Thursday, October 15, 2015

HP Is Shipping Unicorns Now: 10GBASE-T SFP+ Module

It's long been said that we'll never see an SFP+ transceiver for 10GBASE-T media. Too much power, too small package, too much heat, etc...

I'm not sure that never is quite right. There's this wonderful/horrible contraption:
Dawnray SFP+ module. Photo found here.
It's huge. It's ugly. Its covered with fins, so it must be hot. The data sheet says it consumes 7 Watts. Where's it getting 7W? Not from the SFP+ interface on the switch... Note the power cord attached to the module. It uses a wall wart!

This is not an elegant solution, but 10GBASE-T is hard, and this is the best we've got.

Until now.

/u/asdlkf recently pointed out on reddit that HP have published a data sheet1 for a much more elegant SFP+ module for 10GBASE-T.

There were rumors that this module was going to have a giant heatsink and protrude far beyond the SFP+ slot, but it turns out that's not the case. It looks really good, and it's only a bit longer than some 1000BASE-T modules that I have kicking around the office.

The module uses only 2.3W (no wall wart required, but plugging in lots of them will still tax most switches), but is a bit of a compromise in that it can only push 10GBASE-T 30m (the standard calls for 100m).

I'm not advocating for 10GBASE-T (I suspect Ferro would never speak to me again!) I'd rather use DAC or DAO transceivers for intra-rack links and optical transceivers inter-rack because they're better than 10GBASE-T in so many ways:
  • Lower power
  • Lower latency
  • Lower bit error rate
  • Smaller cable diameter
  • Lower in-rack cost
  • Longer inter-rack runs
But I'm sure this nifty transceiver will solve some problems. Congratulations HP, for being first to market with a usable option.

1 HP's data sheet also has a funny typo in the Environment section. I may have to wait for global warming to melt the polar ice caps, raising sea level a bit before I can deploy one of these units.

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