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Which Patch Cord is needed for a QSFP Transceiver?

Typical data center connectivity bandwidth that is present in today’s infrastructure is 10Gbps and 40Gbps with already several appearances of 100Gbps. Many servers in data centers today can support Ethernet transmissions of 40G where 40G QSFP transceivers are considered to be the most economical solution for these high-speed links. Switches are the first connecting devices that aggregate the 40G links; in order to achieve that, 40G transmission networks need advanced switches with matching patch cords and transceiver modules.

What is the difference between Single-mode and Multimode Fiber Patch Cords for QSFPs?

The first factor that needs to be considered is the cable fiber type. This is because of the transmission characteristic optical signals of the fiber optic QSFP module. The optical signals perform different over different wavelengths. And optical signals with the same wavelength perform totally different when they run through different types of cables. Laser-optimized multimode fiber (LOMMF) has become the dominant fiber choice for speeds of 10Gbps, 40Gbps and 100Gbps on short distances. These 50-micron fibers are optimized for the 850-nanometer (nm) transmission of vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser (VCSEL)-based transceivers. While Single-mode fibers have a smaller core of 9-microns which are optimized for 1270nm to 1610nm transmissions, resulting in greater signal reach capabilities.



Up to 100m on OM3 MMF
• 8 fibers

Up to 10km on SMF
• 2 fibers

Up to 150m on OM4 MMF
• 8 fibers

QSFP OM4 BlueOptics Kabel

QSFP SM BlueOptics Kabel

QSFP OM4 BlueOptics Kabel QSFP SM BlueOptics Kabel

Which main QSFP Connector Types are available?

Parallel optical QSFP transceivers used for 40GBASE-SR4 and 40GBASE-CSR4 have 10-Gbps electrical lanes that are mirrored in the optical outputs and thus require a cable with eight fibers with an MPO / MTP connector interface. Each fiber either transmits (Tx) or receives (Rx) 10-Gbps traffic at a single wavelength.

Singlemode optical transceivers used for 40GBASE-LR4 use the same 10-Gbps electrical lanes, which are then combined in the optical outputs, thus requiring two fibers with an LC duplex connector interface. Each fiber simultaneously transmits and receives 40-Gbps traffic at four different wavelengths via WDM technique.

Usually 40G QSFP transceivers with MPO / MTP interface are designed for short transmission distances and Singlemode LC Duplex QSFPs for long transmission distance. However, 40G QSFP single-mode transceivers like 40GBASE-PLR4 also have MPO / MTP interfaces to support a longer transmission distance.

Which different 40G QSFP connection solutions are available?

The optical QSFP modules with MPO / MTP connector can be connected with two different cabling variants: One is 40G QSFP to 40G QSFP with a MPO / MTP trunk cable which connects the modules 1:1 and the other one is to connect 40G QSFP to 4x10G SFP+ with a MPO/MTP to 4xLC breakout cable. These cabling types are available for Multimode and parallel Singlemode modules. The QSFP LR4 module can be connected with a standard LC duplex single-mode patch cord. Since the multi-mode QSFP modules are much cheaper than the single-mode QSFPs and the MPO / MTP cabling is more expensive than a standard duplex patch cord, you have to choose by yourself what the best solution for your network is. There are also cheaper pre-terminated cabling solutions for shorter links available like Direct Attach Cables and Active Optical cables.

QSFP OM4 BlueOptics Kabel

Which different 40G QSFP connection solutions are available?

Between two devices like server and a switch or a switch and a switch you have the following cabling options for the interconnection:

  • - Pluggable optical modules - attached to networks via switch ports and server ports. This scenario allows easy upgrades and facile change of configuration. The connection takes place with MPO / MTP trunk or breakout cables.
  • - Passive and active direct-attach copper - Allows lower-cost short-reach capability; typically used for top-of-rack (ToR)-to-server connectivity. The draw-back is the limitation of distance to 5 Meter (passive) to 10 Meter (active). Regard that this twinax cable solution with pre-terminated QSFP connectors can be stiff and bulky in high-density deployments.
  • Active optical cable (AOC) assemblies - Active Optical cables (AOCs) are designed to have high performance, low power consumption, and longer reach than DAC (up to 100 Meter). 40G QSFP Active Optical Cables have pre-terminated optical transceiver and offer extremely low power consumption of only 0.78W per cable which improves data center power consumption and thermal efficiency.

Which Applications are supported by 40G QSFP?

  • InfiniBand SDR/DDR/QDR
  • Fibre Channel/Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE)
  • Storage Area Networks (SAN)
  • Network Attached Storage
  • Switched Fabric I/O
  • High density connections between networking equipment
  • Data center cabling infrastructure