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February 28, 2008

Bustronic's 2nd Generation AdvancedTCA Backplanes Support IPMB

By Richard Grigonis, Executive Editor, IP Communications Group

February 27, 2008 — Whereas the CompactPCI (News - Alert) rackmount form factor was the top-dog of the “computer telephony” era of the 1990s, AdvancedTCA (Advanced Telecom Computing Architecture), or ATCA, is becoming the chief denizen of today’s era of next-generation “carrier grade” communications equipment. AdvancedTCA was the largest specification efforts in the history of the PCI Industrial Computer Manufacturer’s Group’s (PICMG (News - Alert)). First of all, more than 100 companies had some input in drafting and refining the spec, and unlike the CompactPCI spec that took forever to nail down, AdvancedTCA rocketed though PICMG’s approval process in record time. The resulting standard encompasses both new “blade” (i.e., board) and chassis form factor (“shelf”) optimized for communications. It also involves the latest in high speed serial switch fabrics and improved Reliability, Availability, and Serviceability (RAS).

And now, Elma Bustronic Corporation ( of Fremont, California, a major designer and manufacturer of high performance backplanes, has developed new 2nd generation AdvancedTCA (ATCA) backplanes.

What distinguished these new ATCA backplanes os that they support routing implemented for radial Intelligent Platform Management Bus (IPMB) signals. Radial IPBM provides dual segment access to every IPM controller even when only one shelf manager is present or operational. This is an important option for ATCA systems to provide higher reliability and redundancy.

The backplanes also feature 14-slots with a Dual Star routing topology. Bustronic now uses the familiar AMC (AdvancedTCA Mezzanine Card) female connector, used in MicroTCA and other form factors, as the shelf manager connectors. They were chosen because they are widely used, reliable, and offer a high pin count in a small space. The connectors are dense enough to be placed next to the slots so that they can fit within a card cage for 19-inch rackmount systems. These ShMM (Shelf Management Module) Edge connectors are stacked on top of each other so that dual shelf managers can be used in the same system, but not take up any slot space.

Mesh topology backplanes are also available in standard 2, 5, and 14-slot sizes. Custom versions of Bustronic’s ATCA backplanes are also available. The lead-time is 4-6 weeks ARO.

Richard Grigonis is an internationally-known technology editor and writer. Prior to joining TMC (News - Alert) as Executive Editor of its IP Communications Group, he was the Editor-in-Chief of VON Magazine (News - Alert) from its founding in 2003 to August 2006. He also served as the Chief Technical Editor of CMP Media’s Computer Telephony magazine, later called Communications Convergence (News - Alert) (NewsAlert), from its first year of operation in 1994 until 2003. In addition, he has written five books on computers and telecom (including the Computer Telephony Encyclopedia and Dictionary of IP Communications). To see more of his articles, please visit his columnist page


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