AdvancedMC Insider June 2006


In This Issue ...

GE Fanuc Acquires SBS Technologies

A new beginning

The Next Big Thing In AdvancedMC

GE Fanuc Embedded Systems Acquires SBS Technologies

On Wednesday, June 7, 2006, GE Fanuc Embedded Systems, a unit of General Electric Company, announced that it had completed the acquisition of SBS Technologies®. The integration of SBS Technologies into GE Fanuc Embedded Systems creates a broad presence in the embedded systems industry with an extensive line of products and the backing of a $150 billion global parent company.

The new entity brings the resources and experience of one of the world’s most respected companies to bear on the embedded marketplace. For standards-based, open architecture communications and networking platforms such as AdvancedTCA® , MicroTCA® and AdvancedMCTM, this promises to be an encouraging development. GE Fanuc Embedded systems will combine the technical, support and channel resources that already existed with GE Fanuc with those of SBS to create a new group within GE Fanuc entirely focused on the embedded market. This group will have a large combined force of engineering talent committed to solving customer challenges.

“Strategically, this acquisition puts GE Fanuc Embedded Systems in a great position to serve a variety of customers including those interested in communications, government/aerospace, medical, semiconductor, industrial, and military systems,” said Maryrose Sylvester, president and CEO of GE Fanuc. “The combination of the two companies provides depth and breadth in crucial product areas primed for growth. In addition, SBS Technologies has an excellent presence in Europe and Asia, adding to the team GE Fanuc Embedded Systems has in place in those regions.”

“The combination of SBS Technologies with the already robust product offerings of GE Fanuc Embedded Systems provides us with a dynamic growth opportunity,” continued Sylvester. “I am confident that industry-leading technology and products will be the end result.”

More information about GE Fanuc Embedded Systems is available at


Rubin Dhillon, V.P. Communications & Enterprise

This year’s Globalcomm® was very exciting and special for us. We spent the first two days of the show as SBS Technologies and the last day of the show as GE Fanuc Embedded Systems. I am very proud to be part of the GE Fanuc team and believe you will see us bring the great technology, innovation and commercial excellence of GE to the global embedded marketplace. Stay tuned for more on this in the coming months...

On to the GlobalComm report…

GlobalComm 2006 confirmed for me that the Convergent Communications Market is thriving. It also confirmed that the open-architecture, modular computing has been embraced by both Network Equipment Providers and System Integrators. The future looks bright as we have placed the right bets and made the right investments to put GE Fanuc Embedded Systems in the forefront of this exciting market.

Everyone at the show sensed a new level of confidence, because there is no longer any doubt that convergent communications are an inevitability. Within a very short time we will all realize the benefits of constant and effortless connection to all our networks of information, fellow workers, family and friends and entertainment outlets.

The Convergent communications platform took center stage and IP/TV, IMS Infrastructure and WiMAX were everywhere. These are the applications that will drive the requirements for high-performance, cost effective modular computing platforms.

Think about IP/TV for a few seconds. Why? Does the world have some insatiable need to put EVERYTHING over IP? It makes a lot of sense when you consider the high performance and (relatively) low-cost IP network that we are all working to build. It makes a lot of sense when you consider that people are now watching and controlling and INTERACTING with Entertainment in new ways. Last year we all bragged about how large our televisions were. This year we brag about how we watch TV on our cell phones. Things are changing – dynamically and that creates opportunities for those willing to take the risks and go get the business.

IP/TV was one of the most common technology demonstrations at GlobalComm 2006. And the interesting thing this year was that the IP/TV demos had none of that sort of breathless “Look, we got it to work,” feeling. These were fully fleshed out, high definition delivery platforms with detailed user interfaces, etc. It was clear that the technological challenges have been overcome to the point that providers are confident in developing real, customer-ready products.

IP/TV is just one application, but it has the potential to generate a lot of revenue for service providers. And it also requires new equipment, making the Network Equipment Providers happy, along with those companies like GE Fanuc who are helping develop their systems faster and more cost effectively.

Big names. Big plans.

Alcatel, Cisco, Lucent, Motorola, Nortel, Siemens, Tekelec (and probably others I can’t remember) were showcasing their IP-centric infrastructure, service delivery and applications solutions.

AdvancedTCA was everywhere. It is now evident that the technology has matured and is starting to deliver on its cost/performance value proposition. 10 Gigabit Ethernet enabled platforms are now becoming available. But for me, it was most exciting to see all the preliminary MicroTCA systems on display by companies such as Motorola, Radisys and GE Fanuc Embedded Systems. MicroTCA has the promise to deliver very scalable, high-performance systems at a lower cost point than the high-end ATCA systems and it is not far away.

The state of the AdvancedMC architecture.

Well there are a lot more companies getting into the AMC business, which is a good thing. We need a strong, diversified ecosystem of AMC vendors to make sure that the AdvancedMC delivers on its value-proposition. From what I saw of AMCs and MicroTCA, we are going to get there.

It is still disappointing to see so many vendors with chartware. One particular company “announced” its AMCs again – the third or fourth time they have announced them in the last year or so. And many of these products were not even on display in their booth. So how do we show customers that the AdvancedMC and MicroTCA architecture is not all fluff?

GE Fanuc Embedded systems had two live demos on display, all highlighting working AdvancedMC products and enabling platforms such as Carrier Cards and preliminary MicroTCA systems.

The MicroTCA Video Gateway demo demonstrated IP and ATM interoperability using AdvancedMCs in a MicroTCA environment. A video server AdvancedMC module, housed in an ATCA chassis with an AT-AMC1 carrier blade to support the AdvancedMCs, consisted of a prAMC, a storage AdvancedMC, an OC-3 ATM AdvancedMC and a VGA AdvancedMC. Each video gateway used a prAMC, a storage AdvancedMC, and OC-3 ATM AdvancedMC and a MCH with Gigabit Ethernet switch as “mini-blades” in a MicroTCA chassis.

For the second demo, IBM partnered with us to demonstrate a convergent streaming media infrastructure in which a video streaming application passed through an AdvancedMC ATM switch. This demo featured the new BCT4-AMC1 BladeCenter® AdvancedMC Carrier Blade with an installed prAMC, a storage AdvancedMC and an OC-3 interface AdvancedMC.

So I will have fond memories of Globalcomm 2006. I saw a market that is justifying all the hard work our team has put into making the open modular computing telecom architecture a reality. And I will remember it as the launching pad for new and exciting things as we became GE Fanuc Embedded Systems – putting our imagination at work for all of our customers.


By Jeff Marden, Engineering Fellow

The AdvancedMC specification is undergoing some serious changes, and I think this will be a good thing. Every one of these changes is either a correction of some weakness with the original AMC.0 specification, or an enhancement of the capabilities of the AdvancedMC Module.

There’s nothing to fear here, and a lot to be happy about. I can testify that a lot of effort is going into preventing specification “bloat” during the revision process. Hundreds of Change Requests were logged by the PICMG AMC.0 ECR Sub-committee, but in the end, only a reasonable number of those changes will make the cut. Some of these changes are previewed in this article.

A New Card Size

Upon examination of the AMC.0 Specification by Telecom Equipment Manufacturers, it was observed that when a set of four full-height AdvancedMC Modules are mounted on an ATCA Carrier, the full front plate area of the ATCA Carrier is consumed by the four AMC Module panels. This presented two problems. First, LEDs that were needed to annunciate the functionality of the ATCA Carrier were pushed to the mounting ears of the ATCA Carrier so they were hard to see. Second, there was no panel space left on the ATCA Carrier for labels to identify the carrier/module unit.

Although half-height AdvancedMC Modules would solve the problem, not many have been released to this point. It was decided that a third form-factor was needed; one that had sufficient height for I/O connectors, disk drives and other components, but small enough to allow it to be mounted on an ATCA Carrier with panel space available. The mid-size AdvancedMC form factor was created to meet this need.

More power to AdvancedMCs

Newer technology and higher density means higher power consumption, and for modern telecom applications, 60Watts as the maximum power limit for AdvanceMC Modules isn’t enough. The ECN committee, with the support of the AMC connector vendors, chose to increase the maximum power for an AdvancedMC Module to 80Watts.

Although there are very legitimate concerns about removing heat in AMC/ATCA/MicroTCA system, most of the central office AdvancedTCA deployments are built either in cooling cabinets or in powerful whole-room cooling systems that keep the ambient air temperature low. For MicroTCA, more cooling has been added to the system—up to 4 fan modules per chassis in fully redundant systems.

An Improved Latch/Handle

It seems that many AdvancedMC users and customers have doubts about the robustness of the latch & handle mechanism specified in the AMC.0 specification. To address this, the AMC.0 ECR Sub-committee took two actions:

  • Engage the latch & handle suppliers to address concerns and drive the modification of the existing design to increase the reliability and strength of the mechanism.
  • Create an appendix to the AMC.0 specification in which alternate concepts for the latch & handle mechanism can be presented and documented. The present draft revision of the AMC.0 ECR specification contains a couple of alternatives, with more expected before the final revision of the specification is released.

Telecom and Fabric Clocking

Identifying some ambiguity in telecom clock definitions in AMC.0 v1.0, the ECR committee chose to rename the AdvancedMC clock signals to specifically link them to telecom and fabric clocking functions, and to redefined and enhance telecom clocking with some new capabilities, including additional clock signals.

Better LED Placement

A problem becomes apparent when you stack multiple AdvanceMC Modules on top of each other in an array of carriers or blades. At that point you realize that you can’t see some of the AdvancedMC LEDs and other LEDs look similar enough to make distinguishing one from the other difficult. So the revised specification will change LED size and position to enhance visibility. It’s a simple fix for a small problem, but it will make everything run a little smoother.

Mechanical Enhancements

While engaged in the specification change process, the ECR committee decided to review, update and enhance the mechanical definitions for modules, panels, carriers and other mechanical elements of the AMC.0 specification. A dedicate mechanical team worked hard to create new content for the mechanical section of the specification while maintaining compatibility with existing AdvancedMC Modules, and the results will provide more complete and robust text and drawings for the specification.


The AMC.0 ECR Sub-committee continues to meet regularly, to discuss and resolve open issues and generate the next revision of the AMC.0 specification. Today, the ECR specification is at draft revision 0.8, with the next update coming in a week or two. I’m betting that the results will be worth the wait (and hard work).