It is obvious that optical transceiver is widely used in telecommunication and data center. Speaking of this, SFP module is inevitably involved. However, have you ever heard of SFP and SFP slot? Do you have any idea about how to use SFP slots? If not, read through this post to find what SFP slot is and how to use it.
What Is SFP Slot?
What is SFP port/slot? To figure this out, you must know what SFP is in the first place.
SFP, an acronym of small form-factor pluggable, is a compact and hot-pluggable transceiver used for both telecommunication and data communication applications. It connects motherboards of network devices (such as switches and routers) with optical or copper cables. By doing this, it converts Gigabit electrical signals into optical signals, and vice versa.
Therefore, just as its name implies, SFP slot is designed for use with SFP transceivers or modules. It offers a place where a SFP transceiver can plug into and then support fiber connection or copper cable connection. Different connection can support different transmission speed and distance. Normally, a Gigabit SFP inserted into a SFP port can reach a speed of up to 1 Gbps!
How to Use the SFP Slot?
SFP slot is also known as SFP port. Thus, this question can be referred to as how to use SFPs with SFP ports. SFP and SFP port usually work in pairs. That is to say, you should use SFP slot with a corresponding SFP. Normally, optical transceivers used in SFP slots can be divided into optical and copper SFPs. They can be used on a wide variety of products and intermixed in combinations of 1000BASE-T, 1000BASE-SX, 1000BASE-LX/LH, 1000BASE-EX, 1000BASE-ZX, or 1000BASE-BX10-D/U on a port-by-port basis.
The common match for SFP ports are copper SFP module applied with network cable and fiber SFP module applied with fiber optic cable. Network cable or copper cable includes Cat5e, Cat6, Cat6a, etc. While, fiber optic cable includes single mode fiber and multimode fiber. Therefore, if you want to know how to use SFP slot, you need to know how to choose right copper SFP modules or fiber SFP modules for SFP slots. As for how to choose the right SFP modules, go ahead for more details in the next two paragraphs.
A copper SFP module inserted into a SFP port has a RJ45 connector. It can transmit data within 100m over copper twisted pair cable. And the data transmission rate can reach up to 1000 Mbps. It is normally divided into two types, 1000BASE-T and 1000BASE-TX copper SFP. The former uses the IEEE 802.3ab standard using four bidirectional copper pairs, and each pair supports a data rate of 250 Mbps. While, the latter uses the TIA/EIA-854 standard using two unidirectional copper pairs (one pair for transmitting, one for receiving), each of which supports a data rate of 500 Mbps.
A fiber SFP module inserted into a SFP port has a LC duplex interface. It consists of seven types, namely 1000BASE-SX, 1000BASE-LX, 1000BASE-LX10, 1000BASE-LX/LH, 1000BASE-LH, 1000BASE-EX and 1000BASE-ZX. They are used under different circumstances shown in the picture below:
From all the above, you may have a general understanding of what a SFP slot is and how to use it properly. SFP ports are found in Ethernet switches, routers, firewalls and network interface cards, etc. If you want to transfer data in 100m, then either a copper SFP or fiber SFP is a right choice to match the SFP port. If you want to transfer data over 100m, then a fiber SFP is needed.