LightCounting Releases a Report on Expanding Market for Active Optical Cables

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The Active Optical Cable (AOC) market faced many challenges in 2011 from numerous consolidating acquisitions, to the entry of Asian based, low cost suppliers pummeling prices, earthquakes and tsunamis in Japan, to flooding of manufacturing sources in Taiwan and finally intellectual property battles over who owns what.  Stability was regained in 2012 and growth continued strong through the year.  But everyone likes a good party and now LightCounting counts 26 players in the AOC market.   And after a quiet period of acquisitions, Mellanox surprised many with its acquisitions of a silicon photonics and a transceiver IC company in early 2013. 

AOCs emerged in 2007 and are just now expanding into additional segments in high-speed data and some video communications.  Starting out in High-Performance Computers (HPC) and now spreading to traditional data centers with multiple protocols, we are finally seeing the market broadening to a point that AOC players have needed for some time. 

In 2012, the market grew 65%, blowing out our previous forecast.  This was on top of a stellar 2011.  A key difference was the faster than expected up-tick of the 14G InfiniBand FDR AOC segment.  We now predict the AOC market to grow 30% to $150 million in 2013.

The InfiniBand market represents the largest share today and has already moved on to 14G FDR QSFP+ while traditional Data Centers are sticking with 10G QSFP+ formats.  Other protocols with potential AOC opportunities, such as SAS, Fibre Channel and PCI Express remain potential markets as their data rates pass 10G.

The advent of Big Data, or rather Big Analytics, have moved HPC clusters beyond the supercomputing research centers 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 centers in a meaningful way. 

Lastly, Video and Consumer AOCs using Thunderbolt, HDMI, and USB protocols are gaining players. We were surprised that Corning jumped in to the mix.  Unfortunately, the “optical Thunderbolt factor” is still undetermined and it will take some time to realize its affect on this market segment.

More and more protocols are moving to higher line rates where copper links start to have “issues” with reach and EMI and where AOCs offer strong benefits of high data rate, long reach and low price.  This is fueling the AOC business, and in turn, facilitating segment growth. In the end, we see significant growth and spreading within all facets of the high-speed interconnect market.

Data on AOC sales was provided for this report by leading manufacturers including Avago, Emcore, FCI, Finisar, Sumitomo, and TE Connectivity. More information on the Active Optical Cables Report is available at:

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About LightCounting Market Research

LightCounting is a leading optical communications market research company, offering semiannual market update, forecast, and state of the industry reports based on analysis of publicly available information and confidential data provided by more 20 leading module and component vendors. LightCounting is the optical communications market’s source for accurate, detailed, and relevant information necessary for doing business in today’s highly competitive market environment. Privately held, LightCounting is headquartered in Eugene, Oregon. For more information, go to, or follow us on Twitter at