AdvancedTCA / ATCA Shelf / Chassis

- details of the AdvancedTCA, ATCA shelf or chassis used to house the ATCA system and provide the required inter-board connectivity, power, and mechanical support.

As the name would indicate, the ATCA shelf is one of the main hardware items for the overall ATCA system.

The ATCA shelf is also historically known as the ATCA chassis.

As such the ATCA shelf forms the central element around which everything else is installed.

ATCA shelf constituents

The ATCA shelf or chassis consists of a number of main elements.

  • Subrack:   The ATCA subrack is the main mechanical item within the overall ATCA shelf. The ATCA subrack provides the mechanical interface for the boards using guide rails, alignment / keying, handle interface, face plate and general mounting hardware. The ATCA subrack will also contain any ESD discharge protection to ensure that boards, etc. are not damaged during operation, maintenance of general handling. It will also be required to contain EMC gasketing to prevent unwanted radiation and susceptibility for interference. It will also contain the backplane interface.
  • Backplane:   The ATCA backplane is a passive board providing the interconnections between the different active boards. It provides the Zone 1 and Zone 2 connectors for Front Board Slots. In addition to this it provides the link ports for the slots and these are connected via high speed signal pairs. The ATCA backplane also provides power distribution, management, and auxiliary signal connections.
  • Front boards:   The ATCA front boards are the slot in cards or boards that are slotted into the ATCA subrack. The ATCA front board measures 8U x 280mm and includes the PCB itself along with a panel. The board will connect with Zone 1 and Zone 2 elements of the backplane (see below) and it may optionally connect with Zone 3.
  • Cooling devices:   With many high speed processing devices within an ATCA system, large amounts of heat is generated. This needs to be removed effectively and a cooling system is incorporated into the ATCA shelf.
  • RTMs:   The Rear Transmission Module, Rear Board or just RTM is an 8U x 70 mm x 6 HP assembly that is installed into the rear portion of a ATCA shelf. It mates with a front boards through the Zone 3 connectors to provide I/O connectivity.
  • Power supplies:   As with any rack systems, the power supply provision is an important aspect of the overall system.

Within the ATCA shelf interconnectivity, three zones are used for different types of connection.

  • Zone 1:   This is the connection area allocated to power management and other ancilliary functions.
  • Zone 2:   The connection area allocated to the ATCA Data Transport Interface.
  • Zone 3:   The slot reserved for user defined connections.

By Ian Poole

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