Companies jointly announce QSFP MSA for high density pluggable optics

March 7, 2006
March 7, 2006 Anaheim, CA -- A group of telecom and datacom equipment companies have announced the release of the quad (4-channel) small form-factor pluggable (QSFP) optical module specification for final review. The group has been developing the agreement since 2004; a public draft of the specification is expected in May.

March 7, 2006 Anaheim, CA -- A group of telecom and datacom equipment companies have announced the release of the quad (4-channel) small form-factor pluggable (QSFP) optical module specification for final review. The group has been developing the agreement since 2004; a public draft of the specification is expected in May.

The group says the common specification targets multi-sourcing, application-agnostic, very high density pluggable optical modules designed to optimize real-estate, power, and port density requirements in networking equipment while maintaining synergy and compatibility with existing optical module interconnect infrastructure.

According to the group, QSFP MSA (Multi-Source Agreement) defines a highly integrated 4-channel optical transceiver which would replace four standard SFP transceiver modules, providing increased port density and total system cost savings. The device will support Ethernet, Fibre Channel, InfiniBand, and SONET/SDH standardswith different data rate options up to 4 Gbit/sec.

The QSFP MSA document specifies a transceiver module mechanical form-factor with latching mechanism, host board electrical edge connector, and cage. The hot-pluggable module integrates four transmit and four receive channels with a standard MPO parallel optical connector.

The QSFP device features digital optical diagnostic capability to monitor the link performance. The module is designed to enable extremely high-density applications with stacked and ganged configurations. The company says the highly integrated transceiver module will enable network equipment manufacturers to increase port density and system data throughput, consequently reducing costs per Gbit/sec.

Other benefits of the QSFP device, according to the group, include port density nearly 4x higher than SFP, and the use of transceiver packages and electrical/optical connectors derived from designs currently in production. In addition, the companies say the inherent 4+4 channel architecture of QSFP lends itself to increased distances supported by multi-lane serial I/O electrical interconnects such as PCI Express (PCIe).

"McDATA is excited about the density of the QSFP optical module for storage networking and rack mounted switches," comments Scott Kipp, chair and editor of the QSFP specification group. With up to 128 channels on a 1RU (1.75") rack mounted switch, the QSFP can lower the operating costs by reducing the size of data centers - especially in co-location facilities."

The QSFP group brings together networking, system, optical module, semiconductor, and connector companies from both the telecommunications and data communications markets. Member companies of the QSFP specification group include: Avago Technologies, Molex, Beam Express, OCP, Emcore, Opnext, Emulex, QLogic, Fiberxon, Picolight, Finisar, Primarion, Force10, Reflex Photonics, Helix AG, The Siemon Co., JDSU, Tyco Electronics, McDATA, Xloom Communications, Merge Optics, and Zarlink Semiconductor.