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Understanding of 10GBASE-T SFP+ Copper Transceiver Modules

April 14, 2017

With the broad adoption of network function virtualization (NFV) and unified data and storage networking today, servers are now seeing increased I/O demands. Direct attach cables, optical transceiver modules and 10GBASE-T SFP+ modules are the main solutions for the network requirements. But only the new 10G SFP+ copper transceiver offers the potential to deliver power-saving connectivity by utilizing Cat 6a/7 cable infrastructure with pay-as-you-grow flexibility. A comprehensive introduction on 10GBASE-T SFP+ modules will be discussed in this article from the aspects of basic information, features, advantages, applications and common FAQs.

10GBASE-T SFP+ Transceiver Overview

The 10G SFP+ RJ45 module delivers compatibility with Cat 6a/7 cable structured cabling with up to 100m link distance, at a minimum of 0.5W power saving per port over embedded 10GBASE-T RJ45 port. It is the first 10G copper SFP RJ45 module that offers 10Gb/s communication over Ethernet copper cables, which is compliant with SFF-8431 and SFF-8432 MSA standard. In addition, 10G copper SFP module offers greater flexibility for low-density 10G copper applications than a fixed-port 10GBASE-T copper switch by using the existing SFP+ port for copper transmission. 10G SFP+ RJ45 optical transceiver features are presented below:

  • Smaller form factor: Interoperable with any SFP+ cage and connector system.

  • Performance: Full PHY presentation, which means nothing will be missing.

  • Innovation: Hot-pluggable with a managed soft-start.

  • Auto-negotiable backward-compatibility: It can be compatible with previous generation 10/100/1000BASE-T networks for a seamless migration to 10GbE.

  • Cost: with the common RJ-45 connector, 10G copper SFP module has the benefits over SFP+ solutions. Because copper-based infrastructure is far less expensive than fiber optics. It is a cost-effective solution at up to 100m distance on UTP and STP cables and it is sufficient for all network access use cases.

Why Is 10GBASE-T SFP+ Copper Transceiver Needed?

10GBASE-T copper SFP+ transceivers, 10G DAC cables and 10G fiber SFP+ modules are the main solutions in the 10G Ethernet network. But with the cheap SFP+ DAC and reliable SFP+ fiber optics available for the 10Gbps application, why should people use the 10gb SFP+ copper transceiver modules?

  • Firstly, there are RJ45 electrical ports on switches for potential connection need of networking cables. However, the fact is that the RJ45 electrical ports on the switch for networking cabling may not be enough for copper networking requirements. In this case, 10GBASE-T SFP+ modules can convert the optical port to the electrical port to meet the demands for insufficient RJ45 ports on the switches.

  • Secondly, the length of the vast majority of links lies between 10m and 100m in data center and enterprise networks, the 10GBASE-T SFP+ copper module provides 10Gb/s of data transmission over distance of 100 meters implements the limitation of SFP+ DAC.

  • Thirdly, the 10GBASE SFP+ modules can be backward-compatible with 10/100/1000Base-T modules, which can save a bunch of budget for the data center networks. In addition, with the common RJ-45 connector, 10G copper SFP module has the benefits over SFP+ solutions due to that copper-based infrastructure is far less expensive than fiber optics.

  • Lastly, 10GBASE-T SFP+ copper transceiver is convenient for operators to deploy their network systems. When connecting 10G modules to copper networks, FS SFP-10G-T transceiver module can be directly added into the copper networks, while the 10G SFP+ optical fiber transceiver needs to connect with media converter to realize this connection.

10GBASE-T SFP+ RJ45 Modules Application

As mentioned above, 10Gb SFP+ copper transceiver is based on 10GBASE-T, which has the advantage of being an interoperable, standards-based technology that uses the familiar RJ45 connector and provides backward compatibility with legacy networks. SFP+ to RJ45 transceivers can be applied for Top of Rack, Middle of Row or End of Row architectures in data center and enterprise networks. The following figures present two applications for 10GBASE-T SFP+ modules.

Scenario one: Connecting server and/or storage appliances with 10GBASE-T RJ-45 to a SFP+ network switch.


Figure 1: 10GBASE-T SFP+ Copper Transceiver Connecting Server & Storage Appliance

Scenario two: Network upgrade to 10G at edge switches.


Figure 2: 10GBASE-T SFP+ Copper Transceiver At Edge Switch

10GBASE-T SFP+ Transceiver Modules FAQs

Q: How to connect 10 Gigabit Ethernet CNA/NIC Intel X550 with 10GbE switches by using 10GBASE-T SFP+ transceiver?

A: 10 Gigabit Ethernet CNA/NIC Intel X550 is a converged network adapter with RJ45 ports. 10GbE switches are usually equipped with SFP+ ports and the Inter X550 can not be linked directly with 10G switches. Therefore, the 10GBASE-T SFP+ copper modules can be inserted into the 10G switches by using Cat6a copper cables to realize the interconnection of 10GbE NICs with RJ45 port and 10G switches with SFP+ ports.

Q: Can I use Cat5e copper cables to link with 10G SFP+ copper transceivers?

A: No. The standard bandwidth of Cat5e is 100MHz, and it is designed to transmit signals below 90M. So the Cat6a copper cables are needed for 10 Gigabit signal transmission.

Q: Can the 10G copper SFP RJ45 module be used at low temperatures?

A: The SFP+ to RJ45 optical transceivers is available in commercial and industrial versions. Standard products are suitable for operating temperature range of 0~70 °C. For a wider temperature range, it is recommended to purchase industrial modules.

Q: What are the differences between a 10GBASE-T SFP+ copper transceiver and a 10Gb/s media converter?

A: Both of these two products can achieve mutual conversion between 10G electrical and optical signals. Three main differences between 10GBASE-T SFP+ module and 10G media converter are listed below:

  • Form Factor: 10GBASE-T module is on SFP+ form factor and with a small size while 10GbE media converter is bulky and requires an additional power supply.

  • Cost: Compared to 10G media converter, 10GBASE-T SFP+ copper transceiver is much cheaper.

  • Application Prospects: The market for 10G copper SFP RJ45 module is wider than 10G media converter due to that 10GBASE-T module can be delivered in batches with lower prices.

Q: Can 10Gb SFP+ to RJ45 transceiver increase the network transmission rate?

A: No. It is just a photoelectric conversion converter that does not process the signal and does not increase the signal transmission rate.

Q: Can a 10 Gigabit electrical SFP+ module be interconnected with a 1000BASE-T module?

A: Yes. They can be interconnected in one Ethernet network.

Related Article: 10GBASE-T vs SFP+ vs DAC: Which to Choose for 10GbE Data Center Cabling?


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