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How are SFP Modules used with Industrial Network Switches?

Aug 12, 2023

By Heather Hall | May 5, 2023

In reviewing today's industrial network switches, one of the features that stand out is built-in SFP slots accompanying the standard RJ45 ports. SFP is short for Small Form-factor Pluggable, and it's been an industry workhorse for nearly two decades.

As a standardized network interface, SFP technology enables switches with SFP module slots and ports to connect to network components, either optically or electrically, at distances up to 160 km (99.4 miles). This is done by simply inserting the correct SFP module (transceiver) into the switch's SFP port which, in turn, is connected to either an Ethernet or fiber optic cable. Connecting an industrial switch, server, industrial router, network card, or PC to the other end of the cable establishes the high-speed data communications connection.

SFP advantages

First introduced in 2001, SFP has basically replaced GBIC (Gigabit Interface Converter) since it is only half GBIC's size, allowing it to be used in very tight, dense spaces while providing faster, long-distance communication links between industrial switches, routers, and other networking devices and components. In modern networks, small form factors are a constant necessity.

Besides its size, another advantage is SFP's hot-swapability functionality module. This makes it easier for network administrators to build onto existing networks without the hassles of redesigning the entire copper cable infrastructure. Most SFPs also feature Digital Diagnostic Monitor (DDM/DOM) providing real-time monitoring of parameters such as voltage, temperature, power, and laser bias.

Yet another check in the plus column is that SFP allows users to link aggregate multiple SFP ports. By connecting a single fiber to multiple industrial switches, the result is more bandwidth, redundancy, and load balancing that ensures that if one link fails, it will immediately go on the secondary available link with higher speed and little to no packet loss. Just before you do, however, configure both industrial Ethernet switches for link aggregation, otherwise, you will cause a network loop.

The Antaira LMP-1002G-10G-SFP-24 industrial Gigabit PoE+ managed Ethernet switch is embedded with eight Ethernet ports that support IEEE 802.3af/at, and two dual-rate SFP+ slots for up to 10 Gigabit fiber connections.

How to select an SFP transceiver

Deploying SFP links on your network goes far beyond inserting a single fiber transceiver into the Ethernet switch port. To optimize network performance, you’ll need to specify the right single-mode fiber transceiver type for your industrial switch application. Although there are many types of SFP modules on the market, the list can be narrowed down to five form factors: SFP, SFP+, SFP28, QSFP+, and QSFP28. But before we address those, let's look at some basic information you’ll need to know before you buy.

Types of SFP Modules

Now let's look at the five SFP types we mentioned before. These categories may look overwhelming, and this is not even an exhaustive list. However, the good news is that plenty of options are available for you depending on your distance, environmental, and speed requirements.

As an industrial networking company, Antaira eliminates much of the guesswork of using SFP modules and transceivers to optimize your networks. Antaira's managed and unmanaged SFP module-enabled network switches, combined with its SFP modules and cables, give you a competitive edge while ensuring reliable performance in adverse industrial and environmental conditions. For instance, the XFP module line of 10G optical transceivers is fully compliant with 802.3ae standards, making them suitable for SONET OC-192, SDH STM-64, 10 Gbit/s Optical Transport Network (OTN) OTU-2, and parallel optics links.

Also, Antaira gives you the choice of 46 different SFP modules and various types of SFP+ transceivers to match your precise network requirements, with many Antaira models compatible with HP, Cisco, Dell, Brocade, Juniper, and of course, Antaira's own line of industrial Ethernet switches.

The Antaira technical team is here to guide you through the selection process to get the appropriate transceiver or SFP module.


SFP advantages How to select an SFP transceiver Types of SFP Modules Antaira