Electronic Design

µTCA Is Ideal For Low- And Mid-Range Telecom Apps

AdvancedTCA (ATCA) and AdvancedMC stand poised to become the dominant blade and mezzanine expansion platforms for highavailability telecom applications. The product of a collaboration of major telecom OEMs, service providers, and suppliers, ATCA and AdvancedMC target an optimal telecom They address major bandwidth, availability, upgradeability, cost, scalability, management, interoperability issues. and AdvancedMC target an optimal telecom platform. They address major bandwidth, availability, field upgradeability, cost, scalability, management, and interoperability issues.

Even as ATCA and AdvancedMC thrive, a new open-shelf specification is emerging. It will leverage their infrastructure and installed base in applications with tighter cost and size constraints. Known as µTCA (“MicroTCA”), the specification provides a framework for combining AdvancedMC modules in a standard 19-in. shelf measuring 4U high by 300 mm deep.

Several PICMG members collaborated in the first µTCA shelf demonstration at Super-Comm this summer, using Artesyn’s Pentium M-based AdvancedMC modules to provide payload processing and power conversion modules for the system. The demonstration featured a live application server that can service millions of subscribers. It used a standard 4U-µTCA chassis equipped with five AdvancedMC modules and redundant power-conversion modules.

ATCA’s redundant, high-bandwidth (up to 10- Gbit/s) switched fabric, protocol independence, large form factor (8U), high-power capability, hot swappability, and Integrated Peripheral Management Interfaces (IPMI) system management interface make it the quintessential platform for building large-scale, high-availability, packetbased telecom systems. AdvancedMC enhances ATCA flexibility by extending its high-bandwidth fabric and IPMI system management to individual hot-swappable modules. Together, ATCA and AdvancedMC create a versatile platform for quickly building modular telecom systems that could be designed, manufactured, scaled, upgraded, and serviced at a much lower cost.

µTCA is essentially a repackaging of AdvancedMC. The new form factor, which includes cabling (a key for optical applications), results in a system that is low in cost, has a very small footprint, and enables OEMs to leverage the installed base of off-the-shelf AdvancedMC modules. So µTCA perfectly complements ATCA for small-form-factor central office and outside-plant applications like wireless basestations, Wi-Fi/WiMax radio boxes, nextgeneration digital loop carriers, optical ADMs, and Fiber-to-the-Curb optical network units.

The foundation for the µTCA chassis, the Virtual Carrier Manager (VCM), provides the switched fabric and shelf-management functions. µTCA backplanes will provide scalable bandwidths up to 40 Gbits/s. Implementing the same serial transport mechanism as AdvancedMC, µTCA backplanes will achieve a raw bandwidth of 12.5 Gbits/s per channel and support star, dual-star, and full-mesh topologies. They also will be protocol agnostic, enabling the handling of various packet-based protocols like Ethernet, PCI Express/AS, and RapidIO.

To enhance availability, µTCA shelves will support hot-swappable AdvancedMC modules, which will let service providers replace individual modules in the field without taking the entire shelf offline. The µTCA backplane also will provide I2C-based IPMI, enabling shelf management to monitor and control each module installed in the backplane. µTCA shelves will accept any standard AdvancedMC module in a variety of form factors. A shelf equipped with one or two VCMs can hold 24 single-wide, full-height modules; 48 single-wide, half-height modules; 24 double-wide, double-height modules; 12 double-wide, halfheight modules; or any combination thereof.

Together, ATCA, AdvancedMC, and µTCA provide a modular, scalable, end-to-end framework that addresses the full spectrum of high-availability telecom applications, from core routers and WDMs to converged customer premises equipment. This open framework cuts equipment costs by enabling telecom OEMs to quickly configure systems using affordable, off-the-shelf hardware and software. It also reduces operating costs by providing a modular, field-replaceable framework with integrated system management that enables carriers to scale, manage, and service their systems with a higher degree of granularity.

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