LightCounting: Active optical cable market matures

Created September 13, 2013
News and Business

Global sales of AOCs won’t match last year’s stellar growth of 65 percent, but will continue to expand at a respectable rate of 30 percent this year, according to the latest report from market analysts at LightCounting.

LightCounting also predicts that the market for active optical cables (AOCs) will reach $150 million in 2013.

AOCs emerged in 2007 and are expanding into additional segments in high-speed data and some video communications.  More and more protocols are moving to higher line rates where copper links start to have issues with reach and electromagnetic interference. In these deployment scenarios, AOCs offer compelling benefits of high data rate, long reach and low price, and this is driving the expansion of the market, according to LightCounting.

The market also received a boost from the faster than expected up-tick of the 14G InfiniBand FDR standards-based products.  The InfiniBand market represents the largest share of the AOC market today.

The advent of “Big Data” has seen high-performance computing clusters move beyond supercomputing research centres and out in into the enterprise, allowing companies to perform analyses and answer questions their earlier tools could not support.  Most Ethernet-centric folks are surprised to learn that InfiniBand is penetrating cloud computing data centres in a meaningful way, the research firm says.

Consumer applications for AOCs are an unknown factor. Optical cable formats such as Thunderbolt, HDMI, and USB are relatively new to the market, but could see an explosion in their use in future years.

Not surprisingly, everyone wants a piece of the action and LightCounting now counts 26 players in the market along with a flurry of M&A activity. Volex acquired the AOC business of AppliedMicro in January this year, while Mellanox recently acquired a silicon photonics and a transceiver IC company in early 2013, bringing the design skills for optical cables in house.

By Pauline Rigby

See Also: 
Press release: Sales of active optical cables are projected to increase by 30% in 2013
Optical Connections: Mellanox Technologies hits the silicon acquisition trail


This article was written
by Pauline Rigby