AdvancedTCA / ATCA Tutorial

- details about the basics of AdvancedTCA, ATCA - Advanced Telecommunications Computing Architecture used for carrier grade communications equipment.

AdvancedTCA or ATCA stands for Advanced Telecommunications Computing Architecture.

AdvancedTCA is targeted at use within the telecommunications industry, primarily for next generation carrier grade communications equipment where high speed computing is essential.

The AdvancedTCA is a series of specifications utilises high speed processing along with high speed interconnect technologies and it has the aim of providing improved reliability, availability and service.

The AdvancedTCA system is supported by many large telecommunications companies who want a robust system as the core technologies move from circuit switched techniques to packet switched techniques.


AdvancedTCA standard

The AdvancedTCA standard was developed by the PICMG. The PICMG is headquartered in Wakefield, Massachusetts, USA and is a consortium of companies that work together to develop open specifications for high performance telecommunications and industrial computing applications.

The PICMG has developed a number of other specifications including CompactPCI, AdvancedMC, CompactPCI Express, COM Express and SHB Express.

The AdvancedTCA specifications have numbers in the series PICMG 3.X.

The PICMG 3 specifications are oriented around switch fabric technology instead of a conventional parallel bus.

As with all specifications of this type, the PICMG 3 specifications aim to provide sufficient definition to manufacturers of the different elements of AdvancedTCA to independently develop products that will be interoperable when integrated together.

The details within the PICMG specifications include mechanical details such as the board dimensions, equipment practice, connectors, power distribution, and a robust system management architecture that can be used independent of the switch fabric link technology.

The AdvancedTCA specification comprisesvarious elements:

  • PICMG 3.0:   This is the overall general specification for AdvancedTCA. It defines elements such as mechanical details including the board or card details, connectors types and positioning, power supplies, system management.
  • PICMG 3.1:   This element of the AdvancedTCA, ATCA specification defines the Ethernet switch fabric used on the backplane interconnection. The system provides for data rates up to 10 Gbps per link.
  • PICMG 3.2:   This specification defines how the InfiniBand systems interface within AdvancedTCA. It defines the physical layers, protocols and protocol mapping elements.
  • PICMG 3.3:   This defines the StarFabric implementation for the backplane. It provides TDM cell control and packet connectivity.
  • PICMG 3.4:   This defines how PCI Express and PCI Express Advanced Switching transport is mapped onto ATCA PICMG 3.0.
  • PICMG 3.5:   This defines how Serial Rapid I/O, SRIO is mapped onto PICMG 3.0 ATCA.
  • PICMG 3.6:   Not now used .
  • PICMG 3.7:   This specification has not yet been adopted but develops extensions to AdvancedTCA for use in enterprise applications.
  • PICMG 3.8:   This specification defines a set of connectors for data and management on the RTM described in PICMG 3.0 R3.0.

By Ian Poole


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