CIR forecasts 'realistic' market expansion for AOCs

SEPTEMBER 24, 2009 -- The analyst firm says the market will be driven by a "massive" expansion in port counts in large corporate and government data centers and especially public peering data centers.

SEPTEMBER 24, 2009 -- Industry analyst firm CIR has published an assessment of the active optical cabling (AOC) sector. The new report, "Active Optical Cabling: A Technology Assessment and Market Forecast," includes a forecast of the market for AOCs in data center, PC interconnect, digital signage, and home entertainment markets, as well as an assessment of the AOC strategies of leading transceiver and cabling companies.

While CIR believes that some analysts have exaggerated the likely revenues, the firm still expects the market for AOCs will reach $720 million by 2012 and expand to $1.5 billion by 2014.

According to the report, data center applications will dominate the AOC business with revenues reaching $835 million by 2014. Replacement of bulky copper InfiniBand cable will be an early revenue generator for AOCs, but the market will also be driven by a "massive" expansion in port counts in large corporate and government data centers and especially public peering data centers such as those run by Google and YouTube. Such centers are demanding 10-Gbps port densities that were achievable only at 1-Gbps levels three years ago.

Home theater sales of AOCs will remain a niche market and limited to expensive cables sold to "videophiles," says CIR. However, another video-related AOC application -- digital signage -- has considerable potential because the installed base of digital signage has grown by an order of magnitude in the past few years. The need for high-bandwidth cabling for digital signage is driven by the advertising industry's desire to support 1080p resolution in an outdoor HDMI environment, and 1920 x 1200 for DVI, the firm reports. For some AOC vendors, digital signage is currently the largest sector they serve, and by 2014 the digital signage market is expected to reach almost $450 million.

Although OEMs are conservative when adopting new cabling and interface technologies, the new CIR report claims that from the point of view of ease of use, AOCs are a "no-brainer" for short-haul PC interconnect applications. It notes that there are several areas where AOCs should sell especially well including the professional video-processing industry, factory-floor networks, military and aerospace applications, and LAN-on-motherboard applications. The overall market for AOCs in the PC interconnect market is expected to reach $220 million by 2014.

"Active Optical Cabling: A Technology Assessment and Market Forecast" provides CIR's assessment of the market with forecasts expressed in volume and value terms for AOC sales. The report also profiles and assesses the product/market strategies of all firms currently marketing or planning to market AOCs, as well as assessing the implications of the new AOC technology for OEMs and chip companies.

Companies mentioned in the report include Ace Plus, Alcatel-Lucent, Alight, AppliedMicro, Avago, Cisco, Corning, Dell, Emcore, Ericsson, Eudyna, Finisar, Firecomms, Freescale, Gevista, HP, Intel, JDSU, Lightwire, Luxtera, Mellanox, MergeOptics, Molex, Oclaro, Opticom, Opticis, Reflex Photonics, Samsung, Silicon Image, SmartAVI, Sumitomo, Sun, Teranetics, TriQuint, Tyco, VI Systems, Vitesse, W.L. Gore, and Zarlink.

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