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Simon Stanley
Heavy Lifting Analyst Notes
Simon Stanley

Advanced Telecom Computing Architecture (ATCA) remains the leading carrier-grade commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) platform, driven by 4G and 3G wireless infrastructure.

The 4G Enhanced Packet Core (EPC), required to support LTE, and IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS), required to support voice over LTE (VoLTE), are now leading applications for ATCA. Other leading applications for ATCA are 3G SGSN/GGSN, media gateways and application servers. A significant number of telecom equipment manufacturers are also using ATCA to support SDN and NFV.

These are some of the many key findings in the latest issue of Heavy Reading Components Insider, "COTS & ATCA: 2014 User Survey," based on an exclusive worldwide survey that drew responses from 110 telecom industry professionals, representing 75 different equipment vendors and system manufacturers.

The report covers the use of carrier-grade COTS platforms, providing a unique insight into the state of the market. The report includes information on which vendors are used for system integration, ATCA chassis, ATCA blades and Advanced Mezzanine Cards (AMCs), the use of in-house and COTS blades, and interest in planned ATCA enhancements. The report also includes several charts that compare results across four surveys spanning nine years, from 2005 to 2014, providing valuable trend data.

The leading carrier-grade COTS platforms are ATCA and rack-mount servers. ATCA is a carrier-grade platform for computing and telecom applications. An ATCA chassis will support between two and 16 blades. High availability for carrier-grade applications is supported using shelf managers to control redundant systems for shelf management, switching, power and cooling. Carrier-grade, rack-mount servers provide a cost effective alternative to ATCA platforms for small systems. The latest rack-mount servers integrate high availability functionality based on technology developed for ATCA. Other carrier-grade COTS platforms include blade servers and MicroTCA. HP and IBM are the leading vendors for blade servers.

Companies using ATCA platforms can develop the complete system in-house, integrate COTS blades and chassis from ecosystems suppliers or work with a systems integrator that will supply the complete platform. The leading systems integrators used by companies covered in the survey include HP, Advantech Co. Ltd., Artesyn Embedded Technologies Inc., Kontron AG and RadiSys Corp.

ATCA continues to be developed. Most system integrators are shipping platforms with 40GigE switching and up to 400W per blade power and cooling. The results of the survey covered in the report show that there is significant interest in further ATCA enhancements, including 100GigE switching, greater power per slot and increased processor density with back-to-back sub-racks.

More companies are using COTS than in-house ATCA blades. Most of these blades are supplied by system integrators. ATCA chassis are supplied by specialist chassis suppliers or system integrators. ATCA chassis suppliers include Asis-Pro Ltd., Comtel Electronics GmbH, Elma Electronic AG, Pixus Technologies Inc. and Schroff, a brand of Pentair Inc.

AMCs are small modules that can be used to add functionality to ATCA blades or other systems. The leading vendors for AMC modules include Adlink Technology Inc., Creative Electronic Systems S.A. (CES), Interphase Corp. and SANBlaze Technology Inc.

MicroTCA systems are built using AMC modules and are used by approximately 15% of the companies covered in the survey. The leading applications for MicroTCA are wireless basestations and 3G and 4G wireless infrastructure.

ATCA continues to be the leading carrier-grade COTS platforms. The rapid rollout of LTE services by mobile operators is driving demand for ATCA-based systems that are used to support the EPC, IMS and many related applications, including media gateways and application servers. The expected shift to SDN and NFV for many applications, including wireless infrastructure, may reduce future demand for ATCA. The fact that a significant number of vendors are already using ATCA to implement SDN and NFV and the development of ATCA enhancements, including 100GigE, suggest there will be a continuing role for ATCA in large telecom systems. For smaller telecom systems, it is likely that the carrier-grade rack-mount server will continue to grow in popularity.

— Simon Stanley, Analyst, Heavy Reading Components Insider

This report, COTS & ATCA: 2014 User Survey, is available for $1,595. For more information, please visit:

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User Rank: Blogger
6/26/2014 | 1:39:17 PM
Re: ATCA for LTE and EPC
The report is based on a survey of what companies are using. The survey also showed that a significant number of companies are using ATCA for SDN/NFV as you suggest. I have not yet seen a public comparison of cost between carrier grade RMS and 2u ATCA systems. Please let me know if I have missed something.
User Rank: Light Beer
6/26/2014 | 1:13:08 PM
ATCA for LTE and EPC
While RMS' may be the current trend, ATCA offers unmatched scalbility and flexibilty for emerging NFV devices. An Adax-equipped 2U ATCA chassis can deliver 320Gbps of I/O for EPC dataplane, security and Internet traffic, all with the benefits of ATCA control and management. Today's ATCA offerings are truly cost competitive with RMS'.

Drew Sproul, Director of Marketing, Adax Inc.
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