By ksp | August 23, 2011
Many network engineers are likely familiar with the small form-factor pluggable (SFP) transceiver, which performs as an interface between a router or other like devices and a network cable. Whether it’s copper twisted pair cable or fiber optic lines, SFP transceivers will help you make an interface to your router or other like network device.
Deployed in optical communications for both telecommunication and data communications applications, SFP transceivers are compact and flexible because most major equipment manufacturers support the technology. Compatibility and error issues will be a distant memory because major manufacturers of networking equipment have enacted a multi-source agreement that ensures that SFP transceivers will fit into your network with no problems.
The transceiver can transmit digital electrical impulses created by the motherboard of your network device and transfer them into pulses of light, which can quickly pass through fiber optic lines. Regular twisted pair copper lines can also be the data pipeline rather than fiber optic channels if you choose to use SFP transceivers in your data or telecommunications network. SFP transceivers were preceded by XENPAK modules, which were widely accepted and supported when they came out in 2001, but now, XENPAK has become less favored as more recent technology has been introduced.
You can move data through your network at speeds up to 4.25 Gigabits per second with Cisco SFP transceivers, and with the similar XFP devices, data flies through your network at 10 Gigabits per second. Because SFP transceivers can be found with a variety of different kinds of receivers and transmitters, you can custom tailor each connection for the distance of optical network reach that you require.
Administrators should understand that compatibility among SFP transceivers and other networking hardware can be thwarted if the hardware manufacturer sets up firmware that locks out generic SFP transceivers in favor of its own products. In general, you can unplug or connect SFP transceivers without shutting down the network or disconnecting nodes because SFPs are “hot swappable,” which can be an added convenience for administrators.
Whether you favor hot swappable devices for the simple convenience of skipping system restarts whenever you need to make a network connection, or simply because you want to avoid network downtime, SFPs can help you achieve your goal. Hot swapping can be used to add or remove peripherals or components, to help a device to synchronize data with a computer, and to replace broken modules without interrupting equipment operation.
You’ll be looking at extra convenience and probably quicker data transfer rates when you use SFP transceivers.
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