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Choice of Bidirectional Transceivers for 40 GbE

As a result of data center consolidation, server virtualization, and new applications that require higher data transport rates, 10Gbps infrastructure is becoming overwhelmed by today’s data center requirements, making the shift to 40 and 100 Gbps inevitable, especially in the network aggregation layer and core. How to upgrade the cabling infrastructure and migrate to the 40Gbps era in a cost-effective way? Cisco 40G QSFP (quad small form-factor pluggable) bidirectional (BiDi) technology provides a feasible and effective method, which will be introduced in the following text.

What Is 40G QSFP BiDi Transceiver?

Cisco’s innovative 40 Gbps QSFP BiDi transceiver is a pluggable optical transceiver with a duplex LC connector interface for short-reach data communication and interconnect applications. The Cisco BiDi transceiver supports link lengths of 100m and 150m on laser-optimized OM3 and OM4 multimode fibers. It complies with the QSFP MSA specification, enabling customers to use it on all QSFP 40 Gbps platforms to achieve high-density 40 Gigabit Ethernet networks.

How Does 40G QSFP BiDi Transceiver Work?

Cisco QSFP BiDi transceiver technology converts four channels each of 10Gbps transmit and receive signals to two bidirectional channels of 20Gbps signals, which means that the Cisco QSFP BiDi transceiver has two 20Gbps channels, each transmitted and received simultaneously over two wavelengths on a single MMF strand. The technology uses specialized, multilayer, thin-film dielectric coating and lensing, which allows components to both pass and reflect optical signals at the same time. And it uses Bidirectional Optical Sub-Assembly (BOSA) technology to support two wavelengths (20 Gbps total) on each fiber. The connection can reach 100 meters on OM3 MMF or 150 meters on OM4 MMF, which is the same as 40Gbps SR4. Picture below shows the technology concept of the Cisco QSFP BiDi transceiver.

Concept of Cisco QSFP BiDi Transceiver

Why Choose 40Gbps QSFP BiDi Transceiver?

The Cisco QSFP BiDi transceiver transmits full-duplex 40Gbps traffic over one dual-fiber LC connector OM3 or OM4 MMF cable. It provides the capability to reuse 10Gbps fiber infrastructure. In other words, it enables data center operators to upgrade to 40Gbps connectivity without making great changes to the previous 10Gbps fiber cable plant. By using the existing 10 Gigabit Ethernet duplex multi-mode fiber (MMF) infrastructure for 40 Gigabit Ethernet, the Cisco BiDi transceiver offers significant cost savings and simplifies data center upgrading. It allows for zero-cost fiber migration by reusing the current 10Gbps cabling for 40Gbps device connectivity. 40Gbps QSFP BiDi transceiver reduces overall costs and installation time for customers migrating data center aggregation links to 40Gbps connections. Using Cisco BiDi transceivers offers 75% less fiber and MPO requirements, reduced cable sprawl and rack footprints, and investment protection with future support for 100 Gbps over duplex fiber.


Cisco 40G QSFP BiDi technology removes 40Gbps cabling cost barriers for migration from 10Gbps to 40Gbps connectivity in data center networks. It is quite a competitive option among all those various choices for 40 Gigabit Ethernet applications, such as QSFP+ transceiver, QSFP+ breakout cable or active optical cable. Compared with them, Cisco 40G QSFP BiDi transceivers provide simpler and less expensive 40Gbps connectivity compared to other 40Gbps transceiver solutions. Anyway, you choose the most appropriate one for your applications.

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