interpret incoming signals accurately.

TX and RX power are essential metrics for maintaining reliable network communication, ensuring optimal performance, and preventing signal degradation.

Factors Affecting TX/RX Power Range

Several factors influence the TX/RX power range, which is crucial for maintaining efficient communication in networking devices and optical transceivers:

  • 1. RX Sensitivity (Receiver Sensitivity): The ability of the receiver to detect and interpret incoming signals influences the RX power range.

  • 2. Optical Power Budget: The difference between TX and RX power levels determines the optical power budget, which is crucial for longer transmission distances.

  • 3. Transmission Distance: Longer distances may require higher TX power and increased RX sensitivity to ensure signal integrity.

  • 4. Fiber Losses and Attenuation: Optical signal losses due to fiber characteristics or environmental factors can impact both TX and RX power ranges.

TX/RX Optical Power Budget Calculation

Methods for Calculating TX/RX Optical Power

For calculating optical power, simply use a straightforward formula, where dBm represents decibel milliwatts. Decibel milliwatts are, as the name suggests, measured relative to milliwatts. It is a commonly used measurement for determining the signal strength of SFP modules or other devices. Some vendors may adopt milliwatt (mW) and microwatt (µW) to describe signal power. We should convert them to dBm before calculation.

For example, the TX power for FS 10GBASE-SR SFP ranges from -7.3 dBm to 1 dBm. The receiver power should be below -11.1 dBm. If the RX sensitivity is -12 dBm or lower, there may be an issue with the cable system. This could result from a bad splice, dirty connector, or other issues causing excessive signal loss.

Designing Optical Links with TX/RX Optical Power

How to Calculate Optical Power Budget?

When designing an optical link, one of the factors to consider is the optical power budget (maximum allowable loss). According to TX power and RX sensitivity, we can calculate the maximum allowable loss of the SFP modules. As illustrated above, 10Gbase-SR SFP Power Budget (dBm) = TX Power (-7.3 dBm) - RX Sensitivity (-11.1 dBm) = 3.8dBm.

Transmission Distance with Optical Power Budget

The more optical power budget, the further SFP modules can support. The 10GBASE-SR SFP can work up to 300 meters with OM3 multimode fiber patch cable. The 10GBASE LR SFP module allows for a 10G network up to 10 kilometers with single-mode fiber patch cable.

Example: Optical Transmit/Receive Power of a Module

The picture suggests a healthy link, especially for long outside plant runs (tens of km). In such cases, measured signal loss using an OTDR fiber test kit is expected. For these scenarios, we would be using the more expensive long-haul transceivers. These transceivers are more capable of sending and receiving usable signals in those more extreme situations.


TX/RX power level significantly impacts a transceiver's transmission range. Higher optical power budgets correlate with enhanced transceiver capabilities. Calculating the optical power budget based on module specifications is vital for achieving peak network performance. FS optical modules can simplify your decision-making during transceiver purchase by ensuring alignment with network needs and optimizing transmission efficiency.

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