In-Depth Introduction of BiDi SFP Modules

Ordinary SFP transceivers use fiber optic cables with two strands of fibers (duplex fiber optic cable) to transmit and receive data respectively. However, the BiDi SFP works differently. It doesn't require a cable to send data and a separate one to receive data. The Bidirectional SFP you will find at QSFPTEK uses a single fiber (simplex fiber optic cable ) to transmit and receive data. This has many advantages as we shall cover in the next few moments.\

Figure 1: BiDi SFP used with simplex fiber optic cable with a single stand of fiber
Figure 2: Ordinary SFP used with duplex fiber optic cable with two stands of fiber

Overview of BiDi SFP

A BiDi SFP module uses wavelength division multiplexing to transfer data. BiDi optics are also called WDM transceivers. It complies with the Multi-source agreement standard for SFP. The BiDi SFP module is made for high-performance duplex data transmission over a single fiber cable. A BiDi transceiver is commonly used to connect a network host device to a fiber optic cable or twisted pair cable.

How Does A BiDi SFP Module Work?

A Bidirectional SFP module works by transmitting data using two wavelengths of light. The first wavelength in a BiDi fiber is used for uplink and the second is used for the downlink. Let's say a BiDi SFP module works using 1310/1550 nanometer wavelengths. The module will typically use the shorter wavelength for uplink and the longer one for downlink.

A BiDi SFP uses one port that has a diplexer. This device either combines or separates data that passes through it by separating the wavelengths of light. A BiDi SFP can only work when deployed in matched pairs. What do matched pairs mean? It means that if the sending transceiver is using, say, 1550 nanometer wavelength to send data, and 1310 nm to receive data, the receiving transceiver must use 1550 nm to receive data and 1310 nm to send data.

Where Is A BiDi SFP Used?

This type of connection is typically used for point-to-point connections such as FTTH. Let's take fiber to the home (FTTH) connection, a BiDi SFP is used to connect a home to the service provider's office. The ability of BiDi SFP to use a simplex fiber optic cable makes it easier for such P2P connections.

The BiDi SFP is also used in metropolitan area networks, inter-server communications, WDM fast ethernet links, routers, switches, etc.

Benefits Of BiDi SFP

  1. BiDi SFP modules use a simplex fiber, unlike the duplex fiber of traditional SFP modules. You save a lot of money for long-range transmissions when you use BiDi optics. You also need fewer fiber patch cables. Using a single fiber means that you require less space for cable management.

  2. A BiDi fiber module does not use up as much space as traditional SFP modules. It is more suitable for cable-dense areas where space comes at a premium.

  3. The cost of a BiDi SFP module is higher than that of traditional SFP bx modules. Despite the upfront cost being higher, the overall cost of using BiDi fiber is lower because of the cost saved when you use a single cable rather than two.

  4. A BiDi fiber supports transmitting data up to 120 kilometers. With such long distances, the only economically feasible cable is a single sable. 

Comparison Between BiDi SFP and Ordinary SFP

The dual-fiber SFP module is still very commonplace. It has been proven to be an effective way to transmit data. The development of wavelength division multiplexing led people to question whether the two-port modules were still needed. This question led to the development of the BiDi SFP.

After the development of BiDi SFP, people were faced with the issue of unused space on the second half of the transceiver. It led to the creation of the compact SFP (CSFP). This type of SFP is a module that has a BiDi fiber on both sides of the transceiver. The transceiver enables you to increase port density by double because each fiber can send and receive data independently. Not all host devices support CSFP, though.

Types Of BiDi SFP Modules

The most prevalent BiDi SFP modules in the market are 1G and 10G SFPs. These transceivers can transmit data up to 80 kilometers.

Another type is the 25G SFP28 BiDi transceiver. It uses single-mode fiber on LC connectors and can transmit up to 10 kilometers. 

There is also a 100G QSFP28 BiDi CWDM4 module that can transfer data up to 2 kilometers.

The 40GBase QSFP+ BiDi module is the final one. It has a range of 100m on OM3 and can transmit to 150m on OM4. This transceiver used two channels of 20g each.

The common form-factors of SFP BX modules are BiDi SFP, BiDi SFP+, BiDi XFP, and BiDi QSFP.

Why Is The Adoption of BiDi SFP Slow?

We have mentioned the benefits of these transceivers and they are wonderful to have. Even with these benefits, there are some hurdles that the BiDi optics have to overcome to become widely adopted. We shall mention a few of them.

  • By using one fiber, you get to save money but some people may argue that it is not enough. This is especially true for people who must use OEM optics which can be prohibitively expensive.

  • To see widespread adoption, there must be many people using the same transceivers. Because the transceiver must be deployed in matching pairs, it can be hard to find a suitable connection to outside networks.

  • There are still many devices that don't fully support BiDi or CSFP. This means that someone who wants to use BiDi could need to replace switches, routers, and other devices which is costly.  


The BiDi SFP breaks many of the conventions that people were used to with traditional SFP modules. What sets it apart from the traditional SFP is the use of a simplex fiber optic cable, which makes the BiDi SFP much cheaper to use for long-distance transmission of data. Despite the obvious benefits of the BiDi SFP, it is not as widespread as traditional SFP modules. Even more rare is the compact SFP which is yet to see widespread support by switches, routers, and other network devices. The ever-increasing need for more speed will play a major role in the widespread adoption and improvement of BiDi optics.

If you are looking for reliable BiDi SFP modules at rock-bottom prices, look no further than QSFPTEK. 1G Bidi SFP, 10G BiDi SFP+, 25G BiDi SFP28 are all provided. They are SFP manufacturers of numerous optical transceiver modules that are compatible with all popular switches and other OEM devices. Drop them an email at sales@qsfptekcom for orders.

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