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What is the difference between QSFP56 and OSFP?
Knowledge Base + 2024.01.10

QSFP56 (Quad Small Form Factor Pluggable 56) and OSFP (Octal Small Form Factor Pluggable) are both types of optical transceiver form factors used in high-speed data communication applications, particularly in data centers and networking equipment. Here are the key differences between QSFP56 and OSFP: 

  1. Form Factor:

    • QSFP56: QSFP56 is a quad small form factor pluggable transceiver that supports four channels of data transmission. It is an evolution of the QSFP form factor, designed to support higher data rates.

    • OSFP: OSFP is an octal small form factor pluggable transceiver that supports eight channels of data transmission. It is designed to provide higher density and better thermal performance compared to QSFP. OSFP is intended for high-speed, high-density applications.

  2. Number of Channels:

    • QSFP56: QSFP56 supports four channels, each operating at a specific data rate, typically up to 100 Gbps per channel.

    • OSFP: OSFP supports eight channels, allowing for higher aggregate data rates. It is designed to support data rates of 400 Gbps and beyond.

  3. Size and Density:

    • QSFP56: QSFP56 has a smaller form factor compared to OSFP, which makes it suitable for applications where space is limited.

    • OSFP: OSFP is larger than QSFP56, but it provides higher density by supporting more channels in a single transceiver module.

  4. Data Rates:

    • QSFP56: Supports data rates commonly up to 100 Gbps per channel, but with the evolution to higher versions like QSFP-DD, it can support data rates of 200 Gbps and 400 Gbps.

    • OSFP: Designed for higher data rates, typically starting at 400 Gbps and potentially going beyond, depending on the specific implementation.

  5. Thermal Performance:

    • QSFP56: QSFP56 may have limitations in thermal performance due to its smaller form factor.

    • OSFP: OSFP is designed to offer improved thermal performance, which is crucial in high-density applications to manage heat dissipation effectively.

  6. Backward Compatibility:

    • QSFP56: Depending on the specific implementation, QSFP56 may be backward compatible with previous QSFP versions or may require new infrastructure.

    • OSFP: OSFP is not backward compatible with QSFP. It represents a departure from the QSFP form factor and requires a new infrastructure for deployment.

In summary, QSFP56 and OSFP are both optical transceiver form factors, but OSFP is designed to accommodate higher data rates and provide better thermal performance compared to QSFP56. The choice between them depends on the specific requirements of the networking or data center application.