Types of Optical Modules

Optical modules are available in various types to meet diversified requirements.

  • Classified by transmission rates

Depending on transmission rates, optical modules are classified into 100GE, 40GE, 25GE, 10GE, FE, and GE optical modules.

  • Classified by encapsulation types

The higher transmission rate an optical module provides, the more complex structure it has. Optical modules are encapsulated in different modes to provide different structures. Huawei switches support optical modules of the following encapsulation types: SFP, eSFP, SFP+, XFP, SFP28, QSFP+, CXP, CFP, and QSFP28. All optical modules are hot swappable.

  • SFP: small form-factor pluggable. SFP optical modules support LC fiber connectors.
  • eSFP: enhanced small form-factor pluggable. An eSFP module is an SFP module that supports monitoring of voltage, temperature, bias current, transmit optical power, and receive optical power. Because all the SFP optical modules support these monitoring functions, eSFP is also called SFP.
  • SFP+: small form-factor pluggable plus, SFP with a higher rate. SFP+ modules are more sensitive to electromagnetic interference (EMI) because they have a higher rate. To reduce EMI, SFP+ modules have more springs than SFP modules and the cages for SFP+ modules on a card are tighter.
  • XFP: 10 Gigabit small form-factor pluggable. X is the Roman numeral 10, meaning that all XFP optical modules provide a 10 Gbit/s transmission rate. XFP optical modules support LC fiber connectors. XFP optical modules are wider and longer than SFP+ optical modules.
  • SFP28: with the same interface size as an SFP+ module. An SFP28 interface can use a 25GE SFP28 optical module or 10GE SFP+ optical module.
  • QSFP+: quad small form-factor pluggable. QSFP+ optical modules support MPO fiber connectors and are larger than SFP+ modules.
  • CXP: hot-pluggable high-density parallel optics transceiver form factor, which provides 12 channels of traffic in each of the Tx and Rx directions. It applies only to short multimode links.
  • CFP: C form-factor pluggable, a new standard for high-speed, hot-pluggable optical transceivers that support data communication and telecommunication applications. Dimensions of a CFP optical module are 144.75 mm x 82 mm x 13.6 mm (W x D x H).
  • QSFP28: with the same interface size as a QSFP+ module. A QSFP28 interface can use a 100GE QSFP28 optical module or a 40GE QSFP+ optical module.
  • Classified by physical layer standards

Different physical layer standards are defined to allow data transmission in different modes. Therefore, different types of optical modules are produced to comply with these standards. For details, see Standards compliance of the specific optical module.

  • Classified by modes

Optical fibers are classified into single-mode and multimode fibers. Therefore, optical modules are also classified into single-mode and multimode modules to support different optical fibers.

  • Single-mode optical modules are used with single-mode fibers. Single-mode fibers support a wide band and large transmission capacity, and are used for long-distance transmission.
  • Multimode optical modules are used with multimode fibers. Multimode fibers have lower transmission performance than single-mode fibers because of modal dispersion, but their costs are also lower. They are used for small-capacity, short-distance transmission.

Wavelength division multiplexing modules differ from other optical modules in center wavelengths. A common optical module has a center wavelength of 850 nm, 1310 nm, or 1550 nm, whereas a wavelength division multiplexing module transmits lights with different center wavelengths. Wavelength division multiplexing modules are classified into two types: coarse wavelength division multiplexing (CWDM) and dense wavelength division multiplexing (DWDM). Within the same band, DWDM modules are available in more types and use wavelength resources more efficiently than CWDM modules. DWDM and CWDM modules allow lights with different center wavelengths to be transmitted on one fiber without interfering each other. Therefore, a passive multiplexer can be used to combine the lights into one channel, which is then split into multiple channels by a demultiplexer on the remote end. This reduces the optical fibers required. DWDM and CWDM modules are used for long-distance transmission.

The transmit power of a long-distance optical module is often larger than its overload power. Therefore, when using such optical modules, select optical fibers of an appropriate length to ensure that the actual receive power is smaller than the overload power. If the optical fibers connected to a long-distance optical module are too short, use an optical attenuator to reduce the receive power on the remote optical module. Otherwise, the remote optical module may be burnt.