Written by Kaushik Mittra, Product Manager, Transceiver Modules Group, Cisco

Cisco sells the highest quantity of optical transceivers in the world. Through a combination of internal development and OEM and JDM engagements with suppliers, Cisco has developed an extensive portfolio of transceivers that has shipped to thousands of customers.

The value proposition of this optics portfolio is best viewed through several interrelated aspects – the breadth of product portfolio, stringent qualification requirements on Cisco platforms, and assurance of robust supply continuity along with worldwide logistics and distribution.

This first blog in a three-part series reviews the variety of Cisco platforms and the ease of deployment that comes with deploying Cisco optics. Additionally, the Cisco Transceiver Compatibility Matrix simplifies the network architect’s job of selecting transceivers to connect Cisco host platforms to each other.

Cisco Platforms for End-To-End Network Connectivity

Cisco offers the most comprehensive set of platforms of any NEM (Network Equipment Manufacturer). These solutions address a variety of applications and markets such as IoT (Internet of Things), Service Provider, Campus Enterprise, and Datacenter segments. In addition to platform hardware and software, Cisco provides optical transceivers to connect the different switches and routers in these networks. The following table samples the variety of Cisco platforms along with their application.

To connect all these devices at various places in the network, Cisco has developed an extensive portfolio of transceivers that spans multiple Form Factors, Reaches, and Speeds.

Transceiver options for all of Cisco Platforms

Cisco provides a comprehensive portfolio of pluggable transceivers to cover the entire range of applications for IoT, Service Provider, Campus-Enterprise, and Datacenter segments. These include pluggable optics for multi-mode fiber and single-mode fiber, and cables at various data rates and distances. In addition to optical transceivers that comply to IEEE standards and/or MSAs (Multi-Source Agreement), Cisco innovation is built into transceivers with proprietary optical specifications that give customers flexibility in their operations. For example, Cisco QSFP BiDi (Bi-Directional) and SFP and QSFP CSR (Cisco Short Reach) allow customers to migrate to higher data rates while reusing their existing fiber infrastructure without modification.

The Table below provides a high-level overview of the product portfolio highlighting the standards, form factors, and platforms supported.

Table 1. Transceivers for multiple platforms and places in the network

Detailed information on the entire transceiver product portfolio is available in their respective datasheets, which are organized by speed and form factor. Cisco has shipped millions of transceivers in 100M, 1G, 10G, 40G and 100G speeds. As market adoption continues, Cisco will continue this leadership with 25Gbps and new 100Gbps transceivers.

Cisco Transceiver Compatibility Matrix

The Cisco Transceiver Compatibility Matrix is a menu driven tool that lists Cisco platforms and all transceivers qualified on each platform.  For example, the network architect can quickly select transceiver options for the NCS540, a Service Provider Access platform.

Example 1. Using the compatibility matrix tool menus and appropriate filter settings, QSFP transceivers can be selected for the 100Gbps uplinks that span from 500 meters up to 40Km reaches over single mode fiber, which results in the following options: QSFP-100G-PSM4-S, QSFP-100G-CWDM4-S, QSFP-100G-SM-SR, QSFP-100G-LR4-S, and QSFP-100G-ER4L-S.

Example 2. Similarly, 1 Gbps transceiver can be selected for the downlink data rates that span from 1Km to 10Km reaches. In both cases, the SW release version of the switch is provided, along with indication for DOM support (if available).

Buying Optics from a Platform Vendor

Cisco optical transceivers are qualified on the largest portfolio of routers and switches in the industry. By vetting transceivers for the most applications, Cisco routinely identifies issues during qualification that would otherwise go undetected until after network deployment has started. Cisco optics indeed provide peace of mind and the assurance that the entire network will be brought up and continue to operate reliably.


Part 2 of this series is posted here.


Pat Chou

Product Manager

Service Provider - Transceiver Modules Group