ATCA's little-brother offshoot could make a big splash, according to the latest Components Insider report

Craig Matsumoto, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

May 23, 2006

2 Min Read
Report: MicroTCA Could Be Macro

The accelerated buildout of advanced access networks -- and the smaller, cheaper systems they require -- should get a boost from the smaller version of the Advanced Telecom Computing Architecture (AdvancedTCA) standards, according to Light Reading's latest Components Insider, "MicroTCA and AdvancedMC: Small Wonders."

In fact, it's MicroTCA that could turn out to be the real boon for equipment vendors, the report says.

"As more telecom OEMs select MicroTCA as the platform of choice for smaller systems and the use of MicroTCA in these wider markets takes off, MicroTCA will likely turn out to be a more important platform than ATCA," writes Simon Stanley of Earlswood Marketing Ltd. , author of the report. (See MicroTCA Looks Like a Winner and MicroTCA Boosts Market.)

ATCA is a set of standards for telecom equipment, crafted by the PCI Industrial Computer Manufacturers Group (PICMG) to provide a common foundation that would save vendors time in designing new boxes. The idea has been pushed heavily by the chip industry -- which stands to gain as telecom gear adopts more off-the-shelf pieces -- and by embedded-computer manufacturers such as Mercury Computer Systems Inc. and Motorola Computer Group . (See ATCA Initiates Launch Sequence and Moto Packs MicroTCA.)

MicroTCA is a smaller, cheaper offshoot of ATCA, intended for cases where full-blown ATCA would be overkill, and it makes heavy use of the advanced mezzanine card (AMC), a standard module designed for ATCA. AMCs have flexible interconnects and are intended to be hot-swappable, making them a nice fit for the smaller, cheaper boxes that would use MicroTCA.

WiMax is among the areas likely to benefit from MicroTCA. "WiMax systems require high availability with hot-swappable modules, extended temperature range, and a cost-effective solution. MicroTCA can meet all these requirements," Stanley writes. IP PBXs, cellular base stations, and DSLAMs are likely targets as well.

MicroTCA remains a work in progress, but as happens with many standards, some companies have embraced the idea and already are preparing products; Stanley's report covers 14 vendors and makes note of 40 announced AMC designs.

"Assuming this spec is ratified, as expected, in June or July 2006, several vendors will be introducing production MicroTCA systems early in 2007," Stanley writes.

MicroTCA might even have uses outside telecom. Stanley thinks the use of MicroTCA in WiMax equipment "will open up new opportunities for MicroTCA in applications such as radar and image processing."

— Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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About the Author(s)

Craig Matsumoto

Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

Yes, THAT Craig Matsumoto – who used to be at Light Reading from 2002 until 2013 and then went away and did other stuff and now HE'S BACK! As Editor-in-Chief. Go Craig!!

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