AdvancedMC Insider May 2006


In This Issue ...

GlobalComm 2006

Working Together Takes Work

Can MicroTCA Replace 3U cPCI?

In 2005, SuperComm served as the backdrop for an AdvancedMCTM coming out party. SBS Technologies® alone announced a dozen new TelumTM cards were available. With GlobalCommTM set to take the same venue as a premier trade show for communications professionals, we expect AdvancedMCs will show how far they have come in a year. With that in mind, SBS will be flying the AdvancedMC flag in Chicago, and using them to demonstrate a couple of 3G (IMS) technology applications that are the result of our collaborations with IBM® and Surf Communication Solutions®.

Open modular computing has been gathering momentum every year at the show, and this year it should be no exception. Carriers are struggling to be nimble—to respond almost instantly to consumer demand for services—and modular building blocks offer a lot of promise for meeting this need.

Our goal at SBS is to offer the modular components that will make it all happen. This year, in GlobalComm Booth Number 18051 and PICMG® Booth 12042BB we will be demonstrating a couple of interesting examples of how this sort of “snap together” computing environment can be implemented:

Live demo of I-TDM on MicroTCA
SBS and Surf will be running a demo in the SBS booth at GlobalComm, where you will be able to see industry's first end-to-end AMC-based I-TDM solution for building Next-Generation Convergent (Voice, Video, Data) Media Gateways. This joint effort will demonstrate a “Proof-Of-Concept” I-TDM solution for delivering two analog voice channels on a single I-TDM flow over a MicroTCA® Gigabit Ethernet backplane.

The demonstration platform, based on Surf's AdvancedMC DSP card and the SBS TelumTM 624/628-TEJ-ITDM AdvancedMC, displays the flexibility of Surf's media server and media gateway development frameworks combined with the SBS I-TDM solution. The platform is ideal for applications that need to deliver audio, video, fax and modem data over IP networks, such as media/content servers, as well as video mail and video messaging servers.

Download I-TDM white paper here

Live Convergent 3G Wireless (IMS) infrastructure
IBM's BladeCenter® T chassis provides a superb platform for convergent 3G wireless infrastructure, and the new BladeCenter T AdvancedMCTM carrier developed jointly by IBM® and SBS offers an incredible amount of I/O flexibility because of its ability to support up to four AdvancedMC modules per blade.

The demonstration planned for GlobalComm will show some of the capabilities of this new AvancedMC Carrier Blade by passing a video streaming application through an AdvancedMC ATM switch using AL5 data encapsulation of the UDP packets. As part of the demonstration, the packets are normalized to UDP and sent to a handheld device via a wireless 802.11 network. The BladeCenter® T demo will showcase a 3G Wireless ATM-to-IP Video Streaming service infrastructure application. It will also consist of a “talk-to” network diagram showing Convergent voice using Telum 624 I-TDM enabled WAN “transport” solutions. The demo includes BCT4-AMC1 Carrier, ASLP10, Telum 1001-O3 and Telum 624 modules. The ASLP10 is running SUSE V9 Linux® OS and demo will require host to GbE interface API. The SBS BCT4-AMC1 Carrier Module that will housed in a BladeCenter® T server.

Live MicroTCA Video Gateway Demonstration
SBS will also be participating in a MicroTCA feature demonstration at the PICMG Booth #12042BB. The hardware platform will consist of a video server using an SBS AdvancedTCA® carrier populated with the Telum ASLP10 processor AdvancedMC, a storage AdvancedMC from a third party, the SBS video AdvancedMC and the Telum 1204-O3 4-port ATM line card.

The video server will be running an off-the-shelf Video Server application capable of streaming three independent video streams. These UDP/IP video streams will be encapsulated into ATM cells and transmitted over fiber cables to three MicroTCA chassis which will act as Video Gateways. Each Video Gateway will be based on MicroTCA chassis and will use MCH v2.7 with PCI-E frabric, the ASLP10, a storage module and the Telum 1001. Video traffic will be received on the ATM interface, de-capsulated and sent out through Gigabit Ethernet interface available on MCH. Applications such as this are considered prime targets for the MicroTCA platforms.


Rubin Dhillon, V.P. Communications & Enterprise

We all know the need for interoperability of open telecommunications components and platforms is, of course, self-evident. Without painless interoperability between components and system modules, you don't have an open standards system.

The recent interoperability announcements by CP-TA, PICMG®, SAF and the SCOPE Alliance serve to underscore the link between open telecommunications standards and interoperability between platforms and are a welcome and necessary step. PICMG's AdvancedTCA® specification, and its ancillary AdvancedMC and MicroTCA specifications, serve as a solid foundation for open standards-based equipment.

AdvancedTCA's ecosystem of telecommunication system building blocks, components that all work seamlessly together, will provide a highly flexible supply chain for Telecom Equipment Manufacturers (TEMs). What may not be self-evident, though, is the assurance that vendors entering the open standard telecommunications equipment market will understand and provide the same quality of service and product life cycle management that traditional proprietary telecom equipment makers have hung their hats on for years.

That's where the various recently formed telecommunication standards organizations come in. Hopefully, vendor agreement on what constitutes interoperability between components of a system using standard interfaces and protocols will do for telecom equipment what the WiFi Alliance has done for IEEE 802.11 wireless specification interoperability. Such a “COTS” approach to telecommunication equipment will have the beneficial effects of offering the TEMs real choices while at the same time driving costs down through market competition.

We all know AdvancedTCA is not a “one size fits all” solution for every network application, which is why future developments of AdvancedTCA will probably concentrate on mainly network transport applications, while the imminent MicroTCA specification, combined with AdvancedMC modules, will be better suited for edge and enterprise applications. Naturally, standardized implementations of these standards is expected and required by TEMs. Sometimes, though, interoperability is viewed as just an adherence to published specifications, while not enough attention goes into the effort to ensure that components and systems seamlessly work together as specified.

SBS Technologies stands behind these efforts to ensure interoperability but we know it will take some time before the product interoperability between different vendors has matured. Until that time we are sure you will appreciate the present comprehensive line of AdvancedMC modules SBS offers today that are already designed to play together. So, as far as SBS is concerned, open standard telecom equipment interoperability is here now and our full line of AdvancedTCA and AdvancedMC equipment brings TEMs the quality of service and product life cycle management that they require.


By Chris Eckert, SBS Technologies

When the MicroTCATM specification is published it will create a very interesting potential migration path from 3U CompactPCI® to MicroTCA for industrial users. Physically, a standard MicroTCA chassis has a low profile which appears similar to a 3U CompactPCI card rack, and for space-constrained industrial applications, this is an appealing feature.

There are, however, very definite differences between the two technologies, and based on these differences it looks as though MicroTCA will find a place in applications with higher traffic capacities, engineered interconnect and more controlled environments, while 3U CompactPCI will continue to serve applications with lower traffic needs which must survive in harsh and/or mobile environments.

That being said, as with any platform evolution, the idea of migrating to new infrastructure requires a detailed scrutiny of key system parameters. A careful comparison of the two technologies, based on the parameters below, should produce some rules-of-thumb.

The 3U CompactPCI and AdvancedMC plug-in unit form factors offer similar assembly volumes, thermal capacities, and local interface port capacities. The 3U CompactPCI assembly has an assembly volume outline of 100 mm W x 160 mm D x 20.32 mm H, a power/thermal capacity of approximately 30W depending on host chassis cooling resources, and is capable of hosting a PMC or XMC daughter card. The most commonly utilized AdvancedMC form factor (single-wide, full height) has an assembly volume outline of 73.5 mm W x 180.6 mm D x 28.95mm H. The single-wide, full height AdvancedMC plug-in unit is expected to have a thermal load limit of 40W in a MicroTCA platform, as defined and controlled by the host chassis through equipment configuration. Assemblies in either form factor are capable of supporting similar types and quantities of local interface ports on the front panel or at a rear transition module.

The MicroTCA chassis is expected to fully support the system management and hot-swap resources provided on AdvancedMC plug-in units, which provide a variety of power sequencing functions, hardware resource authentication, and E-keying. Typical 3U CompactPCI chassis do not implement hot swap capabilities because they are used in applications where cycling power for board insertion or extraction is an acceptable practice. Further, most 3U CompactPCI products also do not implement I2C serial bus wiring or IPMI functionality, because they are generally closely attended by service personnel who monitor the system for fault indications.

The host platform interconnect architectures associated with the AdvancedMC and 3U CompactPCI plug-in units are quite different. The 3U CompactPCI backplane is built around a shared PCI bus, which the plug-in units utilize through a request/grant arbitration scheme. A number of system integrators implementing 3U CompactPCI platforms have developed overlay serial link architectures running Gigabit Ethernet traffic to accommodate point-to-point data transfers that exceed PCI bus capabilities. The MicroTCA platform is expected to fully support the primary high-speed serial link infrastructure provided on AdvancedMC modules, which contain one or more interface ports capable operating at 2.5 Gb/s or higher. In addition, typical AdvancedMC modules implement one or more secondary serial interface ports to mass memory storage devices utilizing S-ATA, SAS, or Fibre Channel protocols, in addition to system reference clocks.

The host platform mechanical packaging and backplane connectors provide another parameter for consideration. A 3U CompactPCI host assembly may be implemented using either active forced-air-cooling or passive conduction cooling, where forced-air cooling is typically utilized for more benign environments and conduction-cooling is utilized for environments characterized by extreme temperatures, altitudes, or contaminants in the atmosphere. Conduction cooling is also typically utilized in applications where the host system is mobile, such as an airplane, tank, or space craft. The forthcoming MicroTCA specification will likely include a standard rack-mount chassis definition in addition to multiple packaging options optimized for standalone deployments. The MicroTCA chassis is anticipated to be deployed in controlled environment applications, and may be deployed in sheltered environments where it is exposed to temperature extremes.

In general, a 3U CompactPCI plug-in unit will continue to be appropriate for applications with the following characteristics:

  1. extended temperature, contaminated atmosphere, and/or other harsh environments;
  2. applications where the host system is expected to be mobile;
  3. relatively low data transfer rates (typically less than 1 - 2 Gb/s per card slot); and/or
  4. applications where the host system is capable of being placed in an inactive operating state in order to service a plug-in unit in the chassis
In general, an AdvancedMC module in a MicroTCA chassis will be an appropriate candidate for applications with the following characteristics:
  1. one or more interface ports with high data transfer rates for each module;
  2. requirements for detailed engineering of traffic among plug-in units in the chassis;
  3. active power sequencing, hot-swap, and/or intelligent system management;
  4. high system availability, where the system is required to continue operation while a plug-in unit is being serviced; and/or
  5. target deployment in a relatively controlled and non-moving environment.

Download free white paper for further details.