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ATCA vs. Carrier Grade Rack Mount Servers... Making the Right Choice

Telecom Equipment Manufacturers (TEMs) and Network Equipment Providers (NEPs) are continually being challenged to create communications platforms with high performance levels in a shorter period of time. To accomplish this goal, TEMs and NEPs are leveraging the benefits of open-standards platforms, and these benefits are well understood in the IMS network. The decision of which open-standard architecture to use is not quite as clear.

The AdvancedTCA (ATCA) PICMG (News - Alert) 3.0 standard, ratified in 2002, has significantly gained traction in recent years. The Carrier Grade Rack Mount Server strategy has also seen significant adoption over this same period of time. TEMs and NEPs are designing dual product strategies that incorporate ATCA platforms as well as Carrier Grade Rack Mount Servers (CGRMS) to increase their deployment strategies and leverage the benefits of both architectures. The table accompanying this column breaks out the critical attributes and highlights the primary considerations when comparing ATCA to CGRMS.

Final Score. Both ATCA and CGRMS have something to offer, but it’s not always a clear choice. At a high level, ATCA appears to compete favorably in high network processing applications, but at the same time CGRMS is more cost-effective in less dense applications. Over the next several months, I will unpack some of these key attributes and identify trade-offs between them. IT

Jeff Hudgins is VP of Engineering at NEI, Inc. (

Attribute ATCA CGRMS
Compute processing - scale & performance   X
Flexibility X  
Interoperability X  
Live cycle & platform longevity X  
Manageability X  
Memory - scale & performance   X
Network Processing - scale & performance X  
Power consumption X  
Price/performance   X
Reliabilty X  
Storage - scale & performance   X

» Internet Telephony Magazine Table of Contents

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