The introduction of the Intel® Xeon 5500 Series Nehalem processors is having a dramatic impact on the performance and cost of ATCA based systems. With two quad core Intel® 5500 Series processors on an ATCA blade, the performance per slot is more than double that of an Intel® Xeon 5408 based system and over 5 times that of the many existing ATCA platforms with Intel Xeon LV dual core processors. For applications that do not require the extra processing this performance increase allows significant cost reductions of up to 80\%.


ATCA vendors have quickly adopted the Intel Nehalem processors (Fast Intel® Xeon 5500 processors are a perfect fit for ATCA). The availability of ATCA blades from four vendors when Intel released details of the new processors is unprecedented and demonstrates the importance placed on this development by ATCA vendors and their customers.


ATCA blades integrating a single Intel Xeon 5500 Series processor have been introduced by  three vendors; Advantech, Kontron and Radisys. These single processor blades deliver higher performance than previous dual processor blades and at a lower cost. Processor power consumption is also reduced by up to 50\%. Emerson Network Power has introduced a dual Intel Xeon 5500 Series processor blade that delivers more than twice the performance per slot of previous generations.  Maximum power consumption for this blade, at over 300W max., is above existing ATCA specifications. There are already several ATCA platforms supporting 300 W per slot and there will be many more in 12 months time.


Whether you use single processor blades or dual processor blades, the Nehalem processors, and the performance increase they bring, will dramatically reduce the cost of ATCA platforms for most applications. I expect these blades to very quickly become the standard fit for the majority of new ATCA based systems.