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100G QSFP28 Optical Transceiver Comparison

Posted on By FS.COM

Nowadays, the trend for 100G Ethernet network is bullish and inevitable. Thus, the demands for 100G modules are becoming greater and greater that account for a relatively high proportion of network construction costs. Among various 100G optical transceivers that are capable of connecting 100G traffic, the 100G QSFP28 optical transceiver is the most preferred module for smaller size and lower power consumption. What are 100G QSFP28 optical transceivers? What are the differences between them? How do we choose 100G QSFP28 optics? Today, we will make a comprehensive comparison of 100G QSFP28 optical modules for you.

What Is 100G QSFP28 Optical Transceiver?

The 100G QSFP28 optical transceiver is designed for 100 Gigabit Ethernet, EDR InfiniBand, or 32G Fibre Channel. It generally has the exact same footprint and faceplate density as 40G QSFP+. Just as the 40G QSFP+ is implemented using four 10Gbps lanes, the 100G QSFP28 module is implemented with four channels of high-speed differential signals with data rates ranging from 25Gbps up to potentially 40Gbps. With an upgrade electrical interface, the QSFP28 100G transceiver is capable of supporting signals up to 28Gbps. QSFP 100G SR4, QSFP 100G LR4, QSFP 100G PSM4, QSFP 100G CWDM4, and QSFP 100G ER4 are the five common types of 100G QSFP28 modules designed to meet the different transmission distance requirements. Though the 100G QSFP28 module keeps all of the physical dimensions of its predecessors, it surpasses them with the strong ability to increase density, decrease power consumption, and decrease the price per bit.


100G QSFP28 Optical Transceivers.jpg

Figure 1: 100G QSFP28 Optical Transceivers

Differences between the 100G QSFP28 Transceiver

In this section, we will describe the differences between these 100G QSFP28 optics from the perspectives of standards, laser types, transmission media and transmission distances.

100G QSFP28 Optical Module Standards

The 100G QSFP28 optical module standards are mainly defined by two key organizations, namely IEEE and Multi Source Agreement (MSA). The QSFP28 SR4, QSFP28 LR4, QSFP28 ER4 are defined by the IEEE. How to clarify these three items from their names? The ‘QSFP’ means the form factor; ‘28’ represents that each lane has a maximum transmission rate of 28Gbps; ‘SR’ means short reach (100m), ‘LR’ is long reach (10km) and ‘ER’ is extended reach (40km). ‘4’ represents that the module has 4 lanes. For example, the QSFP28 LR4 means that it is a long reach 100G module which can transmit 100G signals over four wavelengths with a transmission distance of 10km.

100GBASE-SR4 and 100GBASE-LR4 are the most commonly used 100G interface specifications defined by the IEEE. However, the transmission distance of QSFP28 SR4 is too short to meet all interconnection requirements and the cost of QSFP28 LR4 is too high for large data centers. Therefore, MSA brought a solution for mid-range connectivity to the market and defined the standards of QSFP28 PSM4 and CWDM4. Although the capability of QSFP 100G LR4 completely covers QSFP28 CWDM4, but the QSFP 100G CWDM4 solution is much cheaper and more competitive than QSFP28 LR4 in the scenario of 2km transmission.

100G QSFP28 Laser Type

The laser plays an important role in the 100G QSFP28 optical transceivers which has five major types: VCSEL, FP, DFB, DML, and EML. Different types of lasers have different working wavelengths, modes and application environments.

Laser Type
Wavelength Working Mode Application Scenario
VSCEL 850nm Surface Emitting Within 200m
FP 1310nm/1550nm Edge Emitting 500m-10km
DFB 1310nm/1550nm Edge Emitting
40km
DML 1310nm/1550nm Direct Modulated 500m-10km
EML 1310nm/1550nm Electro-absorption Modulated 40km

The VCSEL laser features with small size, low power consumption, easy integration, low price and high coupling efficiency with multimode fibers, which is often used for QSFP28 SR4 modules. The QSFP28 LR4 and QSFP28 ER4 optics are used for long-distance transmission (10km or 40km), which need lasers with advantages of large eye volume, small dispersion, large extinction and long distance. The EML is designed to meet all those requirements for QSFP 100G LR4 and QSFP 100G ER4 transceivers. The DML can realize the signal modulation through the way of modulating the injection current of the laser. Since the magnitude of the injection current changes the refractive index of the active region of the laser, causing wavelength drift to generate dispersion. Thus, it is difficult to achieve high-speed signal modulation and it can not transmit for a very long distance. Thus, the DML laser is suitable for QSFP28 PSM4 and QSFP28 CWDM4 modules with a transmission distance of 500m or 2km.

QSFP 100G Transmission Media & Transmission Distance

The 100G QSFP28 optical transceivers are equipped with LC duplex or MTP/MPO-12 connectors, which transmission distances vary from 70m to 40km. The transmission distances of the QSFP28 optics decide the application scenarios of them. All the QSFP28 100G transceivers can be applied to direct connection, interconnection in enterprises and data center networks. The following diagram shows the specific differences of the QSFP 100G optics.

QSFP28 SR4 LR4 PSM4 CWDM4 ER4
Standards IEEE 802.3 IEEE 802.3 MSA MSA IEEE 802.3
Connector MTP/MPO-12 LC Duplex
MTP/MPO-12 MTP/MPO-12 MTP/MPO-12
Cable Type MMF SMF SMF SMF SMF
Wavelength 850nm 1295.56-1309.14nm 1310nm 1270-1331nm 1295.56-1309.14nm
Transmission Distance 70/100m 10km 500m 2km 40km
Transmitter Type VCSEL EML DML/FP DML DML

How to Select the 100G QSFP28 Optical Transceiver?

After introducing the differences of the various kinds of 100G QSFP28 optical transceiver, you may have a basic understanding of them. How to choose your QSFP28 100G modules in the practical application? Here is a selection guide for you.

For transmission distance between 5m and 100m, you can choose the QSFP28 SR4 optical transceiver module, it can transmits 70m using OM3 fibers or 100m using OM4 fibers.

For transmission distance between 100m to 2km, you can choose QSFP 100G PSM4 or QSFP28 CWDM4 modules. The cost of QSFP28 CWDM4 is much higher than the QSFP28 PSM4. However, the QSFP28 CWDM4 requires only two single mode fibers in two-way transmission which is much less than the eight single mode fibers of QSFP28 PSM4, the total cost of the QSFP 100G PSM4 raises very quickly. In practical applications, it is necessary to decide whether to use QSFP28 PSM4 or QSFP28 CWDM4 depending on the interconnection distance.

For transmission distance between 10km to 40km, you can choose QSFP 100G LR4 which has a maximum transmission distance of up to 10 km or QSFP28 ER4 transceivers which transmission distance can reach up to 40km.

Conclusion

In summary, all 100G QSFP28 optical transceivers are equipped with high-port density and low power consumption characteristics which is an ideal alternative for large scale data centers, as well as future network expansions. FS offers all kinds of 100G QSFP28 modules which run through programming and an extensive series of platform diagnostic tests to ensure their performance and compatibility. If you want to know more about them, please do not hesitate to visit fs.com.

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