What is the difference between a fiber optic transceiver and a switch?

- Dec 03, 2020-

What is the difference between fiber optic transceivers and switches?

Optical fiber transceiver is a very cost-effective and flexible device. The common use is to convert the electrical signal in the twisted pair into an optical signal. It is generally used in Ethernet copper cables that cannot be covered and optical fibers must be used to extend the transmission distance. In the actual network environment, it also plays a huge role in connecting the last mile of the optical fiber to the metropolitan area network and the outer network.

A switch is a network device used to forward electrical (optical) signals. It plays a central role in the mutual communication between wired network devices (such as computers, printers, computers, etc.). It is usually connected to a router so that you can pass optical Cat accesses the network.

Scenes of applications switch

Transmission rate

At present, fiber optic transceivers can be divided into 100M fiber optic transceivers, Gigabit fiber optic transceivers and 10G fiber optic transceivers. Among them, the most common are 100M and Gigabit fiber optic transceivers, which are economical and efficient solutions in home and small and medium-sized enterprise networks. Network switches include 1G, 10G, 25G, 100G and 400G switches. Taking large data center networks as an example, 1G/10G/25G switches are mainly used at the access layer or as ToR switches, while 40G/100G/400G switches are mostly used as core or Backbone switch.

Installation difficulty

Fiber optic transceivers are relatively simple network hardware devices with fewer interfaces than switches, so their wiring and connections are relatively simple. They can be used alone or installed on a rack. Since the optical fiber transceiver is a plug-and-play device, its installation steps are also very simple: just insert the corresponding copper cable and optical fiber jumper into the corresponding electrical and optical ports, and then connect the copper cable and optical fiber to the network device Both ends are fine.

The network switch can be used alone in a home network or small office, or it can be installed on a rack in a large data center network. Generally, you need to insert the module into the corresponding port, and then use the corresponding network cable or optical fiber jumper to connect to the computer or other network equipment. In a high-density cabling environment, patch panels, optical fiber boxes, and cable management tools need to be used to manage cables and simplify wiring. For managed network switches, some advanced functions are required, such as SNMP, VLAN, IGMP and other functions.

Function configuration

Electrical-to-optical (optical-to-electricity) and optical-to-optical fiber optic transceivers are two common types. The former can convert electrical signals into optical signals to realize the connection of devices based on copper cabling to extend the transmission distance; while the latter can Realize single-multimode conversion, single-dual fiber conversion and wavelength conversion (mainly converting conventional wavelengths of 1310nm and 1550nm into WDM wavelengths).

Compared with the optical transceiver, the function of the switch is much more complicated, which is determined by its network operating system. According to the network layer, they can be divided into layer 2, layer 3, and layer 4 switches. Normally, a layer 2 switch is the basic switch used to transmit data and perform error checking on every frame sent and received. Layer 3 and Layer 4 switches have routing functions that can actively send data packets to the destination in the best way. In addition, they also have some advanced functions, such as MLAG, STP, VXLAN, etc.

How to choose fiber optic transceivers and switches?

1. Fiber optic transceivers are usually used when Ethernet cables cannot be covered and fiber jumpers must be used to extend the transmission distance within a limited budget. They can be used for the construction of local area networks and inter-city area networks, such as enterprise networks and campus backbone networks.

2. The network switch has multiple ports for different devices (such as computers and printers) to communicate in the LAN. In other words, the network switch is a more flexible device, which can be easily added to the network to expand the network capacity. In addition, it can prevent the traffic between two devices from obstructing your other devices on the same network, allowing you to easily control the network.

3. Fiber optic transceivers and network switches can also work in the same network. For example, when the network switch has only electrical ports, but needs to transmit more than 100 meters, it is necessary to use optical fiber transceivers to transmit electrical signals to optical signals to extend the transmission distance.

Scenes of applications


The role of fiber optic transceivers and switches are different, but they can work together in an Ethernet network. One thing to remember is that fiber optic transceivers are mainly used for copper-to-fiber conversion to extend the transmission distance, while network switches are used to connect network devices together for data sharing and communication.