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January 14, 2011

The Transition of ATCA to 40G

By Stefanie Mosca, TMCnet Web Editor

ATCA, also known as Advanced Telecommunications Computing Architecture, is a modular computing standard that helps make some of the most innovative next-generation technology happen. Today, ATCA-based products are pushing the boundaries of cutting-edge, carrier-grade technology.

This series of specifications incorporates the latest trends in high speed interconnect technologies, next generation processors, and improved Reliability, Availability, and Serviceability (RAS). ATCA is the largest specification effort in the PCI Industrial Computer Manufacturer’s Group’s (PICMG (News - Alert)) history, with more than 100 companies participating.

According to an article by Gene Juknevicius of GE Intelligent Platforms (News - Alert), ATCA’s are moving toward 40 Gigabit Ethernet and in order to transition, the backplane, connector and hub blade are must-haves along with packet processing blades and other payload blades that will help capitalize the conversion.

Juknevicius says that they key is getting these architecture elements together. The PICMG 3.0 AdvancedTCA (News - Alert) specification defines board-to-backplane connectivity in terms of channels. Each channel consists of eight differential pairs, four for transmit and four for receive. This channel definition nicely accommodates the 10/100/1000BASE-T interface used for the Base Channel. In the case of a 10G Fabric Channel, XAUI (also known as 10GBASE-KX4) four lanes in parallel operating at 3.125 GHz each are utilized.

He continues that four lanes operating at 10G each will supply the necessary bandwidth for transitioning to 40G interconnect. IEEE’s (News - Alert) timing was perfect: This past summer, it released the IEEE 802.3ba specification in which 10GBASE-KR and 40GBASE-KR4 interfaces are defined. 40GBASE-KR4 is defined to reach 1 metre on the backplane, positioning it for AdvancedTCA backplane connectivity.

RadiSys (News - Alert) provider of innovative hardware and software platforms for next generation IP-based wireless, wireline and video networks and ATCA solutions, had a number of accomplishments in 2010. To learn more about ATCA this past year, read the 2010 ATCA Year in Review.

Stefanie Mosca is a Web editor for TMCnet. Previously she worked as a freelance copy editor for Digital Surgeons LLC. She holds a master's degree in journalism from Quinnipiac University and a bachelor's degree in communication from the University of New Haven. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Stefanie Mosca

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