Leading Communications Companies Release the QSFP Specification:   The Industry's Highest Density Pluggable Optical Module

Highest Density Quad Small Form-factor Pluggable (QSFP) optical module complements industry standard SFP optical module for Telecommunications and Data Communications Equipment.

August 2, 2006 – Several industry leading communications companies today announced the release of a Quad (4-channel) Small Form-factor Pluggable (QSFP) optical module specification draft for public review. The group has developed a common specification for multi-sourcing, application-agnostic, highest density, pluggable optical modules. These modules optimize real-estate, power, and port density requirements in networking equipment while keeping synergy and compatibility to installed optical module interconnect infrastructure.

Current members of the QSFP MSA group include the following companies:

  • Avago
  • Molex
  • Beam Express
  • OCP, Inc.
  • Emcore
  • Opnext, Inc.
  • Emulex
  • QLogic
  • Fiberxon
  • Picolight, Inc.
  • Finisar
  • Reflex Photonics
  • Force10
  • The Siemon Co.
  • Helix AG
  • Tyco Electronics
  • JDSU
  • Xloom Communications
  • McDATA
  • Zarlink Semiconductor
  • Merge Optics


The QSFP Specification defines a highly integrated 4-channel optical transceiver to replace four standard SFP transceiver modules providing increased port density and total system cost saving. The device will support Ethernet, Fibre Channel, InfiniBand and SONET/SDH standards with different data rate options. 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 diagnostic capability to monitor the link performance. The module is designed to enable extremely high-density applications with stacked and ganged configurations. This highly integrated transceiver module will enable network equipment manufacturers to increase port density and system data throughput and consequently reduce costs per Gigabit per second.

With a port density of three times higher than traditional SFP transceivers, the QSFP can be used to replace four standard SFP modules in space that is only 30 percent larger than a single SFP; The QSFP requires approximately the same front-panel space of an XFP module. Due to the increased capabilities, over 3X (3.11) times more transceivers can be placed in a given area on a switch or product. The QSFP's unique design repackages the existing SFP transceiver in a way which utilizes a 12-fiber ribbon instead of individual fibers.

Additionally the QSFP design supports Ethernet, Fibre Channel, Infiniband and SDH/SONET with data rates up to 5Gb/s per channel. The QSFP platform demonstrates potential for aggregated higher volumes and improved economics realized from several protocols/applications using the same transceiver. The QSFP MSA is the world's first Z-pluggable parallel optical transceiver and has multi-vendor support offering potential customers a variety of purchasing options.

The QSFP group brings together leading networking, system, optical module, semiconductor and connector companies from both the telecommunications and data communications markets. In addition, the inherent 4+4 channel architecture of QSFP lends itself to increase distances supported by multi-lane serial I/O electrical interconnects like PCI Express (PCIe) and Infiniband.

Benefits of QSFP

  • Port Density nearly 3x higher than SFP module; Uses approximately same front panel space as XFP module
  • Support of Ethernet, Fibre Channel, Infiniband and SDH/SONET with data rates up to 5 Gb/s
  • Transceiver Package and Electrical/Optical Connectors derived from designs currently in production
  • Industry first Z-pluggable parallel optics transceiver module with multi-vendor support

About the QSFP MSA:
The QSFP MSA welcomes feedback on the specification. Please provide feedback to members of the MSA. The specification and these members can be found at www.qsfpmsa.org.

Legal Disclaimers….
This release may contain forward-looking statements based on our current expectations,
estimates and projections about our industry and certain assumptions made by us. Words such as "anticipates," "expects," "intends," "plans," "believes," "seeks, "estimates," "may," "will" and variations of these words or similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements. In addition, any statements that refer to expectations, projections or other characterizations of future events or circumstances, including any underlying assumptions, are forward-looking statements. These statements speak only as of the date hereof, and are based upon the information available to us at this time. Such information is subject to change, and we will not necessarily inform you of such changes. These statements are not guarantees of future performance and are subject to risks, uncertainties and assumptions that are difficult to predict. Therefore, our actual results could differ materially and adversely from those expressed in any forwardlooking
statements as a result of various factors.

All trademarks mentioned in this release are properties of their respective owners.

Individual MSA members can be contacted directly by visiting the QSFP MSA website at






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Reflex Photonics Inc. is a privately held corporation founded in 2002 that is focused on delivering high performance interconnects for next generation optical and semiconductor connectivity solutions.