Introduction to Active Optical Cable (AOC Cable)

Data requirement is tremendous increase in year 2016 to year 2020, thus a high transmission media is required, Active Optical Cables (AOCs) could achieve high data transmission over distances, The AOC with electrical inputs as a traditional copper cable, and use optical fiber as transmission media, it is an ideal to streamlined installation for high-performance computing and storage applications with sacrificing compatibility of the existing standard electrical interfaces.

The following is a picture briefly show the structure of AOC Cable:

AOC IntroductionThe AOC Cable generally composed  as follow:

  1. The Active connectors are QSFP+, complied with SFF-8436 standard, could be hot-swappable in switch, router, etc.
  2. The system with 4Tx and 4 Rx channels, could transmit data in parallel to reach duplex data transmission.
  3. The AOC with O-E (Optical-Electronic) and E-O (Electronic – Optical) conversion module.
  4. The ribbon optical fiber cable (generally yellow cable for SM (single mode) Cable, and Orange or Aqua for Multimode Cable).


Why Use Active Optical Cable (AOC)?
1. Compared to Copper Cables

  • Longer reach, using single mode fiber, could transmit over kilo meters
  • Lower weight and tighter bend radius, compared with traditional bulky  cooper cable, the cable is light weight and with small bending radius, easy for installation, as well as enable simpler cable management
  • Thinner cables, It allows better airflow for cooling
  • Lower power consumption
  • No need for power-hungry conditioning ICs on the host board

2. Compared to Optical Transceivers

  • Cost effective: Compatible with existing cooper interface, no need new investment
  • Data center/Consumer friendly: No need to worry about contamination on fiber connector
  • Disadvantage: Have to use extra cabinets for wiring, not able to use fiber optic patch panel
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