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New Optical Cables from Avago Outperforms Copper

November 13, 2012

New Optical Cables from Avago Outperforms Copper

By Frank Griffin
TMCnet Contributing Writer

Wireless technology is everywhere, but when it comes to networks that handle large amounts of data, cables are still an integral part of data transmission. Copper cables are still used to transmit data, but optical cables are increasingly becoming the preferred choice for high performance computing (HPC) and datacenter applications. The new Active Optical Cable (AOC) from Avago is designed to meet the requirements of high end applications.

The AOC line is a high density SFP+ QSFP+, and CXP solution with a propriety technology with lower cost per 10G link than active copper cables. Using these cables will increase the performance by enabling high data throughput interconnects for distances of up to 100 meters. The cables also weigh less than DAC (Direct Attach Copper) cables and are easier to manage. This is an important feature in a room full of servers with hundreds of attachments.

"These new AOC products strengthen our lead in high bandwidth pluggable optics technology. Applying our proven design technology and volume manufacturing expertise is expanding access to a broader variety of previously copper-only market segments," said Sharon Hall, Product Line Manager for Avago fiber optic products.

The AOC line uses a technology that is able to accept the same amount of electrical inputs as copper cables. It does this by using electrical-to-optical conversion on the cable ends, improving the speed and the link distance without compatibility issues with standard electrical interfaces.

The benefit of using AOC over DAC is it can perform with today's performance-enhanced applications. Additionally, DACs have a higher error rate than Avago's AOC. The statistical translation of the bit error rate (BER) for the AOC is one bit error per day compared to a bit error of every one to two minutes for a copper cable. The AOC also has a reach of 20 meters compared to only a maximum of a little more than five meters for the DAC at 10G.

Electromagnetic interference (EMI) immunity is critical for networks with sensitive data. Spikes in EMIs can result in multiple errors from remote receivers because they are not able to detect data packets. The result is higher rates of error, network congestion and degradation of transmission quality. With the AOC, only the optical signal is transmitted along the cable, while the EMI signal is confined within the pluggable modules.

The increasing use of smart mobile devices and cloud applications means more data will be created at a faster rate than any time in history. This data is warehoused in server farms that rely on many different components including cables capable of performing at high rates of transmission with very low error rates.

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Edited by Brooke Neuman
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