Cosemi Launches USB 3.1 Gen 2 Hybrid Active Optical Cable

@ 2019/02/13
Cosemi has introduced the industry’s first USB 3.1 Gen 2 hybrid active optical cables (hAOC), which enable USB connectivity over distances upwards of 50 meters. The cables will be available with various connectors and therefore will be able to address various applications.

As you might guess from the name, Cosemi’s USB 3.1 Gen 2 hybrid active optical cables use fiber optics for data transfers, which is further paired with copper wires for control and power. The data portion of the cable is fully USB SuperSpeed+ capable, meaning it can transfer 10Gbps in each direction. Notable, since hAOCs can power themselves, unlike other solutions they do not need any extension boxes or repeaters, making them simpler and more reliable. Using fiber for the data channel also means that the cables are more resistant against EM and RF interference, which is particularly important for medical applications.

The manufacturer plans to offer hAOCs with various types of connectors, including USB Type-A to USB Type-A, USB Type-A to USB Type-C, as well as USB Type-C to USB Type-C, with A-to-C cables being the first type out the door. And while the cables are best geared for high bandwidth applications, like copper USB 3.1 Gen 2 cables, the hybrid active optical cables are backwards compatible with the USB 2.0 spec.

Last but not least, it's interesting to note that Cosemi’s hAOCs do not use PVC. As it turns out, this is a requirement for in-wall cables in the Americas, EMEA and Asia, as PVC produces toxic smoke when it burns.

Cosemi’s USB 3.1 Gen 2 hybrid active optical cables are sampling today, and mass production is set to start in March. The devices will be available later this year from various Cosemi’s partners, including Amazon, Liberty AV Solutions, and other. The manufacturer is not setting an MSRP quite yet, but tells us to expect them to be “competitive to USB extension box solutions.”

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