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What You Don't Know About Active Optical Cables

The explosive growth of global data volume is entering the era of high-speed interconnection. It has driven the development of the data center and high-performance supercomputing center (HPC) market with storage, high-speed routers and supercomputing as the core, and active optical cable products are one of the main interconnection methods between these core equipment.


1. AOC active optical cable process


There are two key processes in the AOC production process: the chip mounting process and the fiber coupling process, which are also the biggest technical difficulties.


The die attach process used by AOC is the cutting-edge Flip-Chip process (also known as flip-chip method), which is both a chip interconnect technology and an ideal die attach technology.


2. AOC active optical cable transmission principle


At both ends of the active optical cable (end A and end B), the data at the A end is input to the electrical signal, and the electrical signal is converted into an optical signal of a specific wavelength through the E-O Converter. The optical signal is modulated and coupled and then input. into the fiber optic cable;


After the optical signal reaches the B end through the optical cable, the active optical cable photoelectric detection device (O-E Converter) detects the optical signal and then amplifies it. The B end outputs the corresponding electrical signal, and the B and A ends are symmetrically transmitted. The principle of reverse transmission same.


Greater Bandwidth: No equipment upgrades required, with up to 400Gbps throughput


3. AOC active optical cable application


In laboratories and teaching centers, active optical cables connect multiple machines to the host, which not only ensures high-speed data transmission, but also ensures network security.


Both data centers and cloud computing systems require higher bandwidth and lower power. 10G SFP+ and 40G QSFP+ in active optical cables can well connect devices (switches, routers) with high-speed optical communication ports.


Digital signage is also a good place for active optical cables to show their talents, which can support 1080p resolution in an outdoor HDMI environment. Not only that, active optical cables are also useful in large-scale outdoor interactive games.


With the trend of "light in and copper out", there will be more bandwidth requirements (such as 4K video transmission, virtual reality, etc.) in the future, and higher bandwidth products based on AOC are bound to be more and more widely used.


4. AOC active optical cable bottleneck - optical engine


The technical threshold of AOC is very high. It not only has high requirements for packaging and manufacturing equipment, but also needs the support of upstream optical engine technology.


The optical engine consists of a laser array, a detector array, an optical fiber array and related driving electronic circuits.


The array optical engine technology has been widely used in AOC active optical cable products - the interconnection between servers and switches, but the optical engine technology also faces great challenges. The core laser is monopolized by a few large international manufacturers, and the price is high.


In addition, the laser drive and the welding technology between the limiting amplification chips also affect the manufacturing efficiency, which restricts the large-scale promotion of Chinese manufacturers. At present, the main suppliers of optical engines are basically manufacturers from other countries.


5. The AOC active optical cable market overview


Subject to the high investment in upstream optical engines and production lines, the profit return of active optical cables is not obvious. Many companies in the industry are taking a wait-and-see attitude and their investments are relatively conservative.

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What You Don't Know About Active Optical Cables
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