SFP vs SFP+ vs QSFP+, what is the difference?

In the world of optical communications, several types of transceiver modules are widely used for different applications. Among them, SFP, SFP+, and QSFP+ are the most common. In this blog post, we will discuss the main differences between these transceiver modules and help you understand their applications better. Let’s dive in!

What is an SFP optic module?

SFP, or Small Form-factor Pluggable, is a compact, hot-pluggable transceiver module used for both telecommunication and data communications applications. It converts electrical signals to optical signals and vice versa, allowing devices such as switches, routers, and servers to connect to fiber optic or copper networking cables. SFP modules are designed to support a variety of data rates and protocols, including Gigabit Ethernet, Fibre Channel, and SONET.

SFP and SFP+, big upgrade

As data transmission demands increased, the need for higher capacity transceivers became evident. SFP+ (Small Form-factor Pluggable Plus) is an upgraded version of the SFP module, offering a significant improvement in data rate capability. While SFP supports data rates up to 4.25 Gbps, SFP+ can handle speeds up to 10 Gbps. This increase in performance makes SFP+ a popular choice for 10 Gigabit Ethernet and 8G Fibre Channel applications.

What is QSFP? QSFP+ transceiver overview

QSFP (Quad Small Form-factor Pluggable) is a high-density, high-performance optical transceiver module that can support data rates of up to 40 Gbps. QSFP+ is an enhanced version of QSFP, providing even higher data rates, up to 100 Gbps. These transceivers are primarily used in high-speed data center and telecommunications applications, where their high data rates and compact size make them an ideal solution.

QSFP+ transceiver

SFP+ vs QSFP+, Parameter comparison

To better understand the differences between SFP+ and QSFP+, let’s compare their key parameters:

Data RateUp to 10 Gbps    Up to 40 Gbps
Transmission DistanceUp to 80 km (depending on the module type)Up to 40 km (depending on the module type)
Form FactorSmaller, single-channelLarger, 4-channel
Connector TypeLC or SCMPO or MTP or LC
Applications10 Gigabit Ethernet, 8G Fibre Channel40G Ethernet, InfiniBand, 100G Ethernet

From the table above, we can see that QSFP+ modules offer significantly higher data rates than SFP+ modules, making them suitable for more demanding applications such as 40G Ethernet and 100G Ethernet. However, SFP+ modules are smaller and more versatile, making them a popular choice for lower-speed applications.

40G to 10G, what is it?

The transition from 10G to 40G networks is becoming increasingly common as businesses look for ways to enhance their network infrastructure and meet the growing demands of data centers and telecommunications. One popular way to achieve this is by using a 40G to 4x10G connection, which allows for seamless integration between access and aggregation layers in the network.

Using a QSFP-40G-SR4 transceiver at the aggregation layer and SFP-10G-SR transceivers at the access layer is a widely adopted method for this type of connection. The QSFP-40G-SR4 module supports 40G data rates and has an MPO/MTP connector, while the SFP-10G-SR module supports 10G data rates and uses an LC connector. To establish the connection, a breakout cable (also known as a fan-out or harness cable) is used, which has one MPO/MTP connector on one end and four LC connectors on the other end.

This configuration enables the QSFP-40G-SR4 module to transmit data to four separate SFP-10G-SR modules simultaneously, essentially breaking down the 40G link into four individual 10G links. This approach is particularly useful when you need to connect access layer devices with lower-speed requirements to high-speed aggregation switches, ensuring smooth data transmission and efficient use of resources.


In conclusion, SFP, SFP+, and QSFP+ are all essential optical transceiver modules that serve different applications based on their capabilities. SFP is widely used for Gigabit Ethernet, while SFP+ is ideal for 10 Gigabit Ethernet and 8G Fibre Channel applications. On the other hand, QSFP+ is perfect for high-speed data center and telecommunications applications that demand high data rates and high-density solutions.


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