Transceiver vs Transponder: What’s the Difference?

In a fiber optic communication network, there are many equipment and facilities to support the normal operation of the system. Fiber optic transponder and fiber optic transceiver are common ones. Literally, both of them are with a prefix “trans”. It seems to imply that there is a similarity between them. Actually, they are not the same. So, transceiver vs transponder , what’s the difference between them, something difference on principle or applications? Today, we are going to have a discussion on this topic.

First, in order to better understand the difference between a fiber optic transceiver and a fiber optic transponder, we need to define what each one does.

Transceiver vs Transponder: Fiber Optic Transceiver

Most systems use a “transceiver” which includes both transmission and receiver in a single module. Its purpose, in broad terms, is to transmit and receive data. In fiber optic communication, the commonly used transceiver modules are hot-swappable I/O (input/output) devices which plug into module sockets. The transceiver acts to connect the electrical circuitry of the module with the optical or copper network. Devices such as routers or network interface cards provide one or more transceiver module slot (e.g GBIC, SFP, XFP), into which you can insert a transceiver module which is appropriate for that connection. The optical fiber, or wire, plugs into a connector on the transceiver module. There are multiple types of transceiver module available for use with different types of wire, fiber, different wavelengths within a fiber, and for communication over different distances. The most commonly used fiber optic transceivers include GBIC, SFP, SFP+, XFP, CFP, QSFP etc. They are widely used for different application, eg. 10G, 40G fiber optic transmission.

Transceiver vs Transponder: transceiver

Transceiver vs Transponder: Fiber Optic Transponder

“Transponder” includes a transmitter and a responder. It is a similar device with transceiver. In optical fiber communications, a transponder is the element that sends and receives the optical signal from a fiber. A transponder is typically characterized by its data rate and the maximum distance the signal can travel. According to its specific applications, it is also known as wavelength-converting transponder, WDM transponder or fiber to fiber media converter. Fiber optic Transponders extend network distance by converting wavelengths (1310 to 1550), amplifying optical power and can support the “Three Rs” to Retime, Regenerate and Reshape the optical signal. In general, there is an O-E-O (optical-electrical-optical) function with this device. Fiber optic transponders and optical multiplexers are usually present in the terminal multiplexer as an important component for WDM (Wavelength Division Multiplexing) system. In addition, in nowadays market, many transponders are designed as protocol and rate-transparent fiber media converters that support SFP, SFP+ and XFP transceivers with data rates up to 11.32 Gpbs, and with seamless integration of different fiber types by converting multi-mode fiber to single-mode fiber, and dual fiber to single-fiber.

Transceiver vs Transponder: Transponder

Optical Transceiver vs Transponder Differences

A transponder and transceiver are both functionally similar devices that convert a full-duplex electrical signal in a full-duplex optical signal. The difference between the two is that fiber transceivers interface electrically with the host system using a serial interface, whereas transponders use a parallel interface. So transponders are easier to handle lower-rate parallel signals, but are bulkier and consume more power than transceivers. In addition, transceivers are limited to providing an electrical-optical function only (not differentiating between serial or parallel electrical interfaces), whereas transponders convert an optical signal at one wavelength to an optical signal at another wavelength. As such, transponders can be considered as two transceivers placed back-to-back.

Author’s Note

I hope you can start down the path to fully understanding transceivers, transponders, and the transceiver vs transponder differences, particularly in a networking, Ethernet, or fiber-optic communications setting after reading this article. Of cause, knowledge is endless, if you still want to get more information about transceiver and transponder, I suggest that you should find more references to read. If you just need to buy the related products, I will recommend Fiberstore to you as usual.

Related Article: Application Schemes of WDM Transponder (O-E-O)
Related Article: Introduction of OEO Media Converter Based WDM System

This entry was posted in Fiber Optic Transceivers, WDM & Optical Access and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.