Active Optical Cable Markets and Opportunities: 2014 to 2022: Volume II – Personal Computing, Consumer Electronics and Digital Signage Markets

Report # CIR-AOC-V2-0514
Published May 19, 2014

CIR has been providing market coverage of Active Optical Cables (AOCs) for six years, as this market has continued to grow and attract new entrants, including some of the world’s biggest suppliers of cabling and telecom components.  Our annual report on this topic is widely regarded as the most authoritative market forecast and technology assessment in the AOC space and is read by business development and marketing executives in cabling, component and equipment firms throughout the world.

This year, CIR has decided to split our report into two volumes. Data centers account for most of today’s revenues in the AOC space and we cover the data center in Volume I.  However, in this volume – Volume II – we examine the market potential for AOCs outside the data center, especially in consumer electronics, personal computing and digital signage.

Already, today AOCs are used as extenders in certain video environments and they have also been adopted for digital signage to a limited extent.  But that’s about it.  So, the goal of this report is to show how the AOC market will be able to further penetrate non-conventional markets and the economic and technological trends that are making it possible. The report is primarily focused on business strategy; analyzing those market sectors in which AOCs may some day find a mass market.

In a few years, these sectors may overtake the data center AOC market. However, the business and technical characteristics, as well as the acceptable price points for AOCs sold into these emerging markets will be quite different from those that are standard for data center AOCs.  With this in mind, this report examines what it will take to be successful in the market for AOCs outside the data center. In particular, this report will answer the following questions:

  • Outside of the data center, will applications use existing Ethernet AOCs or will special consumer and “prosumer” AOCs emerge?
  • How will the AOCs of the future coexist with ubiquitous consumers electronics connectivity standards such as USB and HDMI?
  • What cable lengths and price points are appropriate to AOC markets outside of the data center?
  • How will the supplier marketing and branding evolve for AOCs outside of the data center?
  • What will be the involvement of consumer electronics retailers and systems integrators in the new AOC markets?  What new alliances will be formed?  And how will new Chinese suppliers become involved in this sector of the AOC market?

The report also includes granular five-year forecasts of AOCs in the data center with appropriate breakouts by data rate, standards, cable type, reach, wavelength and form factor.

The reports also examines how macro-trends such the shift towards home video production, ultra-high definition TV and digital signage will create new opportunities for AOC firms. CIR anticipates that this report will be a high value resource for marketing and business development managers in the components, cable, consumer electronics and personal electronics firms as well as at the AOC firms themselves.


Executive Summary

  • E.1 Preamble
  • E.2 The AOC Value Proposition for Non-Data Center Applications
  • E.3 Opportunities for AOCs in the Consumer Electronics Sector
  • E.3.1 Data Rate Requirements
  • E.3.2 The Ongoing Threat of Copper
  • E.4 Opportunities for AOCs in the Personal Computing Sector
  • E.4.1 Thunderbolt and AOCs
  • E.4.2 Possible Uses for AOCs in LAN-on-Motherboard (LOM) Applications
  • E.4.3 AOCs for Board-to-Board Communications
  • E.4.4 End-User Markets that Might Use AOCs in Personal Computing
  • E.5 Opportunities for AOCs in Digital Signage
  • E.5.1 Possible Roles for AOCs in Digital Signage
  • E.6 Industry Structure and Firms to Watch
  • E.6.1 Evolution of Chinese AOC Supply
  • E.6.2 More Interest in Non-Data Center AOCs from Major Firms
  • E.6.3 Other Firms to Watch
  • E.6.4 Smaller Firms and the Potential for Start-Ups in the AOC Space
  • E.7 Product Differentiation and Pricing in the Non-Data Center AOC Market
  • E.7.1 Branding AOCs for Consumer and Related Markets
  • E.7.2 AOC Supply Chains for Consumer and Related Markets
  • E.8 Summary of Ten-Year Forecasts for Non-Data Center Optical Cabling Markets
Chapter One: Introduction
  • 1.1 Background to this Report
  • 1.1.1 AOCs Outside the Data Center: Market Potential?
  • 1.1.2 Three Reasons for Caution in the Non-Data Center AOC Market
  • 1.1.3 Product Differentiation and Pricing in the Non-Data Center AOC Market
  • 1.2 Objectives of this Report
  • 1.3 Scope of this Report
  • 1.4 Plan of this Report
Chapter Two: Consumer Electronics
  • 2.1 Addressable Markets for AOCs in the Consumer Electronics Sector?
  • 2.1.1 3D, UHDTV and What it Might Mean for AOCs
  • 2.2 Home Video Production and Editing and Residential Fiber Networks
  • 2.2.1 AOC versus USB
  • 2.2.2 USB 3.1 as a Challenge to AOCs
  • 2.2.3 Optical USB
  • 2.3 AOCs and HDMI?
  • 2.3.1 Fiber Optics, AOCs and HDMI Extenders
  • 2.3.2 Current Products and Suppliers
  • 2.4 A Note on AOCs and DVI?
  • 2.5 Active Optical Cabling and DisplayPort
  • 2.5.1 Suppliers of AOCs for DisplayPort Applications
  • 2.6 Ten-Year Forecasts of AOCs in Consumer Electronics Markets
  • 2.6.1 Forecast by Application: Home Theaters/Video Editing
  • 2.6.2 Forecast by Protocol/Interface Standard?
  • 2.6.3 Forecast by Cable Length
  • 2.6.4 Forecast by Cable Type and Wavelength
  • 2.7 Key Points Made in this Chapter
Chapter Three: Active Optical Markets: PCs and Other Computer Applications
  • 3.1 Key Trends in Personal Computing Impacting the AOC Market
  • 3.1.1 A Note on Clouds and AOCs
  • 3.1.2 The PC Community’s Many Interconnect Options: Why AOCs?
  • 3.1.3 Thunderbolt
  • 3.2 Other Addressable Market Segments for Active Optical Cables in the Personal Computer Sector
  • 3.2.1 Possible Uses for AOCs in LAN-On Motherboard (LOM) Applications
  • 3.2.2 Active Optical Cabling for Board-to-Board Communications
  • 3.3 Thoughts on PCIe
  • 3.4 Bringing AOCs into the PC Mainstream; Thoughts from the PC Industry Perspective
  • 3.4.1 The Upside and Downside of AOCs in the PC Market
  • 3.4.2 AOCs in the PC Supply Chain
  • 3.5 Summary of Key Points Made in this Chapter
Chapter Four: Digital Signage
  • 4.1 Evolution of the Digital Signage Market
  • 4.1.1 A Note on LED Matrix Displays
  • 4.1.2 Limits of Other Display Technologies
  • 4.2 Networking and the Need for AOCs in Digital Signage
  • 4.2.1 AOC and Fiber Use in Digital Signage
  • 4.3 AOC Marketing in the Digital Signage Market
  • 4.3.1 Messaging and Alliances
  • 4.3.2 Geography and Market Characteristics
  • 4.4 Ten-Year Forecasts of AOCs in the Digital Signage Sector
  • 4.4.1 Forecast by Cable Length
  • 4.4.2 Forecast by Cable Type and Wavelength
  • 4.5 Key Points Made in this Chapter
Chapter Five: Summary of Ten-Year Forecasts of Non-Data Center AOCs
  • 5.1 Forecast of Active Optical Cabling by End-User Market
  • 5.1.1 Digital Signage
  • 5.1.2 PC Interconnect Applications for AOCs
  • 5.1.3 Home Theater Applications for AOCs
  • 5.2 Forecast of Active Optical Cabling by Protocol
  • 5.2.1 Consumer Applications
  • 5.2.2 Digital Signage
  • 5.3 Forecast of Active Optical Cabling by Length of Cable Used
  • 5.3.1 Digital Signage and Cable Length
  • 5.4 Summary of AOC Forecasts by Cable Type and Wavelength Supported
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