Active Optical Cable (AOC) – A Rising Star in Transceiver Markets

With the advent of the big-data age, the cloud technology has developed rapidly. In order to satisfy the demands of higher bandwidth and more applications in a variety of cloud computing environments, active optical cable (AOC cable) has emerged. Nowadays, the market of AOC cable keeps growing and has a broad prospect. Today, we will introduce active optical cable and discuss its prospect forecast.

What’s Active Optical Cable (AOC)?
Active Optical Cable (AOC) is used for short-range multi-lane data communication and interconnect applications. In fact, the wire transmission of optical communication should belong to passive part, however, AOC cable is special. Active optical cable integrates multimode optical fiber, fiber optic transceivers, control chip and modules. It uses electrical-to-optical conversion on the cable ends to improve speed and distance performance of the cable without sacrificing compatibility with standard electrical interfaces. As people expect more information to be available at their fingertips, our communications systems will need to be quicker, and AOC  cable is one of the best solutions to this challenge. Compared with common cable for data transmission, AOC  cable provides more advantages, such as lighter weight, high performance, low power consumption, low interconnection loss, EMI immunity and flexibility. With its benefits, active optical cable is widely used in many fields as well as promoting the traditional data center to step into optical interconnection. Now, market of AOC cable is booming.

active optical cable-aoc cable

Development of Active Optical Cable
Primarily, active optical cable (AOC) assemblies were invented to replace copper technology in data centers and high performance computing (HPC) applications. As we know, copper cable is heavy and bulky, making it difficult to physically manage the datacenter. And due to the nature of electrical signals, electromagnetic interference (EMI) limits copper’s performance and reliability. Though there are so many disadvantages of copper cable, at that time, it is the main stream while the idea of AOC cables almost seems too good to be true. However, the advantages of AOC cable make the predecessors look obsolete and unsophisticated, and changes the limitation of copper cable as well as playing an important role in high speed data transmission. Nowadays, a variety of active optical cables have been launched in the market, such as 10GbE SFP+ AOCs, 40Gbps QSFP+ AOCs and 120G CXP AOCs, for 10G, 40G and 100G applications.

Comparison of Passive/Active DAC and AOC Cables
Passive cabling provides a direct electrical connection between corresponding cable ends. Active cables provide the same effect but, by embedding optics and/or electronics within the connectors, can overcome some of the limitations of passive cables. While passive cables are always copper-based, active optical cables can use either copper wire or fiber optics to provide the link between the cable ends. About the difference between copper and fiber, we have talked above. The following picture shows us the leading types of passive and active cables for data center.

leading types of passive and active cable for data center

Prospect of Active Optical Cable
AOC cable market has continued to grow and attract new entrants, including some of the world’s biggest suppliers of cabling and telecom components. The market and application prospect of active optical cables will have a broader development, said Brad Smith, Senior Vice President and Lead Analyst, LightCounting as, “AOC cables are positioned to become “.a disruptive force in telecommunications and datacom transceiver markets in the near future.”

According to the newest report, sales of active optical cables for the data center will produce $1.5 billion in revenues by 2019. The application fields of active optical cables are mainly in data center and have a large proportion. Additionally, in HPC, consumer electronics, HDMI and digital signage, AOC cables are also increasing in application. The application of active optical cables (AOC) in future data center will focus on high speed transmission, such as 40Gbps, 100Gbps and even InfiniBand.

The following diagram shows the worldwide AOC cable market forecast by MSA, from 2014-2020. AOC market keeps growing and developing.

AOC cable market forecast

Applications of Active Optical Cable
In general, AOC assemblies can be used on optical backplanes, rack-to-rack, shelf-to-shelf interconnect, storage, hubs, switches, routers, servers, etc.

  • InfiniBand QDR, DDR and SDR interconnects
  • Data Aggregation, Backplane and Proprietary Density Applications
  • PCI-Express, SAS/SATA, Fiber Channel compatible interconnect
  • 40GBE and 10GBE interconnects
  • 10G, 40G Telecom connections
  • Hubs, switches, routers, servers
  • Ethernet 10G, 40G
  • Data Centers
  • High Performance Computing clusters

FS.COM Active Optical Cable Solution
FS.COM active optical cablesFS.COM active optical cables achieve high data rates over long reaches which are the best solutions for high-performance computing and storage applications. We supply AOC cable products such as 10G SFP+ AOCs, 40G QSFP+ AOCs, QSFP+ to 4 SFP+ AOCs, QSFP+ to 8 x LC AOCs and 120G CXP AOCs etc. In addition, custom cables are available in various lengths, Cisco compatible and other options. Recently, FS.COM has cut the price of its direct attach cable (DAC) products in order to offer a more cost-effective high speed transmission solution for the old and new customers. Most of the AOC cable and other DAC products have a price reduction varied from 10% to 20% and even more. For more detailed information, please visit our latest news or contact us over E-mail

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