ATCA Ramps 40G Generation
That made wireless networks a key focus during Light Reading's xTCA & COTS Virtual Event held online Thursday.
It's not so radical an idea; vendors including ALU, NEC, and ZTE have already announced Evolved Packet Cores built from ATCA-based gear. Still, with LTE expected to create a crushing wave of data demand during the next two years, it made for a nice backdrop to a keynote from Anthony Ambrose, a vice president at Radisys Corp. (Nasdaq: RSYS).
Carriers are going to need frequent upgrades to the network, and vendors can accommodate that through the speed of ATCA-based development -- especially if another suddenly popular product like an iPhone or iPad hits the market, he said. "If you can't develop your product in less than one year, you're going to be behind people in the industry that will have this kind of capability."
The use 40-Gbit/s slots, which adds up to chassis capacity of 560 Gbit/s, could provide a bandwidth boost to help accommodate LTE needs. The technology marks the fourth generation of ATCA, following the third generation and its 10-Gbit/s slots, which came out in 2008. "We've seen most companies shift over to these third-generation platforms," said Simon Stanley of Earlswood Marketing Ltd. , who moderated every talk at the virtual conference. (See Who Makes What: ATCA, AMC & MicroTCA.)
Even though the equipment is available -- RadiSys and Emerson Electric Co. announced 40-Gbit/s platforms in October -- the PCI Industrial Computer Manufacturers Group (PICMG) standard for a 40-Gbit/s platform isn't yet complete. (PICMG is the industry group that handles ATCA standards.) (See RadiSys Launches 40-Gig ATCA and Emerson Sports 40GE ATCA .)
PICMG had hoped to ratify the standard by April but missed. Still, in a chat session in the virtual tradeshow's virtual lounge (BYOB), representatives from Continuous Computing Corp. , Kontron AG , and RadiSys agreed that the technology is in a stable enough state for products to start coming out.
Getting 40 Gbit/s per slot will almost always require a new chassis, though, because the backplane has to accommodate those speeds. In the case of ATCA, with its Ethernet backplane, that means supporting the 10GBASE-KR and 40GBASE-KR4 standards for 10- and 40-Gbit/s backplanes.
Beyond the wireless market, Ambrose thinks 40-Gbit/s optical gear might make use of ATCA as well.
"With ATCA 40 Gbit/s, I think you will see more systems crossing over to open modular platforms," Ambrose "said" in the online chat lounge. But 100 Gbit/s interfaces are "a bridge too far right now," so that equipment "will stay proprietary in this generation," he said.
An archive of the virtual event will be available starting May 11, on Light Reading's Events page.
— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading