What's XFP, XFP VS SFP+, Can We Connect XFP and SFP+?
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XFP vs SFP+, What’s the Difference? Can We Connect XFP and SFP+?

Posted on by FS.COM

In fiber optic networking, there exists such a kind of optical component, small in size but plays an important role. It is optical module. With the rapid development of telecom industry, optical module has been upgraded to 10G transmission capacity to meet the high speed requirement of network deployment. XFP module and SFP+ module both work at 10G data rate, but XFP vs SFP+, what is the difference? Have you encountered the issue about XFP and SFP compatibility? Can we connect XFP with SFP+? Keep reading, you will find the answer in this article.

XFP vs SFP+, What’s the Difference?

Firstly, let’s have an overview of XFP transceiver and SFP+ transceiver.

Overview of XFP Transceiver Module

XFP module is a 10 Gigabit small form factor pluggable transceiver and it is used with fiber optic cable for high-speed network. The XFP transceiver specification was developed by XFP MSA (Multi Source Agreement) group, an informal agreement of an industry group. The XFP specification was publicly released on July 19, 2002, adopted on March 3, 2003, and updated with minor updates through August 31, 2005. Operating at wavelength of 850 nm, 1310 nm or 1550 nm, XFP transceivers are protocol-independent and fully compliant to the following standards: 10 Gigabit Ethernet, 10 Gbit/s Fibre Channel, synchronous optical networking (SONET) at OC-192 rates, synchronous optical networking STM-64, 10 Gbit/s Optical Transport Network (OTN) OTU-2, and parallel optics links. Here is a figure of XFP module for you.

XFP transceiver module

Overview of SFP+ Transceiver Module

SFP+ transceiver is an enhanced version of SFP. It is defined by SFP+ MSA. The SFP+ specification was first published on May 9, 2006, and version 4.1 published on July 6, 2009. SFP+ module supports data rates up to 16 Gbit/s. It also supports 8 Gbit/s Fibre Channel, 10 Gigabit Ethernet and Optical Transport Network standard OTU2. In addition, SFP+ optical transceiver has several obvious advantages such as higher-speed, lower power consumption and lower system construction cost and so on. It is a popular industry format supported by many network component vendors. Here is a figure of SFP+ transceiver for you.

SFP+ transceiver

XFP vs SFP+

Both XFP module and SFP+ module are 10G fiber optical modules and they are mainly used in 10G fiber optic networking. However, there are still some differences between them.

 XFP is based on the standard of XFP MSA, while SFP+ is an enhanced version of the SFP and is based on the SFP+ MSA.
 XFP is compliant to 10 Gbit/s Fibre Channel, but SFP+ supports 8 Gbit/s Fibre Channel.
 The size of XFP is larger than SFP+, so their packages are different.
 In comparison to XFP, SFP+ leaves more circuitry to be implemented on the motherboard instead of inside the module because it moves some functions to motherboard, including signal modulation function, MAC, CDR and EDC.
 For 10G cable, SFP+ introduces Direct Attach Cable (DAC) for connecting two SFP+ ports without dedicated transceivers, but XFP has no cable version.
 An SFP+ port can accept SFP transceiver. If the switch accepts 1G and 10G optics in the SFP+ port, then you can put in SFP module to suit your needs. While XFP ports only accept XFP transceivers.

XFP vs SFP+, How About their Compatibility?

Sometimes we may encounter this situation, one switch which supports only SFP+ modules and it needs to be uplinked to another switch that only supports XFP. They both will be SR (Short Reach). The question is that can we connect XFP with SFP+? Is XFP compatible with SFP+? Let’s try to build a 10G link on Cisco WS-C3850-12XS-S ( with twelve SFP+ ports) and Cisco ME-3600X 24CX (with four XFP ports) to see if XFP is compatible with SFP+. Here we used FS.COM Generic 10GBASE-SR XFP transceiver and SFP+ transceiver. And we use OM3 multimode LC duplex fiber patch cable to connect them. The connection scenario is shown in the following figure.

can we connect XFP with SFP+

Actually it turns out the 10G connection with XFP and SFP+ works. As optical transceiver modules of 10G data rate, XFP transceiver and SFP+ transceiver are compatible. That means they can be used at opposite ends of a physical link, as long as they conform to the same wavelength and signaling rate. More specifically, SFP+ and XFP are with same specification. For example, if you plan to build 10G optical link in short reach, then both of XFP and SFP+ are 10GBASE-SR transceiver, working at 850 nm, and the cable used to connect them is OM3 fiber; if there will 10G link over long distance, then 10GBASE-LR XFP and SFP+ transceivers at 1310 nm wavelength are used, and you need to run singlemode fiber patch cable between them. But remember XFP and SFP+ are not interchangeable.

Recommendation of XFP and SFP+ Transceivers for You

To meet different requirements of 10G network building, there are several types of XFP and SFP+ transceiver modules on the market, such as 10GBASE XFP, BiDi SFP+, CWDM XFP, DWDM SFP+ and DWDM tunable XFP. As their names suggest, they are designed with different transmission technology. The table below recommends some FS.COM popular XFP and SFP+ transceivers for you.

FS.COM P/N Type Channels Operating Distance Interface DOM Support
XFP-10GSR-85 10GBASE-SR 850 nm 300 m LC duplex, MMF Yes
Cisco SFP-10G-SR 10GBASE-SR 850 nm 300 m LC duplex, MMF Yes
XFP-10G-BX40 10GBASE-BX 1330nm-TX/1270nm-RX 40 km LC simplex, SMF Yes
Juniper Networks EX-SFP-10GE-BX23 10GBASE-BX 1270nm-TX/1330nm-RX 10km LC simplex, SMF Yes
Cisco CWDM-SFP10G-1490 10GBASE-CWDM 1490 nm 80 km LC duplex, SMF Yes

Conclusion

10G Ethernet is still the mainstream among small size data centers, thus 10G fiber optic transceivers are indispensable. Though XFP transceiver module is not that as popular as SFP+ transceiver, it still has its place in 10G network. And it is not difficult to find that there is little difference between XFP and SFP+. What’s more, because of XFP and SFP+ compatibility, they can used at the end of point-to-point fiber link. This article shares some practical knowledge about XFP and SFP+ and I hope you can get something from it.

Related Article: Wavelength Switching Solution: Tunable XFP Transceiver

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