Migration to 40Gbps & 100Gbps Ethernet


As new applications, devices and architectures continue to demand ever higher speed networks, 40Gbps and 100Gbps Ethernet links are rapidly coming on line. In fact, volume is starting to build and switch port as well as transceiver prices are dropping rapidly. If you have not stepped up to these new technologies there are a number of new concepts, components and terminology with which you will want to become familiar. Of course there are a number new form factors for optical transceivers supporting a variety of transmission distances and fiber types. These form factors are not the primary focus of this post (they will be presented in separate blog post). One major trend is the use of multiple parallel optical paths (including parallel fibers) to achieve the total 40Gbps or 100Gbps interface transfer rate. A second trend is using multiple wavelengths and integrated wavelength division multiplexing to achieve multiple paths but on single fibers.

Because of modal dispersion issues, at speeds of 25Gbps or more, it is very challenging to achieve reaches of more than 5 or 10 meters on multimode fibers. Therefore, most multimode transceiver implementations at 40G/100G use multiple parallel links each running at rates of 10Gbps or 25Gbps. While some may be familiar with the use of multi-fiber ribbon cables terminated with MPO connectors for interconnection between with fiber patch panels, these cables are now being used directly on 40G and 100G transceivers.  Another result of moving more to parallel paths is expanded use of Direct Attached Cables (DACs, both fiber and copper). While DACs were somewhat popular as a low-cost alternative to fiber transceivers at 10Gbps, there increased bulk was a significant concern in some applications, like high density data centers. With the advent of ribbon fiber with MPO connectors on 40G/100G optical transceivers, the ‘bulk’ difference between Copper and Fiber connections is substantially lessened.


Since 40/100G Ethernet multimode QSFP modules use parallel optics technology which requires data transmission across multiple fibers simultaneously, multi-fiber connectors are needed. MPO (often referred to as MTP which is actually a brand name from US Conec) is the specified connector type for multi-mode 40/100G Ethernet. The fiber cable used with these connectors is typically OM3 although singlemode (OS1) is also in what are referred to as PSM (Parallel Single Mode) interfaces. Of course these connectors and cables are backward is compatible with legacy 1Gbps and 10Gbps interfaces.

MPO2The MPO connector is quite robust and features a keying mechanism so the connector only mates in on position. A common problem with previous duplex connectors (like dual-LC or dual-SC) is reversing of transmit and receive. Since the MPO connector contains both transmit and receive fibers and can only be assembled in a single orientation, this problem should be eliminated. A nice feature of the MPO connector is the audible locking “click” which occurs when the connector is seated. Also, the connector retention mechanism is very reliable. Once seated the connector cannot be separated without firmly grasping and pulling back on the plastic sleeve (shown in aqua in figure above).

40GBASE-SR4 Ethernet uses a 12 position MTP/MPO connector interface. In this connector all twelve fibers are in a single row. The four leftmost fibers are used for transmit data, the middle four fibers are left unused, and the four rightmost fibers are used for receive data.

MPO Pins

Three options are defined for the 100GBASE-SR10 Ethernet interface. This first two, shown below, use two separate 12 position MTP/MPO connectors, one for all of the Tx fibers and the other for the Rx fibers. Neither of these options appear to be actually used in commercial implementations. The 3rd option utilizing a 24 position MPO has become the de facto standard in the marketplace. The MPO is arranged in two rows of 12. The middle 10 fibers of each row are used while the outermost fibers at each end of the rows are vacant. 10 fibers in the upper row for transmitting data and the remaining 10 fibers in the lower row for receiving data.

MPO Pins2


40G/100G DACs

Direct Attached Cables (DACs) are assemblies composed of a fixed length of copper or fiber cable with standard pluggable transceiver module(s) permanently fixed to each of its ends. There are many variations of DACs for a variety of 40G and 100G applications with the following being the most common:DACsThere are a number of other variations available including 100G QSFP28 to 10X 10G SFP+ breakout cables and a 100G QSFP28 to 4X 25G QSFP.

The primary advantage of using DACs versus paired transceivers with a length of cable is cost savings. The biggest disadvantage is the fixed length of the assemblies. In applications where location of equipment is carefully planned in advance and link lengths are known quite accurately and will remain fixed over the life of the installation (for example, a datacenter build) DACs can be a very economical alternative.


As IT infrastructures migrate to 40G and 100G speeds, network designers must carefully weigh alternative implementations of such links. Direct Attached Cables (DACs) are a low cost alternative to more flexible pluggable transceivers interconnected by fiber. New MPO connectors with their multi-fiber ribbon cables may be new an unfamiliar versus the ubiquitous LC and SC connectors of the past. However, by understanding the keying and pinout arrangements of MPO connections, reasonable multimode and low cost singlemode connections are possible even at 40G and 100G speeds.


Solution to your 10G Copper

10GBase-T words sm

Almost five years after SFP+ form factor 10Gbps transceivers emerged in volume, usable 10GBASE-T SFP+ transceivers are finally becoming available. While 10GBASE-T ports are quite commonplace on Network Interface Cards (NICs) and on a variety of network appliances (firewalls, storage devices, etc.), they are quite uncommon on the switches and routers to which many of these servers and appliance would like to connect. The reason is that these interfaces have consumed far too much power to operate in pluggable SFP+ slots. Of course this mismatch has led to numerous connectivity problems. All of the fixed 10BASE-T to SFP+ 10G ports cases (shown in blue) in the figure below have been impossible without some kind of external device, perhaps an expensive media converter, involved.


With the availability of copper 10G SFP+ modules, all of the above scenarios are straightforward. Simply plug the 10GBASE-T SFP+module in an available slot and connect with a CAT-6A/7 cable.

Fluxlight 10Gbps Copper SFP+ Key Features

  • Supports Links up to 30m using Cat 6a/7 Cable
  • SFF-8431 and SFF-8432 MSA Compliant
  • IEEE 802.3az Compliant
  • Low Power Consumption (2.5W MAX @ 30m)
  • Fast Retrain EMI Cancellation Algorithm
  • Low EMI Emissions
  • I2C 2-Wire Interface for Serial ID and PHY Register Access
  • Auto-negotiates with other 10GBase-T PHYs
  • Supports 100/1000Base-T using Cat 5e cable or better
  • MDI/MDIX Crossover
  • Multiple Loopback Modes for Testing and Troubleshooting
  • Built-in Cable Monitoring and Link Diagnostic Featureso
    • Cable Length Measurements
    • Opens/Shorts
  • Robust Die Cast Housing
  • Bail Latch Style ejector mechanism
  • Unshielded and Shielded cable support



Introduction to BiDi Optical Transceivers


In the past few years a new class of pluggable optical transceivers have been developed that send and receive optical signals end-to-end over a single fiber strand. This reduces by half the amount of fiber required for that same total data transmission. This factor-of-two improvement can lead to substantial cost savings especially in campus environments with large numbers of connectivity endpoints.

Bi-Directional transceivers, called BiDi’s for short, use two different wavelengths to achieve transmission in both directions on just one fiber. The modules are deployed in pairs, one for the upstream (“U”) direction and another for the downstream (“D”). The standard defining these parts is the IEEE 802.3ah Gigabit Ethernet 1000BASE-BXnn (nn= transmission reach in kilometers) specification for point-to-point Ethernet in the First Mile (EFM) applications.



The value of the BiDi solution derives from the reduction in the use of fibers by a factor of two. There are many situations in real-world networks where this reduction is extremely important if not absolutely required. As mentioned above, the IEEE802.3ah specification defining BiDi’s mentions point-to-point Ethernet in the First Mile (EFM) applications. In addition BiDi transceivers can be of great use in any situation where only limited fibers or limited conduit space is available. Other common applications include: digital video and Closed Circuit TeleVision (CCTV) applications and high-density switch-to-switch port interconnection.

BiDi Technology…how they work…

As mentioned above BiDi transceivers are deployed in matched pairs, one for the upstream (“U”) direction and another for the downstream (“D”), each part transmitting at a different wavelength. The figure below depicts the details of such a matched set of BiDi transceivers. In this example, the two wavelengths utilized by the BiDi pair are 1310nm and 1490nm. Typically the “Upstream” or “U” transceiver transmits at the shorter of the two wavelengths and the “Downstream” or “D” module the longer wavelength.


The key additional technology present in BiDi’s that is not present in standard 2-fiber transceivers is the “Diplexer”. The Diplexer acts simultaneously couples the locally transmitted wavelength onto the single fiber while “splitting” off the received wavelength so it is directed at the receiver.

Economic Case for BiDi’s

The value of the BiDi solution derives from the reduction in the use of fibers by a factor of two. There are many situations in real-world networks where this reduction is extremely important if not absolutely required. As mentioned above, the IEEE802.3ah specification defining BiDi’s mentions point-to-point Ethernet in the First Mile (EFM) applications. In addition BiDi transceivers can be of great use in any situation where only limited fibers or limited conduit space is available. Other common applications include: digital video and Closed Circuit TeleVision (CCTV) applications and high-density switch-to-switch port interconnection.

The simplest economic case for BiDi’s is probably a campus environment requiring fiber connectivity to a large number of endpoints. For example, most universities campuses are spread over a fairly wide area and required high-speed (read: fiber) connectivity between campus core resources (e.g., databases, computing resources, common internet access, etc.) and a large number of classrooms, dorm rooms, and faculty and administrative offices. The following is a simple economic model to demonstrate the savings possible in such an environment using BiDi versus standard 2-fiber transceivers.

So, for a campus environment where average link length is greater than 800 feet, the BiDi solution is the right decision. In an real world example, a large university campus lighting 400 GbE fiber links with an average length of 1600 feet used BiDi’s to save $32,000 versus using 2-fiber transceivers.

Fluxlight’s BiDi Offering

FluxLight, Inc. offers BiDi transceivers in the SFP form-factor supporting 1GbE for all major switch brands (e.g., Cisco, HP, Juniper, Extreme, Brocade-Foundry, etc.) and for most 2nd and 3rd tier brands. 10GbE SFP+ BiDi’s are also available for most of the larger brands. If the switch vendor you use is not in this list, please contact us as we can generally cross-reference one of our solutions to your switch.

We offer a 1Gbps SFP BiDi’s to cover a wide range of distances including: 10km, 20km, 40km, 80km and 120km, all of which are ROHS compliant. To aid in turn-up and maintenance of BiDi links, all FluxLight BiDi transceivers support Digital Diagnostics Monitoring (DDM as defined in standard SFF-8472) allowing real-time monitoring of parameters of the SFP, such as optical output power, optical input power, temperature, laser bias current, and transceiver supply voltage. Our 10Gbps BiDi transceivers are available supporting reaches of 20km, 40km and 60km.

Global Fiber Optic Market to reach $4.4 billion by 2021

With a compound annual growth rate of 7.40% from 2015 through 2021 and an increasing demand for high bandwidth, fiber optical components will be rising in demand for the years to come. As the increase in demand for cloud based services increases as well, so will the amount of fiber components in data centers. The advances in medicinal technology have also led to a major increase in demand for fiber optics in the health sector.

The main fiber optic component markets types are LC, SC, ST, MPO/MTP and a few others. The main industries in demand for fiber optical components are the Telecom Industry, Datacom (Data Centers), DWDM systems, Lasers, and now Medicine Technologies.

Geographically, the fiber optic market has been established in North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia Pacific, the Middle East, and Africa. In 2014 it was North America that reigned supreme with revenue in the fiber market.

To take a look at results for 2015 and projections by the Transparency Mkt. Research group, request a sample study here.

Component Cost Keeping You Down?

Learn How to Grow Your Fiber Optic Network on a Budget

Is the cost of networking components keeping you from expanding? If so, keep reading to learn the number one way to grow your fiber optic network without breaking the bank.

FluxLight asked optical networking professionals to tell us the number one challenge they face when upgrading or expanding their fiber optic equipment. The most frequent answer we received was related to cost – specifically, the expense of purchasing new networking components.

Fighting transmission loss and preventing signal dispersion tied as the second greatest challenges faced in expanding networks, with an inability to find fiber optic adaptors coming in last (see Figure 1, below).

Figure 1: Biggest Network Expansion ChallengeBiggest Network Expansion Challenge

We also asked those same professionals to tell us what would make their jobs easier in the future. The top three most commonly requested items were:

  1. Lower Cost Components
  2. A Greater Variety of Components
  3. Higher Bandwidth Components

Of those professionals who took our survey, nearly 57% said they did not currently use third party networking equipment.

Using Third Party Fiber Optic Networking Equipment is the

#1 Way to Save Money When Expanding Your Fiber Optic Network!

If you need to grow your fiber optic network on a budget, or just enjoy saving money, consider switching to third party fiber optics. Many third party networking equipment suppliers use the exact same manufacturing facilities as name brand suppliers, and offer the exact same quality components. The only difference is the label and the price!

For example, in this price comparison chart, you will see that FluxLight charges just $84 for its SFP-10G-SR transceiver, while a Cisco® reseller charges $691.99 for the exact same transceiver. That’s an 823% markup!

While the savings can be significant, it’s important to ensure that the third party manufacturer you select is producing quality components. Before making a purchase, verify that the equipment you are buying complies with all MSA and other industry standards, is brand new, is tested prior to shipment, and is 100% guaranteed compatible or your money back.

At FluxLight, we offer all of these guarantees to our clients, in addition to a free 30-day product evaluation, free shipping within the United States and discounts for bulk purchases.


Non-commercially viable technologies don’t always make it out of R&D, but a promising advance called silicon photonics might still has some hope.

Chipmakers over at Intel and IBM have already undergone research in this area, but today we find that the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of California’s Berkeley, and the University of Colorado’s Boulder are declaring that a prototype will be complete in 2017.

By integrating the ability to send data through light in chips, Silicon Photonics would drastically change data centers and even consumer computing. Vladimir Stojanovic, lead researcher at Berkeley, has said that “…the biggest challenge is packaging the technology affordably”. This will likely impede consumer advances and roll out through data centers for 2016. As it cheapens, silicon photonics will make its’ way towards the PC and mobile markets, drastically changing the way we do data. Click here to see some of the obstacles physicists are taking on with silicon chips. Until the silicon rolls out, FluxLight has got you covered.