Tag Archives: SMF

40G Deployment: The Cost Difference Between SMF and MMF


40G network are now being extensively adopted within LANs and data centers. 100G is still predominantly in the carrier network, but could soon extend its stretch to your local network. There exists much confusion as to whether to choose single-mode fiber (SMF) or multimode fiber (MMF) for deploying 40G bandwidth, and how to get fully prepared for scaling to higher-speed 100G. If you are hesitating to make the choice, you may find this article helpful.

MMF optics and SMF optics cost

Multimode Fiber (MMF): Cost-effective With Higher Tolerance to Dirt

Cost-effectiveness: Multimode fiber (MMF) has been evolving to handle the escalating speed: OM3 has been superseded by OM4 and OM5 is there ready to use. MMF has a wider array of short distance transceivers that are easier to get. One of the liable argument that in favor of using MMF is that multimode optics use less power than single-mode ones, but only in condition that you have tens of thousands of racks. In essence, MMF still has its position under certain circumstances, like cabling within the same rack, in Fiber Channel and for backbone cabling in some new construction buildings.

cost-effective multimode fiber solution

Tolerance to Dirt: Multimode fiber tends to have a lot more tolerance to dirty connections than single-mode fiber. It can handle very dirty couples or connectors to ensure reliable and consistent link performance. Besides, it is easy to terminate, and more accommodating bend radius. So MMF is preferred by links that change frequently or are less than permanent.

multimode fiber MMF advantage in data center

Single-mode Fiber (SMF): Higher Capability and Better Future-proofing

Speed capability: Capacities are really vital for network growth. SMF does so with relatively larger capability than that of MMF. The gap between SMF and MMF cabling is much wider for high-density, high-speed networks. If you want to go further with SMF, say scaling to 100G or beyond, you simply need to upgrade the optics. Unlike using MMF, in which you have to upgrade the glass (OM3 to OM4 to OM5), the labor cost concerning this cannot be underestimated. The capacity for scaling of SMF alone makes it worth the cost. You can use single-mode for almost everything, no need for media conversion. SMF offers enough bandwidth to last a long time, making it possible to upgrade 100 Gbps to Tbps with CWDM/DWDM.

single-mode fiber SMF advantage

Future proofing: Despite the fact that SM optical transceivers usually cost higher than MM optics, SMF cabling is cheaper and can support much longer distance and reliable performance. Not to mention that bandwidth on SMF keeps going up and up on the same old glass. The good news is that the cost of SMF is dropping in recent years, and it is redesigning to run with less power, thus advocators of SMF think that it is pretty much the only rational choice for infrastructure cabling and the sure winner for today and tomorrow.

SMF and MMF: A Simple Comparison of Cost

There is no doubt that SMF is a better investment in the long run, but MMF still has a long way to go in data center interconnections. In fact the price difference of SMF optics and MMF optics can be minimized if you choose the right solution. Assuming to connect two 40G devices at 70 m away, let’s see the cost of SMF and MMF in the following chart.

Module Connector Type SMF or MMF Price 2 Connections 4 Connections 6 Connections
40GBASE-SR4 MPO12 MMF, OM4 $49.00 $564.48 $1128.96 $1693.44
40GBASE-BiDi LC MMF, OM4 $300.00 $1534.24 $2734.24 $3934.24
40GBASE-LR4 LC SMF, OS2 $340.00 $1,609.84 $2,969.84 $4,329.84
80 Gbit 160 Gbit 240 Gbit



Choosing the right fiber for your network application is a critical decision. Understanding your system requirements in order to select the appropriate fiber will maximize the value and performance of your cabling system. Be sure to select the right cable on the basis of aspects including link length, performance, and of course costs. FS provides a broad range of 40G optical transceivers and fiber patch cables with superior quality and fair price. For more details, please visit www.fs.com.

SMF or MMF? Which Is the Right Choice for Data Center Cabling?

Selecting the right cabling plant for data center connectivity is critically important. The wrong decision could leave a data center incapable of supporting future growth, requiring an extremely costly cable plant upgrade to move to higher speeds. In the past, due to high cost of single-mode fiber (SMF), multimode fiber (MMF) has been widely and successfully deployed in data center for many years. However, as technologies have evolved, the difference in price between SMF and MMF transceivers has been largely negated. With cost no longer the dominant decision criterion, operators can make architectural decisions based on performance. Under these circumstances, should we choose SMF or MMF? This article may give you some advice.

MMF Can’t Reach the High Bandwidth-Distance Needs
MMF datacenterBased on fiber construction MMF has different classifications types that are used to determine what optical signal rates are supported over what distances. Many data center operators who deployed MMF OM1/OM2 fiber a few years ago are now realizing that the older MMF does not support higher transmit rates like 40GbE and 100GbE. As a result, some MMF users have been forced to add later-generation OM3 and OM4 fiber to support standards-based 40GbE and 100GbE interfaces. However, MMF’s physical limitations mean that as data traffic grows and interconnectivity speeds increase, the distance between connections must decrease. The only alternative in an MMF world is to deploy more fibers in parallel to support more traffic. Therefore, while MMF cabling has been widely and successfully deployed for generations, its limitations now become even more serious. Operators must weigh unexpected cabling costs against a network incapable of supporting new services.

SMF Maybe a Viable Alternative
Previously, organizations were reluctant to implement SMF inside the data center due to the cost of the pluggable optics required, especially compared to MMF. However, newer silicon technologies and manufacturing innovations are driving down the cost of SMF pluggable optics. Transceivers with Fabry-Perot edge emitting lasers (single-mode) are now comparable in price and power dissipation to VCSEL (multimode) transceivers. Besides, Where MMF cable plants introduce a capacity-reach tradeoff, SMF eliminates network bandwidth constraints. This allows operators to take advantage of higher-bit-rate interfaces and wave division multiplexing (WDM) technology to increase by three orders of magnitude the amount of traffic that the fiber plant can support over longer distances. All these factors make SMF a more viable option for high-speed deployments in data centers.

SMF datacenter

Comparison Between SMF and MMF
10GbE has become the predominant interconnectivity interface in large data centers, with 40GbE and 100GbE playing roles in some high-bandwidth applications. Put simply, the necessity for fiber cabling that supports higher bit rates over extended distances is here today. With that in mind, the most significant difference between SMF and MMF is that SMF provides a higher spectral efficiency than MMF, which means it supports more traffic over a single fiber using more channels at higher speeds. This is in stark contrast to MMF, where cabling support for higher bit rates is limited by its large core size. This effectively limits the distance higher speed signals can travel over MMF fiber. In fact, in most cases, currently deployed MMF cabling is unable to support higher speeds over the same distance as lower-speed signals.

Name Interface FP (SMF) VCSEL (MMF)
Link Budget (dB)
4 to 6 2
Reach (in meters) (Higher value is better)
10GbE 1300 300
40GbE 1300 150
100GbE 1300 <100

As operators consider their cabling options, the tradeoff between capacity and reach is important. Network operators must assess the extent to which they believe their data centers are going to grow. For environments where users, applications, and corresponding workload are all increasing, single-mode fiber offers the best future proofing for performance and scalability. And because of fundamental changes in how transceivers are manufactured, those benefits can be attained at prices comparable to SMF’s lower performing alternative.