Active Optical Cables VS Traditional Copper

Traditional copper wiring has many constraints. As InfiniBand data speeds increase and data centers cluster in size, copper cable technology is being pushed to its limits. Passive cables are restricted by their conductivity and can only carry a certain amount of data over short distances.

Active optical cables transcend some of the constraints of passive cables by incorporating optics and electronics into the connections. Whereas passive cables are typically copper-based, active cables can employ copper wire and fiber optics to deliver an all-in-one solution, built into one cable. 

Copper passive cables are bulky and numerous, making physical data center management challenging and vulnerable to electromagnetic interference (Unwanted electrical noise introduced into a system by an outside source that can cause poor operation, malfunction, or complete system shutdown), restricting copper’s performance and dependability.

Assortment of copper cables

Instead, Active Optical Cable (AOC) is a hybrid design technique that utilizes optical fiber “between the connectors” to deliver the same electrical bandwidth that would be found in a significantly larger number of copper cables. Optical cables use light to transmit data and therefore the transmission is not delayed by distance. Because of the bandwidth-distance limits of copper cable installations, engineers frequently incorporate amplifiers, signal regenerators, frame grabbers, signal redrivers, retimers, and other similar devices inside the system assembly. AOC is becoming widely employed in various applications, including long-reach devices and data-hungry systems because of its countless advantages.

AOC cables have many benefits over copper cable. These benefits include reduced weight, higher bandwidth, lower power consumption, lower connectivity loss, EMI/EMS immunity, highly ruggedized, superior data entry, and technology supporting ESG (environmental, social, and governance standards). AOC uses electrical-to-optical conversion on the cable ends to improve the speed and distance performance of the cable without sacrificing compatibility with standard electrical interfaces.

Active optical cable (AOC) is primarily situated for long-reach multi-lane data transfer, control, and power delivery. While optical communication data transmission belongs to the passive component, AOC is an exception. An AOC consists of multimode optical fibers, control chips, optical transceivers and receivers, and modules.

Nortech Systems’ Active Optical Xtreme (AOXTM) is the newest small form-factor hybrid solution in the family of Active Optical Cable assemblies.

      “AOX delivers the power of traditional copper cables, plus the high-quality data of fiber optics in a single cable,” said Jay D. Miller, Nortech’s CEO. Nortech’s AOX technology is highly customizable and designed to connect intelligent devices across longer distances in demanding environments such as automated factories.

Active Opticle Xtreme Cable

Transmitting data over fiber optics offers inherent EMI and EMS immunity. Utilizing fiber optics within a shielded hybrid cable assembly further enhances data quality to create a superior choice for machine vision applications. Nortech understands the global ESG trend that requires reduced risk in an environmentally sustainable supply chain. AOX is designed to help meet these challenges by incorporating fiber optics with reductions in copper content. Fiber requires far less energy to utilize throughout its lifecycle and eliminates the mining processes associated with copper while offering significantly increased performance.

The combination of optical fiber and copper wire increases performance speeds and reduces multiple copper cables to a single hybrid cable for power, control, and data while preserving compatibility with existing electrical system designs. Power delivery beyond 150 Watts is possible all while being customizable over 40 meters, and this cable proves that. Designed to optimize power supply and data integrity at longer distances, AOX provides a very flexible and resilient spectrum of solutions. The embedded electronics are protected by rugged and durable connector and backshell arrangements. This single cable solution reduces design complexity and streamlines the supply chain when compared with congested multi-cable configurations.

Learn More About Active Optical vs Copper

Every year, more businesses are turning to fiber optic solutions. Contact Nortech today for more information on AOX design and applications for your organization.