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4 Posts authored by: simonstanley
Caught between lower capital expenditure by carriers and demands for new technologies, such as LTE, EPC and IMS, many telecom equipment providers are being forced to use off-the-shelf solutions for new system development. 

Off-the-shelf solutions can dramatically reduce total cost of ownership for both equipment providers and their customers enabling quicker time to market and lower development costs (see Capex Likes Standards). ATCA is the leading standardized platform for telecom and computing applications that require high availability. ATCA components and applications ready systems are available from over 50 vendors ranging from chassis and blades to fully integrated systems. Off-the-shelf OS and middleware solutions are also available from software vendors or pre-integrated into application ready systems. 

LTE is now recognised as the technology of choice for 4G wireless networks across the world. Many carriers are also planning to implement EPC (Enhanced Packet Core) and IMS (IP Multimedia Subsystem) to realise the full potential of LTE to support high-speed data and voice services. By using off-the-shelf solutions telecom equipment providers are accelerating product development. Initial trials are taking place during 2009 with early deployment in 2010 and a full rollout planned by multiple operators starting in 2011 with CAPEX for Global LTE Base Station 2011 Estimated at $3.3 Billion. Subsequent years will require significantly higher Capex to deliver 4G services worldwide. 

By using off-the-shelf solutions telecom equipment providers can deliver greater value to carriers as they deploy these new technologies and roll out 4G services. Down the road the use of standardized platforms such as ATCA should deliver further dividends for carriers as they seek to upgrade these systems to support additional services. 

The PC market has thrived on standard components and standard chassis allowing fierce competition and huge volumes. Rackmount servers fit this model with a 1U, 19" chassis and common components. Bladeservers offer significant benefits over rackmount servers but do not fit the PC model with multiple blade formats and proprietary chassis. The plans by PICMG to develop ATCA Extension specifications (ATCA Attacks the Data Center) should bring the benefits of the blade server in a standard format that gives data center managers the vendor freedom they have with rack mount servers.


Rackmount servers provide a standardized solution for data centers but are inefficient with each 1U chassis integrating power supply and cooling as well as CPU, memory and storage.  Switching is provided separately. Bladeservers share power supply and cooling in a chassis that integrates switching and I/O but ties data center managers into a single supplier for upgrades.  ATCA was developed for carrier grade telecom applications but has many characteristics that are valuable in a mission critical data center including system management and dual redundant components.


There is now significant commitment to ATCA from Tier 1 telecom equipment providers, growing volume and a well established ecosystem.  The time is now right to extend this successful platform out of the central office into the data center (see Watch out blade server market - here comes ATCA!).


The initial proposal for ATCA in the data center defines double wide blades, increasing power per blade to at least 600W and allowing the use of 34 mm z-height memory modules used in 1U blade servers. Replacing the rear transition module in a standard ATCA chassis with a second row of server blades supports fourteen doublewide blades. This concept is really bringing the 1U rackmount server into a standardized blade server format.


Although blade servers offer significant benefits, many data centers continue to use standard 1U rackmount servers. With the right cost base and the double wide format ATCA can deliver the benefits of both rackmount and blade servers in a standardized platform. This looks like it could be the winning formula for the standardized data center.

Message Edited by Felix_M on 06-16-2009 09:35 AM


4G wireless is both an opportunity and a risk for network operators and equipment providers alike. To achieve market success operators need flexible systems and equipment providers need flexible platforms After more than 10 years in development we are moving slowly towards the first big WiMAX deployments with a trial in Baltimore and Sprint and Clearwire combining their WiMAX businesses. In parallel multiple operators after committing to LTE for their next network upgrades (AT&T & Verizon to Use 700 MHz for 4G) and the market for LTE is expected to be at least 4x that for WiMAX. Deployment of LTE is not however expected until 2010.


The convergence of wireless and wireline network infrastructure, together with the introduction of 4G technologies, requires new systems that can be easily developed and expanded. AdvancedTCA (ATCA) provides a common platform that meets these requirements. There is a comprehensive ATCA supplier base and many companies are using ATCA for initial system development (Nortel and LG Electronics use ATCA for LTE) and production systems (Using ATCA for Mobile WiMAX ASN Gateways and Schroff ATCA systems utilised in Airspan HiperMAX).


Both WiMAX and LTE use OFDMA technology and, as shown in a recent Light Reading Components Insider report, the first chips are now available that can support both WiMAX and LTE. By taking advantage of flexible platforms such as ATCA and using multiprotocol devices equipment providers are developing basestations and access gateways that will support 2G, 3G and 4G networks including WiMAX and LTE, giving operators greater flexibility as they develop their networks to meet consumer demand for high bandwidth services such as video.


Message Edited by serenajoy on 03-11-2009 08:14 PM
Message Edited by pmahler_intel on 03-12-2009 08:56 AM

At a recent Light Reading event covering MicroTCA I noticed a new class of customer for this highly flexible, carrier class platform. Companies developing carrier class systems have dominated audiences at previous events however at this latest event there was much enthusiasm from companies developing systems for enterprise applications.


Many of these enterprise manufacturers use custom form factors with custom boards requiring significant development resources. Customer requirements are changing daily and bandwidths are growing even for the most humble systems. For new platforms manufacturers are looking for a COTS solution that is both cost-effective and flexible with plug-in modules for networking I/O, processing and storage. With a wide range of AMC modules available, including some with Intel Core 2 Duo processors, MicroTCA seems like an attractive choice.



By throwing out the dual redundant components and integrating the MicroTCA carrier hub (MCH) onto the system motherboard, system integrators are dramatically reducing the cost of basic MicroTCA systems. These cut down systems have plastic casing and are cost-effective across many enterprise systems including IP-PBX, media Servers and multi-service business gateways.



Although MicroTCA was developed with high-volume applications in mind most implementations have been targeted to low or medium volume systems in telecom and military markets. This seems to be changing now with not only significant interest for enterprise applications but also an enthusiastic response from system developers to deliver a cost-effective MicroTCA solution for enterprise systems. This could prove to be the biggest market for MicroTCA.



Message Edited by serenajoy on 03-11-2009 08:23 PM

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