XFP Transceiver Overview

Defined by an industry group in 2002, XFP is a standard for transceivers used in high-speed computer network and telecommunication links that employ optical fiber. XFP transceivers are hot-swappable transceivers designed for 10G network applications such as 10 Gigabit Ethernet, 10 Gbit/s Fibre Channel, synchronous optical networking (SONET) at OC-192 rates and so on. The followings are a few highlights that customers should know about XFP transceivers if they are in the market for them.

Specification of XFP Transceiver

Developed by the XFP multi-source agreement (MSA) group, the specification of XFP transceiver is an informal agreement of an industry group. In other words, it is recognized by many designers in the industry rather than “officially” endorsed by a standards body. There have been many updates to this specification since it was first introduced in 2002.

Interface of XFP Transceiver

XFP transceiver’s interface to other electrical components is often called XFI. Developed also by the XFP MSA group, the XFI electrical interface specification is a 10 Gbit/s chip-to-chip electrical interface specification defined as part of the XFP MSA.

Wavelengths of XFP Transceiver

XFP transceivers can operate at a variety of wavelengths including 850 nm, 1310 nm, and 1550 nm, etc. And at these near-infrared wavelengths, signals can be transmitted with high integrity and at longer distances. In addition, these transceivers also operate over a single wavelength and use dense wavelength multiplexing techniques.

Types of XFP Transceiver

XFP is available with a variety of transmitter and receiver types, and there are four main types XFP transceivers, which allows customers to select the type of XFP transceiver they need in their design. The most commonly used types of XFP transceivers are 10GBASE-SR XFP transceivers which have a wavelength of 850 nm and a maximum transmission distance of 300 m, and 10GBASE-LR XFP transceivers that have a wavelength of 1310 nm and a transmission distance up to 10 km. Both 10GBASE-ER XFP transceivers and 10GBASE-ZR XFP transceivers utilize 1550nm range, but they transmit different lengths of up to 40 km and up to 80 km respectively.

Size of XFP Transceiver

XFP transceivers are larger than SFP+ transceivers (as shown in the following figure), but they are by far among the smaller 10 Gbit/s interfaces suitable for dense wavelength division multiplexing (DWDM) transmission. Furthermore, several optical systems adopt XFP transceivers even when requiring long-haul transmission.


In conclusion, XFP transceivers are flexible and can offer customers a variety of options in terms of design. It is appreciated by customers who are searching for compact devices with flexibility and power. Nowadays, there are various kinds of XFP transceivers in the market. Among them, Cisco XFP transceivers are one of the best-selling XFP transceivers.