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What cable does SFP use?
Knowledge Base + 2023.12.07

SFP transceivers can be categorized based on factors such as version, cable type, transmission range, data transfer rate, and application. Small form-factor pluggable or SFP modules have evolved in terms of technological advancements and hence their newer versions have been developed at each stage. Here are some SFP transceiver types based on their versions and the above factors.

SFP: This is a basic and standard version that is compatible with a wide range of network applications including Ethernet and fiber optics. These transceivers follow the SFP MSA standards.

  • Cable Type: Standard SFP modules can be used with Ethernet as well as fiber optic cables. Copper cables include unshielded twisted pair (UTP) cables. Fiber optic cable types for this transceiver type include OM1, OM2, OS1, and OS2.

  • Transmission Range: This is the maximum geographical distance an SFP transceiver can support based on the network type and other factors. In multimode network, it offers a transmission range from 100m to 500m, while in single mode, the transmission range is from 2km to 200km.

  • Transfer Rate: This SFP module supports a data rate up to 4.25 Gbps. It starts from 155Mbps and depends on the distance, signal strength, and so on.

  • Connector Type: There are various types of connectors used depending on the cable type. LC and SC connectors are used for connecting fiber optic cables with SFP ports, while RJ-45 connectors are used for any copper based Ethernet cables.

  • Applications: HD audio and video file transmission, fiber distributed data interface, point-to-point networking (PON) are some application areas of SFP.

SFP+: This is an advanced version of SFP transceivers and are commonly used for 10 Gigabit Ethernet, Fiber Channel, and other high-speed network applications. SFP+ transceivers are designed to IEE802.3ae, SFF-8431, and SFF-8432 standards.

  • Cable Type: SFP+ transceivers are suited for copper as well as fiber networks. The type of fiber optic cables used here are OM3, OM4, OS1, and OS2.

  • Transmission Range: With a good speed, SFP+ transceivers can help achieve a geographical distance of 120 km.

  • Transfer Rate: SFP+ offers high data rates between 10 Gbps and 25 Gbps depending on the distance and whether the network is single mode or multimode.

  • Connector Type: Usually, LC connectors are used for fiber optic cables, while RJ-45 cables for copper cables.

  • Applications: The applications areas are almost the same as XFP, which include OTU-2, parallel optics networks, and SONET. 

How to Choose an Ethernet SFP Module?

Choose SFP Copper or Fiber Module?

SFP module comes in various types on the basis of different classification standards. It works with copper Ethernet cables or fiber optical cables.

On the fiber optics side, there are single mode SFP module and multimode SFP module, which allows users to select the appropriate transceiver according to the required optical range for the network. Operation wavelength ranges from 850nm to 1550nm. Commonly, 850nm SFP can reach up to 550 meters with multimode fiber optics, and the 1550nm SFP supports up to a maximum of 160km via single mode fiber cables. On the other hand, copper SFP modules primarily are 1000BASE-T SFP and 1000BASE-TX SFP modules, which are excellent used in gigabit Ethernet networking within 100 meters.

More about Types of SFP transceivers

What is SFP Connector?

SFP connector or SFP plug is another name of SFP as SFP (small form-factor pluggable) is a compact and hot-pluggable interface connector. The SFP connector module functions as the intercommunication media between the network devices and cables to achieve photoelectric and electro-to-optical conversion. SFP interface is commonly used in SFP port network equipment such as Ethernet switches, firewalls, routers, network interface cards (NICs) for both data communication and telecommunication applications.


Figure: the optical interface of the 1000BASE-SX SFP connector module is located at the side of the dust cap. Once unplug the cap, will you see the optical interface.

According to transmission media, there are SFP copper connectors and SFP fiber connectors. Copper SFP uses an RJ45 SFP connector interface, whereas fiber SFP uses SFP lc connector, SFP sc connector, and SFP MTP/MPO connector interface as typical ones. According to the SFP forms, different SFP form factors often utilize corresponding SFP connectors.

The table below shows the SFP connector interface types for different SFP types.

SFP TypesMediaConnector
100 Mbit/s SFP
LC, RJ45
1 Gbit/s SFP
Fiber, copper
1 Gbit/s cSFP
10 Gbit/s SFP+
Fiber, copper, DAC
LC, RJ45
25 Gbit/s SFP28
Fiber, DAC
50 Gbit/s SFP56
Fiber, DAC
4 Gbit/s QSFP

40 Gbit/s QSFP+
Fiber, DAC
50 Gbit/s QSFP28
Fiber, DAC
100 Gbit/s QSFP28
Fiber, DAC
200 Gbit/s QSFP56
Fiber, DAC
400 Gbit/s QSFP-DD
Fiber, DAC

What Type of Connector is Used with an SFP Port?

SFP ports are frequently found in Ethernet network switches. These switches with 1G SFP ports as the major functional switch ports are called gigabit SFP switches.

SFP port on SFP switch supports both SFP copper connector and SFP fiber connector while RJ45 port can only take copper SFP module RJ45 connector. SFP connector types that 1G SFP port can take are RJ45 SFP connector, SFP lc connector, SFP sc connector.

FAQs about SFP Transceiver

Can We Use SFP Hardware in SFP+ Slots?

In many cases, the SFP+ port accepts SFP optics, but the speed will be down to 1G instead of 10G. However, SFP+ optics can not be plugged into the SFP port, because SFP+ does not support speed under 1G. In addition, almost all SFP+ ports on Cisco switches can support SFPs, but many SFP+ ports of Brocade switch only support SFP+ optics.

Can I use a 1000base-LX sfp for 1000base-SX fiber?

Generally, they are not interchangeable. 1000Base SX and LX are two optics standards with different operation wavelengths.1000Base LX SFP transceiver usually operates at 1310nm and uses single-mode fiber to connect, while 1000Base-SX usually is 850nm SFP and works with multimode fiber.

Can you aggregate multiple SFP ports?

Of course, you can. Link aggregation provides benefits like increased bandwidth, redundancy, and load-balancing. That will ensure that one link can immediately switch to a second available link when it fails. Therefore, aggregation on SFP ports is critical for enterprise networks where performance and security are more important. But note that, before connecting the SFP ports, please make sure that the switches have been configured for link aggregation. Otherwise, it will cause network loops.