AOC Active Optical Cable is a cabling technology that accepts the same electrical inputs as a direct attach cable, but uses optical fiber“between the connectors”. AOC 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.
Active Optical Cables (AOCs) are transceiver products that have fiber optic cables permanently embedded in each end for applications with predictable and consistent link distance needs. Available in edge pluggable variants only, these “ready to use” electrical-to-optical converters provide generations of optical connectivity at data rates up to 100Gb/s and link distances up to 100 meters. AOCs and passive copper Direct Attach Cables (DAC) are commonly deployed in server to Top-of-Rack type applications, where link distances are typically less than 30 meters. The advantage of AOCs are longer link distances, less bulky physical cabling and an active digital high speed electrical interface facing the host ASIC. Target applications include LAN Ethernet, InfiniBand, OmniPath and Proprietary Interconnect networks.
AOC cables were developed as an alternative to traditional Direct Attach Copper cables (DAC) to provide greater distance. They are generally used in data centers and High-Performance Computing (HPC) applications where a mix of length and value is required. As more enterprises rely on high-performance computers and networked storage solutions, Active Optical Cables are poised to become considerably more ubiquitous in the coming years, rendering their copper counterparts obsolete.