Optical communication industry is a rapidly growing field which is closely related to the growth of the economy and people’s daily life. Optical transceivers can be one of the most typical optical components that witnesses the growth of this industry. Decades ago, 10Gb/s data rate is unimaginable. Optical transceivers for 10G Ethernet has experienced 300 pin transceiver, XENPAK transceiver, X2 transceiver and XFP transceiver. Since 2002 the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) published the industry standard, SFP+ transceivers gradually replaced XFP transceiver as the main transceiver for 10GbE.
But now 10Gb/s cannot satisfy the increasing demands of large throughput capabilities with the exploring and applying of technologies like virtualization, cloud computing and big data. Optical communication industry is now into the challenge of upgrading from 10Gb/s to 40Gb/s and beyond. Actually, migration to 40Gb/s is underway. Many data centers have already been migrated to 40GbE.
The typical transceiver witnessing this ongoing improvement is QSFP+ transceiver which contains 4 channels (each channel can support a data rate of 10 Gb/s) and brings a higher data rate up to 40 Gb/s. QSFP+ transceiver has a lot of great features. It provides data rate of 40 Gb/s and is only 30% larger than SFP transceiver, but it can provide 3 to 4 times density of SFP which can save space and money effectively. It is the most commonly used optical transceivers for 40G application. During 40G migration, QSFP+ transceiver is usually related to active optical cable (AOC)—a type of direct attached cable (DAC).
An active optical cable is a specialized optical cable that uses electrical-to-optical conversion on the cable ends to improve speed and distance performance of the cable without sacrificing compatibility with standard electrical interfaces. As manufacturers can match the electronics to the required length and type of cable, AOC is cost less than other optical solutions. In addition, when compared to the incumbent copper cables in most cases, active optical cable provides lighter weight, a smaller size, EMI immunity, a lower interconnection loss, and reduced power requirements.
Combining the advantages of QSFP+ transceiver and AOC, QSFP+ active optical cable is now an ideal solution for 40G migration which has become the choice for many who want to migrate their network to 40GbE.
Tips for selection: The QSFP+ transceivers and AOCs provided by the vendors now are standardized according to the IEEE standard. During the selecting of QSFP+ transceivers and AOCs, it would be very common to come across letters like “SR” and “LR” which actually describe some specific information of the products. Some are illustrated as following: SR—short range, LR—long reach, LRM—long reach multimode, ER—extended reach, PR—PON (passive optical network) and USR—ultra short reach. These letters can help to search the needed products with less time. Fiberstore provides a wide range of 40Gbase QSFP+transceivers and AOCs for many famous brand like Cisco, Juniper and Arista. Some of the 40Gbase QSFP+transceivers can be shipped within 12 hours after receiving the orders.
Then turn the attention to the market data. There is no wonder that the industry is experiencing 40G migration, according to research by IHS Infonetics. It reported that revenue from 10-, 40- and 100-Gigabit optical transceivers sold into the enterprise and data center markets grew 21 percent in 2014 to $1.4 billion, almost entirely due to increased 40G QSFP (quad small form factor pluggable) spending. In addition, even market for 100G data center optics is accelerating, the 40G QSFP transceiver is now still occupying most of the optical transceiver market.
QSFP+ optical transceiver witnesses the 40G migration today. However, just like decades ago when people could not assure that we would have enjoyed the data rates of 40 Gb/s, today people still cannot assert what would happen in the future. The only thing people can do is to explore every possibility to make things better.