What are tunable optical transceivers and why use them? – 10G DWDM Tunable SFP+

With the increasing demand for high traffic capacity, optical with different wavelengths are being widely used within the telecommunications industry. Tunable optical transceivers are a kind of DWDM (Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexer) transceivers and are equipped with an integrated full C-Band 50GHz tunable transmitter and a high-performance PIN receiver to meet the ITU-T (50GHz DWDM ITU-T Full C-band) requirements. Tunable optic transceivers are similar in operation and appearance to fixed transmitters but have the added capability of adjusting its wavelength on-site to the required lambda or wavelength. Tunable DWDM SFP+ transceivers enable us to regulate and change the wavelengths within the C-band DWDM ITU Grid and can be applied in various types of equipment such as switches, routers, and servers.

The tunable laser technology was first introduced in 2013 by a leading supplier and innovator of tunable laser and transceiver solutions – Oclaro. These first-generation tunable SFP+ optical transceivers were not able to meet the critical requirement of less than 1.5 W of power consumption at high operating temperatures so they were not widely adopted. A year later, Oclaro introduced a new tunable SFP+ with an innovative new chip design and the use of next-generation materials. This technology was fully compliant to the SFP MSA form factor and could operate perfectly at 1.5W at 70 degrees C with excellent OSNR tolerance.

This breakthrough and advancement in technology led to 10G tunable SFP+ transceivers which meet the world’s growing bandwidth demands while reducing the size and power consumption for 10G connections. That’s how 10G tunable SFP+ transceivers become an important component for next-generation data center, metro, and regional optical network equipment.

When are tunable optical transceivers used?

Wavelength tunable optical transceivers are becoming important in next-generation networks due to the fact that their wavelengths can be switched between different DWDM channels while in use in the network. This channel switching capability has resulted in a reduction in the number of components and costs in today’s DWDM systems.

The tunable optical transceivers come in handy when you are using up to 80 different wavelengths while running a large scale DWDM network with various nodes located in lots of places. While running this kind of a system with fixed transceivers you would need a few spares for each wavelength which would result in huge amounts of stock and complex stock management processes. But with tunable optic transceiver, the number of devices is significantly reduced, lowering storage and management costs.

Why use tunable optical transceivers?

Known for the flexible selecting of working wavelength, tunable DWDM SFP+ transceivers have significant practical value in optical fiber communication wave division multiplexing system, optical add-drop multiplexer and optical cross-connection, optical switching equipment, light source parts, etc. These high-performance SFP+ optics transceivers are able to operate at various wavelengths and adjust their wavelength according to each user’s needs. Due to cost-saving factors and flexibility of use, these tunable transceivers are very popular in DWDM systems. Here are a few advantages of tunable optics transceivers:

  • Flexible network management

A tunable SFP+ transceiver can be remotely configured for a specific wavelength to support bandwidth changes as needed in Enterprise or Metro networks.

  • Reduced network inventory

A single tunable SFP+ can support up to 80 different wavelengths while running a large scale DWDM network with various nodes located in lots of places hence eliminating the need for multiple fixed wavelength transceivers.

  • Reduced power consumption

It provides a significant reduction in electrical power dissipation as compared to other tunable solutions.

  • Compact and high-density form factor

Data centers, nowadays, are facing a huge problem of acquiring suitable real estate. This issue is solved by the new tunable SFP+ transceivers which will be about the size of a pack of gum hence saving valuable real estate in data centers.

  • Increased network capacity

The upgrade to 50GHz channel spacing in the tunable SFP+ transceivers doubles the network capacity potential in Enterprise and Metro networks.


The introduction of 10G DWDM tunable SFP+ transceivers in the market will accelerate the trend for pace-, power-, and cost-efficient network solutions as tunability are critical for minimizing the inventory and enabling a flexible rapid service provisioning. Although now the market share for DWDM tunable SFP+ transceiver is not big enough, the huge potential will be demonstrated soon.