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High-Speed Copper Transceivers Overview


The last few decades have seen the broad adoption of fiber optic transceivers used in optical communications for both telecommunication and data communications applications. However, would the copper connectivity withdraw from the market? Copper medium usually doesn’t require any transceivers, as they are part of the interface module. However, in order to cut down expenditures, some vendors use SFP copper transceiver with an RJ-45 female connector for Gigabit Ethernet connectivity over copper medium, or XFP copper transceiver for 10Gigabit Ethernet (10GbE) connectivity over CX4 copper. This article will give you a complete guide to these copper transceivers.

Supporting 10/100/1000 Mbps data-rate in excess of 100 meters (325 feet) reach over UTP Category5/5e cables, copper transceiver module is ideally suited for implementing small form-factor Network Interface Cards (NICs) and uplinks. As such, it is highly appropriate for use in high-density applications such as LAN 1000BASE-T, switch-to-switch interfaces, switched backplanes, blade servers, gaming devices, and router/server interfaces.

With the development of 1000BASE-T technology, 1000BASE-T and 100BASE-TX copper SFP transceiver over Category 5 copper cabling is an attractive option for network. The advantages are listed as follows:

  • For 100m reach over Cat 5 UTP cable
  • Hot-pluggable SFP footprint
  • Supports RX_LOS as link indication function
  • Fully metallic enclosure for low EMI
  • Low power dissipation (1.05 W typical)
  • Compact RJ-45 connector assembly
  • Compliant with SFP MSA and IEEE Std 802.3-2002

As a kind of copper XFP transceiver, the XFP 10GBASE-CX4 module uses a CX4 connector to provide a connection to up to 15 meters over CX4 grade copper cable. Transparently to the user, the module transfers the 10GbE data stream over four full-duplex 3.125 Gbps channels over a single parallel copper cable. The product offers the ability to scale bandwidth in 10G increments, and directly with the industry standard MDI electrical socket.


CX4 is an extension of the four-channel 10 Gbps XAUI interface and is available in 70-pin MSA transponder modules, otherwise known as Xenpak, XPAK and X2. The 10GBASE-CX4 solution employs an Infiniband-style Twin-AX cable (click to see the Cisco 10G twinax). In this case, eight 100-ohm differential Twin-AX cables are bundled into a single outer shield. The center conductors are 24 AWG wire for compatibility with printed circuit board termination inside the connector housing. The limitation of the 10GBASE-CX4 solution is that it requires a 70-pin MSA socket and only supports the IEEE802.3ae 10GE data format.

The XFP format also offers the distinct feature of being data agnostic, which opens the market for the copper based solution to telecommunications applications as well. The 10 Gbps serial solution over copper adds the final link option to the XFP industry, offering everything from the ultra low-cost sub-20m 10 Gbps shelf-to-shelf and rack-to-rack links to 80 km or longer optical links.

Among the above-mentioned copper transceivers, what must be noticed is that copper SFP transceiver offers a flexible and simple method to be installed into SFP MSA compliant ports at any time with no interruption of the host equipment operation. It enables for seamless integration of fiber with copper LAN connections wherever SFP interface slots can be found. Such system is economical, it saves time, offers flexibility and eliminates the necessity for replacing entire devices once the customers have to change or upgrade fiber connections and you will benefit so much from it.


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