Category Archives: Network Solutions

SFP Connector vs SFP+ Connector vs SFP28 Connector

SFP (Small Form-factor Pluggable) module connector with various data speed rate is one of the major optical transceivers used for data communication. With ever-increasing demand for faster speed and higher density, the SFP connectors have experienced several generations of update for the signal speed capability as well as port density, from the original SFP to SFP+ and then to the new SFP28 type. The compatibility of these connecting ports is the pain point for many subscribers in data communication transmission. So what’s the similarities and differences between them and are these module connectors compatible with each other when plugged into switches? SFP28 vs SFP+ vs SFP connector, which one should you choose? This paper will give you the answer.

What Is SFP Connector?

Specified by a multi-source agreement (MSA), SFP connector was first introduced in early 2000 and designed to replace the previous gigabit interface converter (GBIC) connector in fiber optic and Ethernet high-speed networking systems. Based on the IEEE 802.3, SFF-8472 protocol specification, SFP module connectors has the ability to handle up to 4.25Gb/s with greater port density than the GBIC, which is why SFP is also known as mini GBIC. This allowed it to quickly become the connector of choice for system administrators who liked the idea of being able to significantly increase their output per rack. The SFP connectors can support Gigabit Ethernet, Fibre Channel, Synchronous Optical Network (SONET) and other communication standards.

What Is SFP+ Connector?

To cater the need for faster transmission speed, the SFP+ (or SFP10) was introduced in 2006, as an extension of the SFP connector. Based on IEEE802.3ae, SFF-8431, and SFF-8432 protocol specifications, the SFP+ is designed to support data rates up to 10Gb/s. Compared with its predecessor SFP, the newly SFP+ can support Fibre Channel, 10GbE, SONET, OTN, and other communication standards. The SFP+ is similar in size to the SFP connector. And the primary difference between an SFP and a SFP+ is their transmission speed. It is noticeable that SFP/SFP+ are both copper and optical.

SFP Connector

SFP28 Connector–The Third Generation of SFP Connector

As the third generation of SFP interconnect systems, the SFP28 (Small Form-Factor Pluggable 28) is designed for 25G performance specified by the IEEE 802.3by. The SFP28 connector delivers increased bandwidth, superior impedance control with less crosstalk compared to the SFP10. SFP28 can be sorted into SFP28 SFP-25G-SR and SFP-25G-LR. The former is designed to transfer data over short distance (up to 100m over MMF) while the latter is suitable for long distance transmission (up to 10 km over SMF). Utilizing 25GbE SFP28 leads to a single-lane connection similar to existing 10GbE technology, however it can deliver 2.5 times more data, which enables network bandwidth to be cost-effectively scaled in support of next-generation server and storage solutions.

Are the SFP, SFP+ and SFP28 Products Backward Compatible?

In most cases the connector and cable assembly are all backward compatible – an SFP+ connector is a direct replacement for an SFP connector to ensure simple upgrade to customer systems. As these are standard products, the cable assembly will also be compatible between the systems – an SFP copper cable assembly can be inserted to an SFP+ cage and mate with a SFP+ connector on the board.

Then how about the new SFP28 product? Since transceivers with various SFP connector types have become an important constituent of data communication network, compatibility issue of SFP28 and SFP+ is controversial among many subscribers. Here is a typical topic from Reddit, and it says like “For a project we’re looking to purchase some nexus 93180YC-EX ToRs for 25Gb+ down to the compute nodes. Cisco states that the downlink 25Gb ports are also 10Gb capable, but one can only really assume that means that the port is compatible with SFP+ optics too. Cisco’s SFP+ compatibility matrix appears to support that claim, however just curious if any of you have any SFP28 experience yet to confirm?”

The answer is definitely “yes”. SFP28 adopts the same form factor as SFP+, just running at 25 Gb/s instead of 10Gb/s, which offers better performance and higher speed. Besides, the pinouts of SFP28 and SFP+ connectors are mating compatible. Therefore, SFP28 connector is backwards compatible with SFP+ ports. That is to say, an SFP28 can be plugged into an SFP+ port and vice versa, but plugging an SFP+ into an SFP28 port would not get you 25Gb/s data rates.

Conclusion

SFP28 vs SFP+ vs SFP connector? Have you made clear which one to choose? Whether choosing SFP or SFP+ depends on your switch types. If your switch port only supports 1G, you can only choose the 1000BASE SFP (eg.MGBSX1). If it is a 10G switch, it depends on the speed and distance you require. When choosing between SFP28 and SFP+, it all depends on the transmission data rates you need. The SFP28 aims to build 25GbE networks that enables equipment designers to significantly reduce the required number of switches and cables. Thus when considering reduced facility costs related to space, power and cooling, the SFP28 would be the optimal choice for you.

What Is SFP Cable And How Is It Used?

SFP cable, also known as 10G SFP+ cable, SFP+ DAC twinax cable or SFP+ AOC cable, is a form of high speed cable with Small Form Factor Pluggable Plus on either end. They are suitable for in-rack connections between servers and switches. SFP cable’s popularity can be attributed to that Cat5e copper cabling and 1000BASE-T have dominated data center interconnection application for years, however, the upgrading to 10GE, 40GE and beyond poses a significant hindrance in both power consumption and cost. At this point, 10G SFP+ direct attach copper swoops in and becomes a new favor of Top of rack switching.

10G SFP cable

What Is SFP Cable?

SFP twinax cable which replaces two optical modules and a connectorized optical fiber with a twinaxial copper cable assembly offers the higher density, lower cost, and lower power 10 Gigabit Ethernet solution than other cable types such as 10GBASE-CX4 and CAT6/CAT6A 10GBASE-T. The SFP cables can be classified to 10G SFP+ DAC cable and 10G SFP+ AOC cable. SFP+ AOC features longer transmission distances(>100m), isolation from signal interference and crosstalk and higher signal transmission capacities but it’s more expensive than SFP+ DAC. SFP+ DAC consists of active DAC and passive DAC. Passive DAC cables have no signal amplification built into the cable assembly hence for ultra short reach(<5m), whereas active DAC cables have signal amplification and equalization built into the cable assembly for a litter longer reach(5-15m) in the same time with a higher price.

10G SFP DAC vs AOC

SFP Cable: 10G SFP+ Cable vs. 25G SFP28 Cable

We’ve already known that SFP+ is made to operate at 10Gb/s. And SFP28, as the enhanced version of SFP+, is designed for 25G signal transmission. SFP28 utilizes the same familiar form factor as SFP+, but the electrical interface is upgraded to handle 25Gbps per lane. To put it simply, 10G SFP+ cable and 25G SFP28 cable just has the same form factor but with different speed. What’s more, 25G SFP ports can support a full range of 10G SFP+, which means 10G SFP+ cable can be plugged into 25G SFP ports.

How SFP Cable Is Used?

As 10G network is widely deployed in today’s data center, 10G SFP cables are commonly used in interconnect applications below 100m, such as server to switch or storage to switch interconnection in the same rack (Shown in the below picture). And now 25GbE is popular and 25G direct attach cable assemblies, such as SFP28 DACs, are already available in the market. For 40GbE, 40G QSFP+ DACs and AOCs are used. Of course, higher speed and more bandwidth are needed for spine switches. Thus, 100G DACs, like QSFP28 DACs are used in this case.

sfp cable application

Conclusion

With the convenience of plug and play technology, FS.COM’s family of 10G SFP cable delivers throughput that exceeds those of industry standards. Besides, they also offer a variety of high speed interconnect DAC assemblies including 40G/56G QSFP+ cable, and 100G QSFP28 cables to satisfy the demands from 10G to 100G interconnection. All of direct attach copper cables can meet the ever growing need to cost-effectively deliver more bandwidth, and can be customized to meet different requirements.

Recommendations for Gigabit Switch with 10G Uplink Port

Gigabit network switches connect Ethernet devices in a network while providing great performance capabilities. In many network structures, gigabit Ethernet switches are often used as access switches that connect devices in a local area network. As the pace of network migration is getting fast, the need for gigabit switch with 10G uplink is growing too. And numbers of network administrators desire to apply 1G switch with 10G uplink in their systems.

Understanding Gigabit Switch with 10G Uplink Port and Its Market

Gigabit switches with multiple port configurations enable the network capacity to expand in consumer or corporate environments. For example, an 8 port gigabit switch can provide fast transmission speed for office users, and an 24-port gigabit switch works effectively for small and mid-sized business networks (SMBs). While 802.11ac has changed the way business support the quantity of devices connecting to each other. For network switches in last three years, 10G uplink added significantly to the cost for the switches with less than 48 ports, which isn’t what the customer want.

FS gigabit switch with 10G uplink port

Over the years, gigabit switches in the market usually come with gigabit SFP port. When users want to find one 1G switch with 10G uplink port to speed their networks, they find most gigabit switches with 10G uplink port only exist in 48-port gigabit Ethernet switches. However, not every user needs a 48-port gigabit switch for their applications. But they have to pay for the extra ports which they do not use. Considering this, a multitude of vendors like Dell, FS.COM, MikroTik, Netgear and D-link begin to supply gigabit switch with 10G uplink in the market. Now except for the early 48-port gigabit switch, 8-port, 16-port and 24-port gigabit switches with 10G uplink are available in the gigabit switch market for different size applications.

Recommendations for Popular Gigabit Switches with 10G Uplink Port

48-port gigabit switches are the early type of network switches that provide 10G uplink port. And numbers of users are familiar with this switch. Now there is a multitude of 8-port and 24-port gigabit switches with 10G uplink port appear in the switch market, which satisfy users’ demand as well as boom the market. Here are popular 24-port gigabit switches coming with 10G SFP+ uplink port.

Gigabit Switch Mode 10/100/1000 Ethernet ports Gigabit SFP SFP+ Uplink ports Switching Capacity Forwarding Rate Layer Support Price

FS S3700-24T4S

24

/

4

128Gbps

95.232Mpps

Layer 2+

$289

MikroTik
CRS226-24G-2S+RM

24

/

2

88Gbps

No Info

Layer 3

$299

D-Link DGS-1510-28X

24

/

4

128Gbps

95.24Mpps

Layer 2+

$395

FS S3800-24T4S

24

/

4

128Gbps

95Mpps

Layer 2+

$299

Zyxel XGS4600-32

24

4 combo

4

136Gbps

101.1Mpps

Layer 3

$1477

From the chart we can see, all the gigabit switches listed above provide 24 port 10/100/1000 Ethernet RJ45 ports. Apart from the MikroTik CRS226-24G-2S+RM 24-port gigabit switch that only has 2 SFP+ ports, the leaf gigabit switches come with 4 10G SFP+ ports for uplink to fully exploit the power of 10G servers and storage supporting high bandwidth applications like data backup and replication, and high-volume transaction processing. And they support extensive Layer 2+ or 3 features, enabling them have the same performance as 48-port gigabit switches.

In addition, with the 10G uplink port, most 1G switches can realize stacking or uplink, which make the entire network more efficient. Lots of users have complained that 10G links are expensive, thus getting cheaper, but still not cheap. However, from the chart, the price of four 24-port gigabit switches with 10G uplink port above is less than $400, which is really cost-effective for today’s Ethernet networks.

Summary

Gigabit switches with 10G uplink port can provide high speed data pipes to servers and storage devices. By taking advantage of the SFP+ fiber optic connectivity, those 8-port or 24-port 1G Ethernet switches offer an ideal solution for remote and branch offices.

Related Article: Cheap PoE Switch: 24 Port PoE Switch Price Comparison
Related Article: FS.COM LAN Access 10G Switch Analysis

What’s the Difference: 10GBASE-SR vs 1000BASE-SX

As the development of fiber optic network, there appears lots of industry standards for fiber optic transceivers. Although transceivers with different standards may have different features and performance, they sometimes can be used in the same switch port. Thus, many people may get confused by these transceivers. For example, 10GBASE-SR and 1000BASE-SX transceivers can both be inserted into the Cisco Catalyst 2960S-48TD-L switch, but the 10GBASE-SR transceiver may not work fine with the 1000BASE-SX module in another switch. Why? This post will discuss 10GBASE-SR vs 1000BASE-SX and whether 10GBASE-SR transceiver can down-support connect to 1000BASE-SX transceiver.

connect 10GBASE-SR to 1000BASE-SX

10GBASE-SR vs 1000BASE-SX

As mentioned above, 10GBASE-SR and 1000BASE-SX are two kinds of industry standards for fiber optic transceivers. This part will introduce them in turns.

10GBASE-SR

10GBASE-SR is defined in the IEEE 802.3 Clause 49 standard, specially designed for multi-mode fiber optic medium that uses 850 nm lasers. It has a data transmission rate of up to 10.3125 Gbps and can be used over multiple cabling options. But the transmission distance may differ as the fiber cable changes. For example, when used over OM1 cabling, the 10GBASE-SR has a maximum working distance of 33 meters, as opposed to 82 meters when applied over OM2 cabling. Nowadays, the 10GBASE-SR module usually applied over OM3 and OM4 cablings to give a more structured optical cabling used in large buildings. And the transmission distance respectively are 300m and 400m.

1000BASE-SX

Like 10GBASE-SR, 1000BASE-SX is also an IEEE 802.3z standard for the multi-mode fiber optic cabling. But it has a minimum transmission distance of 220m and a maximum of 550m. Offering 1Gbps data transmission rate, 1000BASE-SX modules are mainly used to connect high-speed hubs, Ethernet switches, and routers together in different wiring closets or buildings using long cabling runs.

Can 10GBASE-SR Transceiver Down-Support Connect to 1000BASE-SX Transceiver?

10GBASE-SR modules are generally referring to 10GBASE-SR SFP+ transceivers, and 1000BASE-SX modules are usually 1000BASE-SX SFP transceivers. And since SFP+ and SFP transceivers share the same size (as shown below), SFP transceivers can often used in most SFP+ ports (For example, almost all SFP+ ports of Cisco switch can accept SFP transceivers). Then can a 10GBASE-SR SFP+ transceiver down-support connect to the 1000BASE-SX SFP transceiver?

10GBASE-SR vs 1000BASE-SX

10GBASE-SR vs 1000BASE-SX Transceivers

The answer is no. Unlike copper SFP transceivers, 10GBASE-SR SFP+ transceivers do not have such functions as auto-negotiation. In fact, both 10GBASE-SR SFP+ and 1000BASE-SX SFP transceivers can only run at the rated speed fixed by the electro-optical conversion ASIC built into the transceiver hardware. That’s to say, 10GBASE-SR SFP+ transceivers can only run at 10Gbps and 1000BASE-SX SFP transceivers run at 1Gbps. So there is no such fiber link that one end does 1G while the other end does 10G.

10GBASE-SR vs 1000BASE-SX: Have You Known the Differences?

To conclude, although 10GBASE-SR and 1000BASE-SX share something in common, they are totally different Ethernet standards for transceivers. 10GBASE-SR SFP+ transceivers mainly work in 10G links, while 1000BASE-SX transceivers can only run at 1Gbps even though in the SFP+ slot. Thus, it will not work out to connect a 10GBASE-SR SFP+ transceiver with a 1000BASE-SX SFP transceiver.

Related Article: What Is SFP Connector, SFP+ Connector and SFP28 Connector?
Related Article: Choose 10GBASE-T Copper Over SFP+ for 10G Ethernet

Hyperconverged Infrastructure Basics

Hyperconverged infrastructure has been talked a lot in recent years and its adoption is skyrocketing in data centers. However, many people are still confused by this term. This post will introduce it in details.

What’s Hyperconverged Infrastructure

Hyperconverged infrastructure is often named HCI. It is introduced in 2012 to describe a fully software-defined IT infrastructure that virtualizes all the elements of conventional hardware-defined systems. In other words, the networking and storage tasks in the hyperconverged infrastructure are implemented virtually through software rather than physically in hardware. Generally, hyperconverged infrastructure is at least composed of virtualized computing (a Hypervisor), a virtualized SAN (software-defined storage) and virtualized networking (Software-defined networking). It can be utilized as a way to pool together resources so as to maximize the interoperability of on-premises infrastructure.

Hyperconverged Infrastructure

Hyperconverged Infrastructure VS Converged Infrastructure

Hyperconverged infrastructure and converged infrastructure are two alternative solutions to replace the traditional IT infrastructure. This part will tell the differences between them to help you choose one over another for your network deployment.

Hyperconverged Infrastructure VS Converged Infrastructure

Hyperconverged VS Converged Infrastructure Components

Converged infrastructure defines compute, storage, networking and server virtualization—which are the four core components in a data center—as one dense building block. Hyperconverged infrastructure is born from converged infrastructure and the idea of the software-defined data center (SDDC). Besides the data center’s four core components, hyperconverged infrastructure integrates more components such as backup software, snapshot capabilities, data deduplication, inline compression, WAN optimization and so on.

Hyperconverged VS Converged Infrastructure Principle

Hyperconverged infrastructure is a software defined approach. It means the infrastructure operations are logically separated from the physical hardware, and all components in a hyperconverged infrastructure have to stay together to function correctly. While converged infrastructure is a hardware-focused, building-block approach. Each component in a converged infrastructure is discrete and can be used for its intended purpose. For example, the server can be separated and used as a server, just as the storage can be separated and used as functional storage.

Hyperconverged VS Converged Infrastructure Principle

Hyperconverged VS Converged Infrastructure Cost

Converged infrastructure allows IT to use a single vendor for end-to-end support for all core components instead of the traditional approach where IT might buy storage from one vendor, network from another and compute from another. It also offers a smaller footprint and less cabling, which can reduce the cost of installation and maintenance.

Hyperconverged infrastructure allows IT to build, scale and protect your IT infrastructure more affordably and effectively. For example, a 10GbE Access Layer Switch (8*10/100/1000Base-T+8*1GE SFP Combo+12*10GE SFP+) specially for hyperconverged infrastructure only costs US$ 1,699. And the software-defined intelligence reduces operational management, providing automated provisioning of compute and storage capacity for dynamic workloads.

Conclusion

It is reported that hyperconverged infrastructure will represent over 35 percent of total integrated system market revenue by 2019. This makes it one of the fastest-growing and most valuable technology segments in the industry today. The upfront costs of hyperconverged infrastructure may be a little high now, but in the long term it can pay off.