A multi-source agreement (MSA) is an agreement among multiple manufacturers to make products which are compatible across vendors. These agreements are not official standards, rather they are internal working specifications among MSA committee members, providing a common reference for systems manufacturers, system integrators, and suppliers.

 

MSAs specify parameters for system components and their guideline values, such as mechanical dimensions, the electrical and optical interfaces as well as electro-magnetic values. Equipment vendors rely on MSAs when designing their systems. This ensures interoperability and interchangeability between interface modules. Products that adhere to multi-source agreements (MSAs) include: optical transceivers, such as SFPSFP+XENPAKQSFPXFPCFP etc.; fiber optic cables; and other networking devices.

Some major multi-source agreements for optical transceivers are presented in table below:

 

Name of MSA Year of latest revision Brief Description Keywords/Applications
SFP+ 2013 Enhanced small form-factor pluggable Designed for 10Gb/s. Supports 8Gb/s Fibre Channel, 10 Gb/s Ethernet and Optical Transport Network standard OTU2
QSFP/QSFP+
or
QSFP/QSFP+
2013 Quad Small Form factor Pluggable 10G and 28G Supports Ethernet, Fibre Channel, InfiniBand and SONET/SDH standards up to 40GB/s and 100Gb/s
CXP In Progress C Form Factor Pluggable CXP and CXP2. Supports Infiniband and Ethernet to 100G.
CFP 2013 C Form Factor Pluggable (100G) optical transceiver form factors supporting 40Gb/s and 100Gb/s. CFP, CFP2 and CFP4
Obsolete MSAs
GBIC 2000 Gigabit Interface Converter Designed for Gigabit Ethernet, SDH/SONET (2.5 Gb/s) and Fibre Channel (4Gb/s). superseded by SFP
SFP 2001 Small Form-factor Pluggable Designed for Gigabit Ethernet, SDH/SONET (2.5 Gb/s) and Fibre Channel (4Gb/s)
XENPAK 2001 Fiber optic transceiver for 10Gb Ethernet Superseded by X2 and SFP+
X2 2005 Fiber optic transceiver for 10Gb Ethernet Superseded by SFP+
XFP 2005 Fiber optic transceiver for 10GB Ethernet Designed for 10Gb/s. Supports 8Gb/s Fibre Channel, 10 Gb/s Ethernet and Optical Transport Network

References:

  1. SFF-8472 Specification for Diagnostic Monitoring Interface for Optical Transceivers, Rev 11.1 October 26, 2012
  2. http://www.fiber-optic-solutions.com/knowledge-of-multi-source-agreement.html , viewed 14 May 14, 2018
  3. https://www.commscope.com/Resources/Standards/Enterprise/Multi-source-agreements/ , viewed 14 May 14, 2018

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