MSA group targets high-speed and high-density interfaces

17th January 2018
Alice Matthews

The Small Form Factor Pluggable Double Density (SFP-DD) Multi Source Agreement (MSA) group have completed the initial hardware specification and drawings for the SFP-DD pluggable interface designed to enable high-speed, high-density networking equipment. Targeting support up to 3.5W optical modules in an enterprise environment, the SFP-DD form factor addresses the technical challenges of achieving a double-density interface and ensuring mechanical interoperability for module components produced by different manufacturers.

The SFP-DD electrical interface expands on the existing SFP pluggable form factor, a widely adopted interface used in data centres and other networking platforms. The SFP single lane interface operates up to 28Gbps NRZ or 56Gbps PAM-4. The new SFP-DD electrical interface is designed to support two lanes that operate up to 25Gbps NRZ or 56Gbps PAM-4 per lane, providing aggregate bandwidth of 50 or 112Gbps.

By doubling the lane density and data speed, the SFP-DD interface will help address demand for increased port density and scalability in next-gen applications, with a primary focus on the server-side interconnect. An SFP-DD server port along with QSFP-DD switch ports provides an overall doubling of the port density in network applications.

The SFP-DD hardware specification and drawings define key module, plug, and cage characteristics. SFP-DD modules and direct-attach cable plugs use a common mechanical outline. Modules and plugs provide a means to self-lock with the cage upon insertion. Network equipment based on the SFP-DD will support legacy SFP modules and cables, and new double density products, for optimal design flexibility.

SFP-DD Key features

  • A single port SMT connector and cage
  • Heat sink options for thermal management flexibility
  • Module mechanical definition
  • Support for optical and copper interfaces, with physical layer specifications to be determined outside the scope of the SFP-DD MSA

SFP-DD Key benefits

  • Support for up to 3.5W for optical modules
  • Enables two channels of high-speed electrical interfaces connecting to host
  • Backward compatibility to all current SFP style interfaces
  • Developed by industry consortium to enable multi-vendor interoperability

SFP-DD MSA founding members include Alibaba, Broadcom, Brocade, Cisco, Dell EMC, Finisar, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Huawei, Intel, Juniper Networks, Lumentum, Mellanox Technologies, Molex, and TE Connectivity.

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