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AOC vs. DAC Cables

In recent years, with the arrival of high density data centers, Active Optical Cables (AOC) and Direct Attach Cables (DAC) have been gaining in popularity and use as a cost effective way to connect different hardware devises within the data center. In this blog, we look at the differences between these two types of cable assemblies.

AOC vs. DAC: Composition

Both types of cables offer an alternative to purchasing individual optical transceivers and cables separately. DACs feature copper cable connecting two fixed transceiver modules at either end of the cable. As for AOCs, the connection between the two transceivers at either end is maintained using multimode fiber.

AOC vs. DAC: Characteristics

Cost: From a cost perspective, DACs tend to be lower when compared to AOCs mostly due to the fact that there are no optical components in a DAC assembly as the transmission is electrical over copper cable. By comparison, AOCs are slightly more expensive as they use fiber and other optical components.

Reach: With the use of fiber and optical components, AOCs can achieve greater reach relative to DACs and can run up to maximum standard length of 50 meters. As for DACs, the maximum length is 10 meters and this is due to the electrical signals becoming susceptible to interference and attenuation over longer distances.

Durability: AOCs are much lighter than DACs which sometimes makes them more susceptible to damage if not handled correctly which means that DACs can be considered more sturdy and durable.

Compatibility: Ensuring that the host device is compatible with the DAC or AOC you intend to use is a key factor also in the decision of which kind of cable to use.

AOC vs. DAC: Which one to pick?

The answer to this question really depends on the application for which the cable is intended. In most data centers you will find both kinds of cables used. At Gigoptics, we offer a wide range of AOC and DAC cables; all tested to ensure quality and reliability. For more information, contact us at

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