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February 18, 2009

Crystal Cube Consulting's New MicroTCA Report

By Richard Grigonis, Executive Editor, IP Communications Group

Although, computationally, MicroTCA computing form factor falls somewhere between the early CompactPCI and super-hefty AdvancedTCA (ATCA), its diminutive size allows you to plug in up to 12 compute blades (each consuming 60 watts) on a single MicroTCA backplane.
That’s because what you’re plugging in are actually Advanced Mezzanine Card (AdvancedMC (News - Alert) or AMC) modules that normally plug into the baseboards that in turn plug into AdvancedTCA backplanes. MicroTCA, with a little backplane of its own for these plug-in cards, is sufficiently small so that systems in this form factor can support up to 48 single width, half-height AMC modules in a 19-inch rack. Thanks to its ATCA heritage, MicroTCA is no slouch when it comes to processing and throughput capability.
MicroTCA handles aggregate bandwidths of 612 Gbps in star, dual-star, and full-mesh topologies, and easily supports 12.5 Gbps per channel serial packet transport. Indeed, MicroTCA computing platforms, despite their small form factor, can support high bandwidth both in terms of compute bandwidth and communication bandwidth — to 40 Gbps and even 1 Tbps and they can be configured into High Availability (HA) scenarios. The boards communicate with each other via advanced switch fabrics such as Ethernet, PCI Express (PCIe) and RapidIO.
Moreover, PICMG ensured that much of the underlying software for MicroTCA was available off-the-shelf because of work already done to create AdvancedTCA.
And now, Crystal Cube Consulting (, otherwise known as CCC, has issued a MicroTCA report that provides a detailed worldwide five-year revenue and shipment forecast for the years 2009-2013, including the Total Available Market (TAM) base of networking equipment revenue, MicroTCA / AMC and AdvancedTCA forecast comparisons, AMC volume forecast in MicroTCA, AdvancedTCA, and proprietary platforms. CCC’s report also includes AMC module forecast by shipments, ASPs and Revenues, and high-end and low-end pricing for MicroTCA with and without populated AMC modules.
In promoting the report, Crystal Cube Consulting makes such statements as: “Emerson (News - Alert) Centellis 500COTS technology is the logical replacement to the current VME and CompactPCI platforms and MicroTCA is the vehicle to make that happen. MicroTCA has performed well in 2008 as it has seen some substantial wins which Crystal Cube Consulting believes will continue into 2009 reaching the half billion revenue mark by year-end. So certainly MicroTCA is the right technology at the right time, a versatile COTS platform that has the capabilities and flexibility to support application needs across vertical markets.”
CCC predicts that AMC shipments could very well total close to 400,000 modules by year-end 2009. Few other embedded technologies can boast this level of product availability within such a short span of time with roll outs having started in early 2007.
The CCC report focuses on where MicroTCA vendors have been successful with their customer solutions. Mercury Computers, Performance Technologies, and Emerson Network Power (News - Alert) having taken the lead are detailed in the report. Those applications include ruggedized MicroTCA for the military/aerospace and other commercial critical applications, as well as, Network Centric Warfare, medical applications, defense electronics, homeland security, WiMAX (News - Alert), and next generation IP-PBX which are all generating significant revenues. Indeed, many leading companies within telecommunications, military, aerospace and the medical industry have already seen the advantages MicroTCA platforms bring to the communications backbone. More than 60 percent of equipment providers surveyed by CCC plan to use MicroTCA platform solution now and in future years. Many of those providers plan to deliver their MicroTCA solutions partially populated with AMC modules to meet customer requirements.
As for purchasing this report, all companies who are members of the following organizations: PICMG, RapidIO,, SCOPE, CP-TA and the Intel (News - Alert) Embedded Communications Alliance receive “member pricing” – a 20 percent discount compared to non-member pricing when placing an order for the report. Member pricing is $1,995.00 and includes global licensing.

Richard Grigonis is Executive Editor of TMC�s IP Communications Group. To read more of Richard’s articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Tim Gray

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