Let the Connection Begin! Upgrading with AOC’s and DAC’s

Did you know Integra’s mission is to provide you the highest quality optics with exceptionally fast delivery? We work hard to exceed the OEM specifications and capabilities on a daily basis. The best part of Integra’s optics is that they don’t impact your platform warranties and all our transceivers carry a lifetime warranty of their own! However, did you know that Integra has a complete line of Attached Transceiver products as well?

For those in a hurry, Integra has a full catalog of active and passive DACs and AOCs that can increase your connectivity in a budget-friendly way. They offer speeds up to 400G and provide other options you just can’t get from the OEMs.

Different Types of Attached Device Cables – A Quick Refresher

Just in case you’re a bit unsure about the differences between the attached transceiver varieties, let’s review the types:

Direct Attach Copper Cables or, DAC Cables: These come in two styles, passive and active. Both work by connecting the electrical ports of one router or switch to another router or switch. Without some form of signal grooming, these connections would max out at a couple of inches. The less expensive passive DACs leave that signal preparation to the network device, which takes care of amplification and compensates for delay and phase shifting over the length. A less expensive cable in a more expensive network device has a maximum length of about 7 meters.

Active DACs: If the switch/router doesn’t support passive DACs, then an active DAC with amplification and signal processing electronics is called for. These function more like normal transceivers to the networking components and can make connections up to 15 meters that don’t require the electrical to optical conversion. They cost a bit more, but the network they connect to can cost less.

Active Optical Cables or, AOCs: What happens when you need connections that exceed the 15m limit? That’s where Active Optical Cables (AOCs) come in. While AOCs are more expensive than DACs, they are still less expensive than two transceivers and a connecting fiber. Funny enough, that’s pretty much just what they are! They get cost savings by not having to comply with laser class restrictions and by being built only to meet the distance they need to go instead of the maximum distance the spec allows.

All three of these types have individual strengths as well as general perks. There are never any fibers to clean, no contaminated optical endfaces, low power consumption, break-out options, and ore that we’ll discuss in a few seconds.

The Strengths of Cabled Transceivers

Many of the network equipment manufacturers provide DAC and AOC options as well. They offer a set assortment of distances, interfaces, data rates, and breakouts, which are used for stacking Top of Rack (ToR) and End of Row (EoR) connections. However, what they don’t offer are custom lengths and cables that work across multivendor links. With a custom solution, the length is just right, and you can have a Cisco switch with a breakout that connects to Juniper, Brocade, Alcatel, and an MSA white-box device. Each end is recodable to a new platform if your network equipment gets upgraded.

These are compelling in environments where you have an infrastructure plan. They do take a little more effort than normal fiber jumpers to run so “temporary” or emergency connections might not be the best fit. In outfitting or expanding a datacenter or connecting more distribution equipment, these can really shine with savings and reliability.

The Need for Speed

 DACs and AOCs come in all kinds of lengths, data rates, and breakouts.

As for breakouts, there are so many options. 40G can break out into 4x10G, 100G can break out into 4x25G, 200G can break out into 2x100G or 4x50G… whatever your supported formats and needs demand. There are even options that are attached only at one side are available!

Thinking of the right connectivity comes down to two choices. First, “Should you go with standard transceivers or cabled transceivers?” If you’re doing local runs of under 100 meters, and if those runs are easy to determine lengths and are permanent, then the energy and cost savings of going with cabled transceivers is compelling. The second question is easier, “Should I go with OEM cabled transceivers or Integra Optics?”

With the ability to request custom lengths, the advantage of being able to recode each interface to work with the platforms of your choosing, and the savings you see when purchasing parts that are guaranteed to meet or exceed the OEM offering… is it really a tough question? Integra Optics has a lifetime warranty on all our transceivers and adding them to your networks doesn’t void your platform warrantees!