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What does the SFP stand for?
Knowledge Base + 2024.01.05

SFP stands for "Small Form-factor Pluggable." SFP is a compact, hot-pluggable transceiver module used in data communication and telecommunication applications. These modules support a variety of communication standards, including Ethernet, Fibre Channel, and SONET/SDH.

The "small form-factor" part of the name refers to the compact size of the module, which allows for high-density installations in networking equipment such as switches, routers, and media converters. The "pluggable" aspect indicates that these modules can be inserted and removed from the equipment without the need to power down the device.

SFP modules come in various types to support different types of optical fibers (single-mode or multimode) and different data rates. They are widely used for connecting network devices over short or long distances using fiber optic cables.


SFP and SFP+ transceivers are virtually identical in size and appearance. The primary difference is that SFP+ is an updated version that supports higher speeds up to 10Gbps. The difference in data rate also accounts for a difference in transmission distance—SFP typically has a longer transmission distance. SFP+ specifications are based on SFF-8431. In terms of SFP vs SFP+ compatibility, SFP+ ports often accept SFP optics but at a reduced speed of 1Gbps. Be aware, however, that you cannot plug an SFP+ transceiver into an SFP port because SFP+ does not support speeds less than 1Gbps.


Prior to SFP and SFP+, the most common transceivers were gigabit interface converters, or GBICs. SFP, sometimes called mini-GBIC, replaces GBIC because of its smaller size.

What is a QSFP Port?

QSFP, or quad small form factor pluggable, is another type of compact, hot-swappable transceiver. It supports Ethernet, Fibre Channel, InfiniBand and SONET/SDH standards with different data rate options. QSFP modules are commonly available in several different types: 4x1Gbps QSFP, 4x10Gbps QSFP+, 4x28Gbps QSFP28.

QSFP+ and QSFP28 are the most recent versions, which support numerous 40Gbps and 100Gbps applications. Both QSFP+ and QSFP28 modules integrate 4 transmit and 4 receiver channels. While QSFP+ supports 4x10Gbps or 1x40Gbps, QSFP28 can do 4x25Gbps, 2x50Gbps or 1x100Gbps, depending on the transceiver used. The specifications for QSFP are based on SFF-8436.

How to Choose SFP Transceivers?

In addition to SFP vs SFP+ vs QSFP, you’ll also need to consider the application. SFP transceivers are available in different types depending on what they will be used for, for example single-mode vs multimode SFP. Single-mode SFP transceivers work with single-mode fibre, whereas multimode SFPs are compatible with multimode fibre. Additionally, there are long-reach WDM SFP transceivers for multiplexing, simplex SFPs for single fibre applications, video SFP transceivers for transmission of high-definition video, and PON SFP transceivers for fibre-based access networks. SFPs are available in commercial and extended operating temperature ranges, with or without extended diagnostics capabilities.