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Seamless Migration to 40G in the Data Center

How you can transform your data center into a 40Gbps powerhouse?

Data requirements are increasing all the time — an upswing in connected devices, strong consumer demand, web and cloud applications, and greater throughput due to multimedia and streaming are having a big impact. As a data center operator, you know that your datacenter needs to increase its capacity and pipeline to stay effective.

One way to meet your current and future data needs is to upgrade your network at the aggregate layer from 10 to 40Gbps. This increase in capacity will enhance data transfer and communications both between users and devices, and between the machines themselves — vital for cloud-based integration and the transmission and reception of data.

There are several types of transceivers that can operate at 40Gbps, but most of them are designed for longer-distance telecommunications needs — not ideal for the more confined spaces of the average datacenter. For data centers, there are two good options:

  • 40GBASE SR4 QSFP+ Transceiver.
  • 40GBASE QSFP+ BiDi Transceiver.

We’ll explain the difference between these two solutions and help you to make an informed decision on the best way to upgrade your datacenter.

40GBASE SR4 QSFP+ — Flexibility and Throughput

The 40GBASE SR4 QSFP+ transceiver is an excellent option for datacenters that want to upgrade, and who have the cabling to support the device. These modules achieve 40Gbps speeds through:

  • Making use of the Quad SFP+ form factor.
  • Using four synchronized connections of 10Gbps each to achieve 40Gbps.
  • Taking advantage of an eight fibre strands (four in each direction) connection for full duplex speeds.

The 40GBASE SR4 QSFP+ is designed for flexibility — the four distinct channels can easily be separated into four x 10GBASE SR4 SFP+, adding great flexibility and scalability to your network.

Challenges with the 40GBASE SR4 QSFP+ Transceiver

This transceiver provides best-in-class reliability for 40Gbps connections, but there are challenges. It relies on MPO/MTP connectors, using a ribbon with 12 strands of fiber. Since the duplex connection of this transceiver only uses eight strands, four will be unused. Wasting fiber is not ideal, and can grow your operational costs. However, there’s another issue — the 40GBASE SR4 QSFP+ is not backwards compatible with existing infrastructure. The MPO/MTP connectors do not work with the LC connectors commonly used in datacenters. If you have older cabling, you will be forced to overhaul their cabling infrastructure to use this transceiver — considerably increasing costs, possibly beyond what your stakeholders are willing to commit.

40GBASE SR BiDi QSFP+ — Lower Costs and Greater Compatibility

The compatibility issues of the 40GBASE SR4 QSFP+ helped to drive the development of the 40GBASE SR BiDi QSFP+ transceiver. A clever use of electrical multiplexing means that four channels of 10Gbps can be combined and transferred bi-directionally over two strands of multimode fiber on this device. This means only two strands of fiber are needed for a full duplex 40Gbps connection.

These transceiver modules are also fully-compatible with LC connectors. Datacenters can use their existing cable infrastructure, making the upgrade from 10 to 40 Gbps much more affordable. This solution considerably lowers the expenditure needed for a 40Gbps network enhancement and is a game changer for datacenters that need to meet new demands and challenges. However, due to the way these devices are configured, the 40Gbps connection cannot be split into individual channels.

Which Transceiver Should You Choose?

Both transceivers allow you to upgrade your datacenter to a 40Gbps connection.

  • The 40GBASE SR4 QSFP+ is the best solution for datacenter owners who are willing to upgrade their cabling system to MTP/MPO and who value the flexibility of separating their connections into individual 10Gbps channels.
  • The 40GBASE BiDi QSFP+ makes 40Gbps technology much more accessible by allowing datacenters to use existing cabling, while sacrificing some flexibility and scalability.

Here at LambdaGain™, we’re experts at sourcing, designing, managing, and supporting every part of your telecommunications or datacenter network. If you have any questions about the right transceiver for your datacenter needs, please get in touch.


Technology Evangelist