New CIR Report States that Sales of Active Optical Cables for the Data Center To Reach $1.5 billion

Charlottesville, Virginia:  According to a new report from Communications Industry Researchers, sales of active optical cables (AOCs) for the data center will produce $1.5 billion in revenues by 2019.  The report “Active Optical Cable Markets – Data Center Applications,” is part of a two-volume set.  CIR has also recently published an analysis and forecast of the market for AOCs for applications in personal computing, consumer electronics and digital signage.

More details about this report can be found at:

About the report:

This report identifies and quantifies opportunities for selling AOCs for the data center.  AOCs in this sector carry Ethernet, InfiniBand (IB), Fibre Channel and SAS.   Specifically, the report provides coverage on AOCs supporting the CX4, SFP/SFP+, QSFP, CXP, CFP, CDFP, and SAS/Min-SAS MSAs.  In addition, the report provides detailed nine-year forecasts of data center AOC markets, with breakouts by end-user application, interface standard, cable lengths, type of cable and wavelength.  Forecasts are provided in units shipped and revenue terms.

This new CIR study also assesses the product/market strategies of the leading AOC suppliers including: 3M, 10GTEK, A3CUBE, Amphenol, Avago, Brocade, Centera Photonics, ConnPro, Eoptolink, FCI, Fiberon, Finisar, Fujikura, Gigalight, Fujitsu, Hitachi Cable, IBM, InnoLight, JDSU, Juniper Networks, Luxtera, Mellanox, Molex, Multilane, Samtec, Siemon, Sopto, Sumitomo, TE Connectivity, Volex

From the report:

Data centers are getting bigger and are requiring much higher data-rate pipes and interconnects than ever before. Mobile broadband and video applications are flooding data centers with content and this creates a growing incentive to shift to fiber in at least part of the data center. It is becoming increasingly difficult for data center managers to avoid fiber optics and at the same time AOCs offer an excellent entry point for fiber optics to all but the most structured-cabling savvy network managers.

Chinese AOC suppliers are showing that they can compete with the best U.S., European and Japanese AOC suppliers.  They are now able to supply 40 Gbps cables with ease and a few are offering 100-Gbps AOCs. A few years back CIR would have seen the whole optical engine concept as beyond the capabilities of Chinese suppliers. But today Gigalight is using optical engines as the basis for its optical data center products, and other Chinese firms are expected to follow suit.

The Chinese AOC challenge will require a strategic response from established AOC firms.  This could take the form of better branding, improved supply chains or upgraded products.  For example, the TE Connectivity line was upgraded in 2011 with 40-Gbps products that offered reduced power consumption and lighter-weight cables and other leading AOC firms will follow suit.

We also expect to see more activity in AOCs that use the highest-performance modules.  Such AOCs are not easy to make and this presents barriers to entry into the data center markets for smaller, less able AOC firms; providing market protection for the largest suppliers.  The markets for such high-end AOCs are also not inconsiderable. CFP and CDFP together are expected to generate $190 million in revenues by 2019. Indeed, we think that the proverbial “next big thing” in the AOC space will be CDFP AOCs and expect to see such products prominently displayed at the OFC, ECOC and SC trade shows in 2015.  For now, the three companies to watch in this space are Finisar, Molex and TE Connectivity, all of which have already introduced CDFP AOCs.

Nonetheless, throughout the period considered in this report, the “workhorse” QSFP and CXP AOCs will be the biggest revenue earners, with combined sales of $1.3 billion in 2019.  These MSAs support both the Ethernet and IB protocols that are core to any data center and at data rates that are likely to be the ones most used in data centers over the next decade. The earliest QSFP AOCs catered to the 10-Gbps market, but the QSFP AOC business is now centered around the 40-Gbps opportunity. CXP can support 100 GigE or three 40-GigE channels. At this point almost every firm offering a range of AOCs includes CXP options.

About CIR:

Communications Industry Researchers has been publishing hype-free industry analysis for the optical networking industry for almost 25 years.  We have provided market coverage of Active Optical Cables (AOCs) for six years. Our annual reports on this topic are widely regarded as the most authoritative market forecast and technology assessment in the AOC space.

Visit for a full listing of CIR’s reports and other services.

Media Contact:

Robert Nolan
(804) 938-0030

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