Fiber optics transfer large amounts of information
Normal networks in the home reach a blazingly quick one gigabit speed. Sending information within a high performance environment is a bit different, usually needing many connections significantly faster than one gigabit to be effective. Typical fiber optics today only transfer around 4.25 gigabits, but do so at the speed of light as opposed to through electrical signals. Newer XFP modules are the evolved version, and those are equipped for transfers at up to 10 gigabits. The forthcoming standard of these types of plugs, called SFP+, will modify the way these modules are made since they require a controller on the motherboard. Each unit no longer has to have its own processing, and as a result will be much less expensive for the long run and upgrading in the future.
The SFP modules were a replacement for what are referred to as GBIC connections. The GBIC devices were improved upon by SFPs in many ways, including fitting more plugs into one area and raising the speed of data both in how much can be sent at the same time and how fast it arrives. The wires are very efficient in a small area, but when the wire gets longer, the response time lowers drastically. Since this standard is still fast and not too expensive now, small networks often benefit from these the most.
To keep track of what is going on and do diagnostics on the network, Cisco SFP modules implement digital optical monitoring features. In large server situations where information loads must be balanced between many connections, these tools allow a server operator to pinpoint issues and tweak the system to run more efficiently. These devices are what make running substantial server operations attainable, since they allow loads from very light to major use times to run as if nothing is happening better.
Since SFP+ standards are considerably different and potentially hurt the versatility these plugs provide, they are often looked down upon by longtime server companies. These programmable hosts on the memory board are created to adapt to future kinds of plugs that will be available.