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Exceptional performance. Low power consumption. Low cost. And a variety of end uses and applications.

Active Optical Cables, or AOCs, have largely replaced copper wires to transmit data and signals in a variety of industries and applications. In this post, we’ll cover everything you need to know about Active Optical Cables, the advantages they hold over copper cables, their end uses, their interfaces, and more. Read on for more information about Active Optical Cables.

What Are Active Optical Cables?

active optical cable

Active Optical Cables, or AOCs, are a cabling technology that uses fiber rather than copper between the connectors to help improve performance and high-speed transmission.

AOCs are commonly used in applications including digital signage, home theaters, security systems, projectors, game consoles, home DVRs, as well as industries such as medical, aerospace, and testing companies. AOC cables were made primarily to replace the heavier, bulkier copper cable and help offset its other shortcomings.

 The Active Optical Cables Difference

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As we noted above, Active Optical Cable Assemblies were primarily created as an alternative to the copper cable, notably as it pertains to data centers where copper’s bulky, heavy makeup made it more difficult to manage and electromagnetic interference had a tendency to hamper performance.

 There are a variety of other benefits to using Active Optical Cables, which include:

  • Active, not passive, operation.
  • Uses fiber, not copper: This characteristic alone is an important one, so it’s worth discussing in greater detail here. Fiber helps ensure a strong, high-speed signal. It also helps ensure slim, compact makeup. For example, a fiber wire is usually only about 4.5 mm, while a copper wire can range from 8.5 to 9.3 mm in size.
  • AOCs require fewer conductor points. For example, with an HDMI connector, copper requires 19 conductors, while AOCs only need 7. This characteristic helps contribute to the slimmer overall makeup of an AOC.
  • AOCs have a smaller bend radius than copper cables.
  • AOCs can transmit a signal up to 100 meters, making for long-distance transmission.
  • AOCs are easy to install, use minimal power, and are light in weight.
  • AOCs are also more durable than copper; additionally, they also come in an armored version which provides even more protection in more demanding environments.

What Are These Cables Made For?

While AOCs were originally created to replace copper cables in data centers, their uses have extended to other applications.

Some of the common places where you’ll find Active Optical Cables include:

  • High bandwidth networks
  • High-performance computing centers
  • Digital signatures
  • Consumer electronics
  • Cloud-based applications
  • A/V services
  • Online gaming
  • CATV or other platforms that require high-speed data to operate

From educational environments to smart homes to medical systems, AOCs are widespread in use.


Additional applications of Active Optical Cables include:

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  • Digital signage
  • LED signboards in pedestrian and stadium environments
  • Medical imaging equipment
  • Airplane video entertainment systems
  • Home entertainment applications (Blu-ray, projectors, DVRs, gaming consoles, computers, etc.)
  • TV broadcast stations
  • Security systems

End Interfaces

Active Optical Cable end interfaces include:

  • HDMI
  • Ethernet
  • InfiniBand
  • DisplayPort
  • USB
  • and more

Why Active Optical Cables?

So, why should you choose Active Optical Cables versus a conventional cable? To recap, AOCs are much thinner and lightweight, transmit data effectively for up to 100 meters, consume less power, and are ideal for a variety of commercial and residential applications. There are two main types of AOCs – a standard Active Optical Cable and an armored one.

Armored vs. Regular

The big difference between a standard, or non-armored, and armored AOC is that the latter consists of an outer layer of stainless steel to help protect the cable from water and other threats, thereby allowing it to operate in more demanding environments.

Armored AOCs tend to be a bit thicker than standard cables, largely because of the added protection in their outside jacket to safeguard them from the elements. However, there’s no difference in length between the two types of AOC cables.

Simply put, armored AOCs can do everything a non-armored cable can do, but while offering an additional layer of protection. In fact, armored AOCs can withstand up to seven times the force of a standard AOC, making it an ideal application in industrial or more demanding environments.

Why and When Should Active Optical Cables be Used?

From educational environments to home theaters to classified government projects, AOCs are widely used in industries and applications where high-quality, uninterrupted data transfer is necessary.

Also Read: Five things to know about Fiber Optic Cables

Contact Us Today

You can see why Active Optical Cables are in such high demand across a variety of industries and end uses today. The fiber makeup helps improve performance and data transmission, and such cables offer a variety of other benefits that have led to their widespread use in various commercial and residential applications.


For more information on Active Optical Cablescontact us today.