ATCA Finds More Friends

CHICAGO – Supercomm 2004 – Advanced Telecom Computing Architecture got a nice boost from OEMs this week, as Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. and KT Corp. both pledged support for the set of specifications (see Huawei, Korea Telecom Adopt ATCA).

"We will try to use ATCA in all our products," says Edward Lin, executive VP of Huawei subsidiary FutureWei. "We have seven product lines, and the strategy is to share a platform for all of them."

The announcements were made through Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC), which is a supplier to both OEMs. Intel has been among the largest supporters of ATCA -- not surprising, considering ATCA mimics the kind of movement that allows the company to rule the personal computer world.

Past attempts at telecom standards have fallen on deaf ears. But after the downturn, with equipment vendors laying off substantial numbers of engineers, the headstart promised by standard hardware is more attractive. "Of the ten Tier 1s, nine -- not Cisco -- are talking about ATCA," says Gilles Garcia, strategic marketing manager for Applied Micro Circuits Corp. (AMCC) (Nasdaq: AMCC).

Codified as the PCI Industrial Computer Manufacturers Group (PICMG) 3.x set of specifications, ATCA defines an open architecture for building telecom gear. If successful, ATCA could be a breakthrough for chip vendors that have waited for telecom to adopt off-the-shelf hardware, be it network processors or entire standardized boards (see AdvancedTCA Makes Headway). ATCA got a show of support with a cluster of Supercomm demos this week, but of course the concept needs OEM customers if it's going to fly.

The central ATCA specification, PICMG 3.0, was ratified more than a year ago and provides the overall template for a serial backplane. The other 3.x specifications address specific backplane protocols.

— Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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