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Active optical cable doubles reach over copper solutions

November 20, 2012 // Julien Happich

Active optical cable doubles reach over copper solutions

Avago Technologies has released new Active Optical Cable (AOC) family, high density SFP+ QSFP+, and CXP solutions for high performance computing and data centre applications.

These active optical cable assemblies use proprietary technology yielding a lower cost per 10G link than active copper cables. Combined with performance increases, lower weight and easier cable management, they enable a high data throughput interconnects up to 100 meters. The Avago AOC portfolio includes 10GbE SFP+, 40GbE QSFP+ and 150G CXP active optical cable offerings. AOCs use a cabling technology that accepts the same electrical inputs as a traditional copper cable, but use optical fiber “between the connectors” with electrical-to-optical conversion on the cable ends that improves speed and the link distance of the cables without sacrificing compatibility with standard electrical interfaces. The new SFP+ and QSFP+ AOC products are the first to be released using the new Avago AtlasTM 75X embedded optical engine. This optical technology makes it possible to realize significantly higher performance and reach at a lower cost compared to copper cables. The CXP AOC offerings use the proven Atlas 77X optical engines (also known as MicroPOD modules) which deliver all the performance, link distance and features such as DMI available in discrete transceiver solutions at a cost savings.

The bit error rates (BER) for Avago AOCs are 10-15 compared to DAC that is 10-12. Statistically, this translates to less than one bit error per day for the Avago AOC compared to a bit error every 1-2 minutes for a copper cable. EMI immunity is better than DAC as the high frequency EMI signal is confined within the pluggable modules while only the optical signal is transmitted along the cable. The reach of these AOCs is up to 20 meters for the SFP+ and QSFP+ versions compared to direct attach copper (DAC) with a reach of slightly over a 5 meters maximum at 10G. Additionally, the weight of an AOC is about 25% of DAC, has a smaller cable diameter and offers a minimum cable bending radius of only 30mm, much better than DAC.

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