Tutorial: Identifying SFP and SFP+ Modules

Technology inevitably progresses, sometimes in huge leaps, sometimes in smaller, yet still significant steps. The ten-fold increase in data rates realised by 10G networks may seem like a huge leap – in fact it is – but the hardware powering this shift didn’t have a face lift. Compared to the difference in products used to power 40G and 100G networks, which have vastly different designs and footprints compared to their elders, SFP and SFP+ modules are virtually identical.

This of course has the benefit of backwards compatibility thanks to a shared footprint. In the majority of cases, you can plug a Gigabit SFP module into a 10G SFP+ device and have it ‘fall-back’ to Gigabit. Especially useful when devices in the comms room are mid-refresh and you are supporting a mix of speeds. What it does mean though is you need to take a good hard look at a module before plugging it in. Figuring out why a link isn’t working at the speed expected, or even at all generally isn’t too difficult – but explaining to the boss why you had unexpected downtime could be!



So let’s take a look at some Advance modules and let me show you how to quickly identify between SFP and SFP+ modules. Firstly notice on the Gigabit SFP module (top) the housing is squared off at the rear of the module. On the 10G SFP+ (bottom), looking at the same surface, you can see the metal work is bevelled.



The latch is the next easily identified difference. Gigabit SFP modules (right) have a metal wire latch with a coloured plastic barrel on the top, whereas 10G SFP+ modules (left) have a solid metal latch with a coloured insert in the top.

There are some other obvious differences between these two sample modules – for example the metal-work of the body of the module where it latches into the switch among others, but these can vary between specific module types so are not a fool proof way to discern between modules.

Of course the last, and most unquestionable way of telling the difference between Gigabit and 10G modules is the label printing – our 10G modules will always say “10G SFP+” on them!

Advance SFP and SFP+ modules all come with a lifetime warranty as standard and are coded and tested in our UK facility to guarantee vendor compatibility. Contact us today and see how much you can save by advancing your network!