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Application and Market Analysis of Active Optical Cables

Sep. 23, 2020

AOC (Active Optical Cable) refers to the communication cable that needs to use external energy to convert electrical signals into optical signals or convert optical signals into electrical signals during the communication process. The optical transceivers at both ends of the optical cable provide photoelectric conversion and optical transmission functions.

AOC application

Teaching centers and laboratories; active optical cables connect multiple machines with the host, which not only guarantees high-speed data transmission but also realizes a secure network system.

Data centers and cloud computing systems; To achieve higher bandwidth and lower power requirements, active optical cables can be well connected to switches or routers with high-speed optical communication ports.

Digital signage; active optical cables can meet the requirements of supporting 1080p resolution in outdoor HDMI environments. Not only that, but active optical cables are also useful in outdoor large-scale interactive games.

There will be more bandwidth requirements in the future (such as 4K video transmission, virtual reality, etc.), and higher bandwidth products based on AOC will inevitably get more and more extensive applications. 

Active Optical Cable

AOC bottleneck-optical engine

The technical threshold of AOC is very high. It not only requires high packaging equipment but also requires the support of upstream optical engine technology.

The optical engine is composed of a laser array, a detector array, an optical fiber array, and related drive electronics. Array optical engine technology has been widely used in active optical cable products-the interconnection between servers and switches. However, the optical engine technology is also facing great challenges. The core laser is monopolized by a few large international manufacturers and is expensive. Moreover, the welding technology between the laser driver and the amplitude-limiting amplifier chip also affects the production efficiency and restricts the promotion of domestic manufacturers. At present, the main suppliers of optical engines are basically foreign manufacturers.

AOC market overview

Constrained by the high investment in upstream optical engines and production lines, the profit return of active optical cables is not obvious. Companies in many industries are holding a wait-and-see attitude and their investments are relatively conservative. The senior analyst of the OFweek Industry Research Center believes that as the best solution for high-speed optical interconnection, the demand for active optical cables is growing steadily, and the prices of upstream optical cables, optical modules, especially VCSEL lasers, and PIN diodes, are constantly declining. Suppliers who invest in development in the early stage will eventually get rich returns.

The above information is provided by the AOC cable supplier.