New MSA to shrink the QSFP module

Created September 9, 2015
Technologies and Products

Twelve companies are developing a next-generation Quad Small-Form-Factor Pluggable (QSFP) module. Dubbed the Micro QSFP (μQSFP), the multi-source agreement (MSA) will improve by a third the port count on a platform’s face plate compared to the QSFP.

“There is always a quest for greater port density or aggregate bandwidth,” says Nathan Tracy, technologist at TE Connectivity and chair of the μQSFP MSA.

One challenge facing the MSA members is enabling the μQSFP to support interfaces with a  power consumption up to 3.5 W while having the width of a 1.5 W SFP. “We are limited in the directions we can pull the heat out,” says Tracy.

One way heat extraction will be tackled is by using a finned heat sink as part of the module. With current pluggables, sliding the module into the cage puts it into contact with the heat sink. But the surface contact between the two is imperfect, making heat extraction harder.  Building the heat sink as part of the module avoids using the sliding design.

The μQSFP is aimed at platforms such as switches that will support 4.8 and 6.4 Tbit/s traffic. The QSFP is used for current 3.2 Tbps switch platforms but greater port densities will be needed for the next-generation platforms.

The size of the μQSFP means 48 ports will fit in the space 36 QSFPs currently occupy, while 72 μQSFPs will fit on a line card if three rows are used. The μQSFP may also find use outside the data centre for longer, 100 km reaches.

The Micro QSFP group will not detail the MSA timelines but Tracy believes it is needed today.

The μQSFP MSA founding members are Avago Technologies, Broadcom, Brocade, Cisco, Dell, Huawei, Intel, Lumentum (formerly JDSU), Juniper Networks, Microsoft, Molex, and TE Connectivity.


See Also:

Press release: Twelve Leading Global Networking Companies Join Forces to Define µQSFP for Next Generation Data Communications

Gazettabyte: Micro QSFP module to boost equipment port densities


This article was written
by Roy Rubenstein

is the editor of and has been researching and writing about the telecom and semiconductor industries for over 20 years.