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Optics 101

Optics 101

26th March 2020 | In Optical Transceivers
It is a common misconception that the world of pluggable optics is a complex one. Now, the technology may well be a bit like witchcraft (turning data into light, firing it down a fibre optic cable and then turning the light back into data, is pretty magical), but choosing the correct product for your requirement need not be.

Thanks to the MSA* standards there are specific requirements for your pluggable transceivers that simplify the selection and shouldn’t leave you scratching your head when trying to figure out what transceiver is required. In most situations you should be able to figure out the product you need by answering these three simple questions.

  • What am I connecting?
  • What speed do I need? (I am a poet and I didn’t know it)
  • What is the span of the link?

What am I connecting?

The type of switch you have will determine a few things. It’ll dictate the form factor as well as the speed of the transceiver required. But more importantly, it will determine the compatibility.

Most hardware vendors now require their optics to have some level of EEPROM coding in order for the switch to recognise the transceiver as its own. All our compatible optics are coded to the requirements of the hardware vendor.

What Speed do I need?

There are various speeds of pluggable transceivers available in the market today, from 100Base all the way up to the new to market 400G. The speed desired will decide what SFP and indeed what switches will be required.

What is the span of the link?

The span of the link will dictate the type of fibre and the mode required. Multimode for the shorter links and then singlemode for the longer links. Please take a look at the below ‘Optics Cheatsheet’ which shows the specifications on Ethernet pluggable optics which I am sure will be a great help.

*The MSA is a multi-vendors specification defining the transceiver form-factors (dimensions, electrical-connector, pinout, etc.) as well as the management interface, also called 2 wire interface. The MSA enables the interoperability between transceivers vendors and switches/routers vendors

Mike Peacey, Product Manager, Hardware
This should be enough to get you started, if you have any further questions please don’t hesitate to Get in touch with our team of experts.

View Optics Cheatsheet >

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