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Data Center Cabling Solution: Active Optical Cable

Date: 2023-10-16 17:17:00

As data rates rise and data center grows in size, copper cable is getting stretched to its limits. However,  active optical cable (AOC) has emerged to replace copper cable in data centers and high-performance computing (HPC) applications. It provides high-speed, high reliability, high flexibility, and low power consumption. This article will provide some knowledge of  AOC cable. 


What is an Active Optical Cable?
Active optical cable (AOC) is an optical fiber jumper cable terminated with optical transceivers on both ends. It uses electrical-to-optical conversion on the cable ends to improve the speed and distance performance of the cable without sacrificing compatibility with standard electrical interfaces.


Active Optical Cable Structure
AOC cable consists of the fiber optic connector and fiber cable. The connection between fiber cable and fiber optic connectors is not separable. If the fiber optic connector or fiber cable needs to be changed, they should be removed together. The electrical and optical signal conversion can be achieved right through each end of the optical fiber.

Active Optical Cable Types
There are several varieties of AOC cable available on the market , including 10G SFP+ AOC, 25G SFP28 AOC,40G QSFP+ AOC, 56G QSFP+ AOC, 40G QSFP+ to 4x SFP+ breakout AOC, 40G QSFP+ to 8x LC breakout AOC, 100G QSFP28 AOC, 100G QSFP28 to 4x SFP28 breakout AOC and 120G CXP AOC, etc. These AOC cables are commonly used for short-range multi-lane data communication and interconnect applications between two devices, such as rack-to-rack, shelf-to-shelf interconnect, storage, hubs, switches, routers, servers, etc.

Features and Benefits
AOC cable provides low power consumption, high density, high speed, high reliability, high security, small size, strong heat dissipation, low electromagnetic interference, long transmission distance, low energy consumption, low latency, lightweight, and ease of installation.

Application Scenarios
AOC Cable is used to connect top-of-row (ToR) switches to end-of-row aggregation switches, and to connect the ToR switch with storage subsystems at reaches greater than direct attach copper (DAC) limits of 3-7 meters. The following three scenarios show the specific applications.
Scenario 1:  AOC cable is used to connect two switches directly.

Scenario 2: The breakout AOC cable provides a highly cost-effective way to connect within racks and across adjacent racks. The following figure shows 40GbE QSFP+ to 4 x SFP+ AOC cable connecting to a 40G QSFP+ port switch on one end, and to four 10G SFP+ port switches on the other end.

Scenario 3: For the long-haul transmission between the two switches, a suitable solution is recommended to use single-mode patch cable, OEO converters, and AOC cables, which can provide seamless integration of different fiber types by converting multi-mode fiber to single-mode fiber.
AOC cable achieves high data rates over long reaches interconnection, which is the best solution for data centers and high-performance computing applications. Sun Telecom specializes in providing one-stop total fiber optic solutions for all fiber optic application industries worldwide. Contact us if any needs.


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