Embedded system designers have many fewer processor and chipset options than colleagues designing enterprise class systems. AdvancedTCA is a great platform for NEBS compliant, carrier grade systems but the 200W per blade power envelope further restricts the options for system designers. So the introduction of new processors and chipsets with lower power and extended life cycles, that have been developed with ATCA in mind, is an important development that opens up new opportunities for system designers.
With the introduction of the Quad-Core Intel® Xeon® Processor 5400 Series embedded performance has moved to the next level. These 45nm devices not only integrate twice the number of cores found in a dual core 5100 series processor but also 50\% more cache per core, further increasing performance. As discussed in a recent Webinar hosted by Light Reading quad core processors can dramatically increase system performance, especially in embedded applications which are usually well suited to parallel execution.
For embedded systems in general, and ATCA based systems in particular, performance per watt is a key parameter. This metric needs to be applied to a complete board implementation not just the processor, so chipset and memory are also important. The Intel® 5100 MCH chipset delivers significant power savings with DDR2 memories instead of power hungry FBDIMMS. Combining the latest quad core processors and chipsets delivers increases in performance per watt of over 70\%.
According to a recent report on ATCA from Heavy Reading there are already five vendors with dual-core Intel® Xeon® Processor based ATCA blades. With the significant increase in performance per watt offered by the combination of Quad-Core Intel® Xeon® Processor 5400 Series, Intel® 5100 MCH chipset and DDR2 memory we can expect to see these vendors, and more, bringing out ATCA blades with two quad core processor devices, delivering greater than 2x performance within the 200W power envelope.