What is a transceiver? How to choose a transceiver?
In the simplest terms, a network transceiver is a dual device that transmits and receives information (data packets). Since networks and network devices evolve constantly, a transceiver can be of different types. A network transceiver can be incorporated into a server computer, usual personal computer, or switch. The other option is to use an external (read modular) transceiver that you can connect and disconnect at any time. If you are looking for a transceiver, then you most certainly need the modular one.
As for the “How to choose a transceiver?” question, read below the specifications’ list to which you should pay the most attention:
|Transceiver Feature||Possible Values|
|Supported protocol||10BASE-T Ethernet; 10BASE-2 Ethernet; 10/100 Ethernet; Fast or Gigabit Ethernet; FDDI; PROFIBUS|
|Number of Ports||From 1, 2, 3, 4, and more|
|Type of Ports||AUI; RJ-45; Serial, BNC, etc|
|Wireless Connections||Supported or non-supported|
|RoHS||Supported or non-supported|
|Power-over-Ethernet or PoE||Supported or non-supported the capacity to receive data and power by the same cable|
More information on the transceiver characteristics, supported cables, and similar can be found here – Network Transceivers Specifications.
Your first preference should be an SFP transceiver module. This means that the device is hot-pluggable – you do not have to turn off the network to replace the device. Secondly, an SFP or SFP+ transceiver is a better solution since it supports high data exchange rates (16Gbit/s). The modern SFP+ transceivers can work with Fiber Channel, Gigabit Ethernet, and Optical Transport Network types of connection. Another great characteristic of such transceivers is their power consumption. As we will see further, SFP+ almost do not consume electricity.
You may already know that Cisco is one of the top companies that works in the field of networking. Whence, Cisco transceiver modules exist in a great variety of models. The company separates groups of transceivers according to the type of protocol and data exchange speed. The entire selection of Cisco transceiver is as follows:
- 10 Gigabit transceivers;
- 40 Gigabit transceivers;
- 100 Gigabit transceivers;
- CWDM transceivers;
- DWDM transceivers;
- Fast-Ethernet SFP transceivers;
- Gigabit Ethernet GBIC/SFP transceivers;
- SONET/SDH SFP transceivers.
Let’s learn more about Cisco transceivers on an example. The Cisco GLC-FE-100LX-RGD is a small form-factor pluggable transceiver with a Fast Ethernet interface. There is another modification that uses Gigabit Ethernet (GE) instead FE. This models just like any other Cisco SFPs, uses an ID feature, created by Cisco to let the router/switch to recognize the SFP as supported or not. The device offers a wide operating temps range. In case of an industrial installation, the device will be able to operate normally within the -40…+85°C range. We mentioned the low power consumption before, and now we can be more specific: this Cisco transceiver will spend 1W only per single port. Other Cisco SFP modules can eat up to 1.7W per single port.
Main features of the Cisco GLC-FE-100LX-RGD:
- Support for Fast Ethernet and dual rate Fast or Gigabit Ethernet ports;
- Can be replaced with any other 100BASE-X SFP modules;
- Can operate with other 100BASE-X Ethernet interfaces on a mutual link;
- Support for dual LC connectors;
- Produced wave length – 1310nm;
- Support for SMF (fiber type);
- Support for 10km cable length.
This SFP transceiver module have many other specifications, but we think that would be enough. However, it is worth mentioning some industrial standards that Cisco applies to the SFP transceivers when producing them. The last three in the list relate to the generic requirements for optical fiber cables, single-mode and multi-fiber optical connectors, and jumper assemblies.
- IEEE 802.3u/z/ah;
- RoHS 5;
HP doesn’t trail far behind Cisco in terms of transceiver module types. This company has a great set of modern enhanced small form-factor pluggable modules. The ones that come into the view are the HP Fiber Channel SFP+ transceivers that couple two technologies for communication – Fiber Channel and Ethernet – in a single device. The HP 16Gb FC/10GbE SFP+ transceiver module presents the next list of specifications:
- Support for 4Gb FC, 8Gb FC, and 16Gb FC;
- Support for 10Gb over Ethernet connection;
- Support for 100 meters high-bandwidth fibres;
- Support for hot swapping;
- Two-way LC connector;
- Standard digital diagnostic functions;
- Compliant with RoHS;
- 3.3V PSU.
Let’s comment on those features. Hewlett-Packard tells that the power supply unit offers voltage between 3.15 and 3.45V. So, this is not exactly 3.3V. Similarly to Cisco SFP+ transceivers, this one from HP consumes the same 1W per single module. The device will be able to work normally if the environment temperature is no lower then 0 degrees Celsius or no higher than +70°C. The wave length lays in-between 840 and 860nm values. At last, the cable used for this HP SFP+ is MMF, which stands for multi-mode optical fiber. Overall, such a transceiver module from HP is great when your network is based on Fiber Optic and Ethernet simultaneously. It will be much easier to deploy the network without the need to rebuild it.
There is pretty much similar SFP+ from HP, namely the SFP+ 455883-B21-C. This one is featured with 10 Gigabit Ethernet only. It can use one of two types of cables – 10GBase-SR and 10GBase-SW. The maximal data transfer speed reaches 10.5Gbps. This is a single-mode fiber type. Consequently, the supported cable length is extended up to 300 meters. If you need an HP transceiver that supports maximal transfer distances up to 10km, then an HP 455886-B21-C with 10 Gigabit Ethernet will fill the gap. As you can see, HP has many transceivers to offer. You only need to pick a necessary one.
We want to set off by presenting the Dell SFP 1000BASE-SX networking transceiver, which is one of the most famous Dell products in this field. This transceiver is capable of providing up to 1 Gigabit Ethernet connectivity. It’s slow, but this is an SFP module. The cable length for such a device can be 550m or 220m depending on the fiber type used. Mostly, we liked its extended operating temps range. The device will operate ordinarily if the temps are around -10°C and +85°C. These figures are pretty much exceptional for transceiver modules. Last but not the least, the device is designed for use with Dell PowerConnect 8100 Series or PowerEdge FX12 systems. Well, let’s better pay attention to a more advanced Dell SFP+ 10 Gigabit Ethernet SR module. This one is more up to date, so let’s get to its features:
- Support for the LC multi-mode cable;
- Support for 10GBase-SR cabling type;
- Maximal output – 10 Gbps;
- 850nm wave;
- Maximal transfer distance is up to 400 meter;
- Support for OM2 and OM3 multi-mode fiber (for different distances);
- Support for 17 PowerConnect systems.
Other than ordinary SFP and SFP+ modules, Dell offers CWDM variations. These are network transceivers that can receive and send data in both directions on a single wire thanks to the use of waves with different lengths. For instance, the Dell SFP+ 10GbE and 10Gb Fibre Channel transceivers are presented in various modifications. Learn the next list of such transceiver features to come to terms with it:
- Model – GP-10-GSFP-1Z-1470-C;
- LC single mode cable;
- Support for three cabling types, including Fiber Channel, 10GBase-ZR, and CWDM;
- Maximal data exchange rate is 11Gbps;
- The wave length is 1470nm;
- Support for two protocols – 10GbE and 10Gb FC;
- Support for RoHS, Laser class 1, EN60825-1;
- Operating temps range is between 0 and 70°C;
- Maximal transfer distance is up to 80km.
The last feature of this network transceiver is pretty astonishing. Overall, Dell transceivers are equally advanced and quality devices as Cisco and HP ones. The only difference between them is the network system with which you should use an appropriate transceiver.