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March 2007
Volume 10 / Number 3

Bus & Board 2007

By Richard “Zippy” Grigonis, NITTY GRITTY


I’ve said it many times: of all the expos, conferences, seminars, and assorted mass-gatherings the Zipster has encountered over the years, his Number One favorite — aside from TMC’s own ITEXPOs, of course! — remains the yearly Bus & Board Conference.

It’s a show that’s not too big (350 attendees and about 45 sponsors) but not too small either. All of the right experts and analysts show up every year, along with just about every vendor I’ve written about over the years who makes high availability systems for telecom (and other markets) and the components that are used to build them, such as backplanes and boards.

I’ve attended every Bus & Board Conference since the first one was held in 1999 in San Jose, California. Interestingly, the latest Bus & Board, held January 15-16, 2007 in Long Beach, California, is the last of its kind. The show is changing its name to “Critical Embedded Systems”. It will still be run under the auspices of the VME International Trade Association (VITA) led by the inimitable Ray Alderman. The new Critical Embedded Systems show will be an amalgam of Bus and Board and two other VITA-sponsored events: Military Embedded Electronics and Computing Conference and CoolCON, which is devoted to the liquid cooling of electronics.

At this latest show, some interesting hardware appeared. . . .

ACT/Technico — (news - alert) This well-known supplier of embedded products and CompactPCI (cPCI) and VMEbus solutions had on display their rugged, 3U high cPCI Gigabit Ethernet switch that enables full management via an on-board processor. The 661x series of switches is suited for various embedded network switching applications, including ground mobile, shipboard, airborne and homeland security. (

Aitech Defense Systems— (news - alert) These guys usually develop products for harsh environments, particularly defense, aerospace and astronautics applications. Their products can also function in other mission critical areas, of course. At B&B they announced many new items, including an environmentally sealed, 2-slot 3U high CompactPCI enclosure with a modular and removable power supply. They also announced a high density PMC (PCI Mezzanine Card) that provides up to 64 GB of NAND Flash memory in two banks with DMAC. Called the enhanced M222, its new FPGA-based DMA controllers can sustain data transfer rates of over 45 MBps as well as a power consumption of less than 7 Watts. (

Elma Bustronic Corporation— (news - alert) This major force in high performance backplanes announced a new 14- slot Dual Star MicroTCA backplane, featuring 10 AMC slots, and dual redundant power module and MicroTCA Controller Hub (MCH) slots in a 14-slot backplane. (

Elma Electronic, Inc.— (news - alert) They announced a new 5U MicroTCA shelf, featuring pluggable fan trays and an air filter. It comes with the 14-slot Dual Star backplane. Elma also announced a new AdvancedTCA handle that incorporates a slide-motion button to latch the handle shut and to activate an optional micro-switch. The ergonomics of this latching feature reduce the amount of force required to disengage the handle. The user also gets an audible confirmation that the latch is closed and that the PCB is fully inserted. (

Emerson Network Power— (news - alert) Their new Embedded Computing business, formerly Artesyn Communication Products, announced a new high-speed switched fabric interface for its KAT4000 AdvancedTCA (ATCA) telecom blade. The enhanced interface provides dual 10-Gigabit Ethernet channels for accessing the ATCA High- Speed Fabric, and the blade ccan accommodate up to four AdvancedMC modules. To maximize system throughput and flexibility, the KAT4000 provides separate control/management and data planes, each with its own independent switching capability and ATCA fabric connection. (

GE Fanuc Embedded Systems— (news - alert) These guys acquired Radstone Embedded Computing, announced three new 3U high VPX boards and at the show announced the 3U VPX MAGIC1 Rugged Display Processor. MAGIC 1 is a ruggedized integrated subsystem consisting of the 2.0 GHz Intel Core Dual processor-based SBC340 single board computer and GRA110 graphics processor. (

Hybricon Corporation— (news - alert) The masters of computer modeling and simulation of signal integrity to the backplane design and manufacturing industry announced that it would become a member of the Motorola Communications Server Alliance, “an ecosystem of technology, service and solution providers aligned to provide standards-based solution elements for Motorola’s communications servers”. As an Alliance participant, Hybricon will receive access to Motorola embedded communications computing product roadmaps, development systems, and participate in marketing activities with Motorola. (

Kontron— (news - alert) One of the largest embedded computing companies, was displaying four new AdvancedMC (Advanced Mezzanine Card) modules for security, processing, I/O and storage configurations of preintegrated open modular equipment designed for a multitude of IMS (IP Multimedia Subsystem), 3G and wireline network applications. Two of the four new AdvancedMC units — the Kontron AM4330 IPSec module and the Kontron AM4301 Quad GbE module — are based on the new Mid-Size (4HP) form-factor, recently introduced by the PICMG (PCI Industrial Computing Manufacturers Group) as a flexible and complementary option to the existing Full- Size and Compact sizes. Mid-Size AdvancedMC modules (4HP) are intended to accommodate the design of a wider range of modules that match both AdvancedTCA and MicroTCA system solutions. The new Kontron AdvancedMC modules are as follows: (1) the Kontron AM4330 IPsec Module (Mid-Size), designed to dynamically handle both IPsec and SSL VPN processing applications deployed within mobile communications infrastructure systems, including Media Gateways, Radio Network Controllers, and Serving GPRS Support Nodes. The AM4330 may be integrated with AdvancedTCA carrier boards and CPU Nodes, as well as in MicroTCA-based systems. (2) the Kontron AM4520 SAS Storage Module (Full- Size) which offers up to 73GB storage capacity. It has a MTBF of 1.4 million hours. (3) Kontron AM4002 Processor Module (Full-Size/Mid-Size) is equipped with the latest Intel Pentium M technology for high performance computing within a small footprint. The core component of the AM4002 is an Intel Pentium M processor available at 1.4 and 1.8 GHz with a high-performance Intel E7320 chip set. It supports up to 4GB of DDR-II memory (PC400) as well as AMC.1 (PCIe), AMC.2 (Gigabit Ethernet), AMC.3 (Serial ATA) and ComPort connections. (4) the Kontron AM4301 Quad GbE Module (Mid-Size) is an AdvancedMC unit for network applications demanding multiple ports directly from an AdvancedTCA processor blade. Based on the Intel 82571EB Gibabit Controller, the AM4301 features 4 x 10Base-T/100Base-Tx/1000Base-T ports and supports PCI-E x8, x4 and x1 link and remote management via IPMI v1.5. When offered in combination with AdvancedTCA platforms, TEM (Telecom Equipment Manufacturers) clients literally conserve valuable system slots, as the AM4301 maximizes communications I/O for Gigabit Ethernet and Fast Ethernet networks with four independent 10/100/1000 ports from a single slot. (

MEN Micro— (news - alert) They had on display their D6, a 6U high CompactPCI single board computer for embedded systems demanding high performance. The D6 can be used for Windows or Linux applications in a wide range of telecom and datacom equipment. The single-slot D6 is a 64- bit, 66 MHz system board based on a Pentium M processor with up to 2 MB of L2 cache, up to 533 MHz front-side bus frequency and up to 2 GHz clock frequency. MEN Micro also offers a single-slot 3U cPCI wireless LAN interface plug-in board (called the F209L) for safe wireless communication in harsh and mobile environments. It supports 802.11b, which includes 40 or 128-bit WEP encryption and data rates of up to 11 Mbps with auto-fallback and an output power of 20 dBm. (

Optima EPS— (news - alert) An Elma company, announced at the show what’s said to be the industry’s first MicroTCA cabinet enclosure. The 19-inch wide cabinet accepts 10 MicroTCA single-width subracks, accepting 120 full-size modules or 240 compact modules plus power modules dissipating a total of about 6KW in a closed loop heat exchanger system. (

Pentek— (news - alert) For those of you VMEbus fans out there, Pentek released at the show its new Model 7141-703 PMC/XMC module. It features two 14-bit, 125 MHz A/Ds and a Xilinx Virtex-II Pro FPGA. It is configured as a ruggedized module and is fully compatible with both cPCI and VME baseboards. (

PLX Technology— (news - alert) a global supplier of PCI Express (PCIe) solutions, introduced 3 new switches at the show. Shipping today, the PLX ExpressLane PEX 8525 (24 lanes, 5 ports), PEX 8533 (32 lanes, 6 ports), and PEX 8547 (48 lanes, 3 ports) joint the recently introduced PEX 8548 (48 lanes, 9 ports) as next-gen PCI Express switches, based on PLX’ “Cut-Thru” architecture, which drops latency down to a mere 110ns in both host centric and peer-to-peer modes, thereby increasing throughput. (

Richard “Zippy” Grigonis is Executive Editor of TMC’s IP Communications Group.



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