Connector makers keen to tap high-speed data transmission demand amid AI server boom

Ninelu Tu, Taipei; Willis Ke, DIGITIMES Asia 0


In an era of unprecedented data growth driven by devices ranging from notebooks to AI servers, the demand for high-speed data transmission at both the equipment and user ends continues to surge. Dedicated connector and cable manufacturers, including Foxlink, Bizlink, Lintes Technology, Nextronics Engineering, Alltop Technology, and JPC Connectivity are all swiftly responding to this market demand with innovative solutions, aiming to seize new business opportunities.

This heightened demand is primarily attributed to the dominance of AI servers, which place a strong emphasis on high-frequency, high-speed data transmission for applications like AI and machine learning, according to industry experts. They noted, however, that other applications like Industry 4.0, production smartification, and autonomous driving have also joined forces to create a multifaceted demand for data that spans various applications, not only in quantity but also in the forms of data, including high-quality images.

High-frequency, high-speed transmission has always been the established development direction for connector and cable manufacturers. Some are even venturing into automotive-related areas, notably electric vehicle charging connectors, where high-frequency, high-speed, and high-voltage requirements converge.

However, these three requirements cannot be achieved through improving individual components or technologies. Instead, they necessitate the collaboration of a complete ecosystem from upstream to downstream. Connector manufacturers emphasized that to increase transmission speed and maintain transmission quality, it is necessary to enhance chip and specification interfaces and to upgrade CCL materials at the PCB end. .

In tandem with increasing transmission speeds, power demands also escalate, and materials selection and heat dissipation technology will become crucial factors in industry competitiveness. To maintain pace with evolving customer requirements and shrinking development cycles, some industry players are actively collaborating with customers to develop transmission specifications for the next 1-2 generations, according to industry insiders.

In this evolving landscape, connector manufacturers believe that the key to market growth hinges on market adoption and procurement willingness. A prime example is Intel's investment in Thunderbolt technology, which witnessed substantial penetration only after it became compatible with USB.

While the server and data center market has driven the demand for optical communication and triggered discussions around silicon photonics technology, practical needs and cost considerations will ultimately determine market segmentation decisions, industry insiders said.

Connector manufacturers also asserted that with the ongoing increase in network speeds and data traffic, the future is undoubtedly moving toward higher-frequency and higher-speed specifications. To thrive in this changing environment, manufacturers must continue their pursuit of technological advancement, quality enhancement, and production capacity expansion. However, an ecosystem-centric perspective is indispensable for them to more precisely harness market trends and development opportunities.