With the completion of the AdvancedTCA standards near the end of 2005, a whole new series of industry standard specifications for developing high speed interconnect technologies, next generations silicones, and improved reliability, manageability and serviceability became available for the next-generation carrier-grade communication equipment. The physical design of AdvancedTCA was aimed at the telecom carrier end office or switching environment. It can be space, energy, and capital consuming. However, thanks to these new standard specifications, a variant of AdvancedTCA form factor called MicroTCA, which may be considered as a small form factor version of the new carrier grade technology, was created. One may say that MicroTCA is a lower-cost and smaller version of AdvancedTCA. But, it still provides support for requirements such as NEBS, ETSI, and ITU specifications. Due to this capability and its modularity, scalability, and reliability, MicroTCA systems have not only found their applications such as in WiMax base stations, remote terminals, subscriber loop carrier, digital subscriber loop access multiplexers and IP video, VOIP, and for CATV multiple system operators deploying CATV modems, but they are also starting to find their ways outside of the carrier plant environments such as transportation, industrial, government, and aerospace. One important element besides the power module and the backplane that make up the MicroTCA carrier is called the MicroTCA Carrier Hub (MCH). It provides the management, clock, and fabric hub signals to each AMC position of the backplane. In MicroTCA, AdvancedTCA AMC modules can connect directly to the chassis backplane without modifications. They are the primary components of MicroTCA.
Being created to address cost-sensitive and physically smaller applications, MicroTCA may not offer as high capacity and high performance as AdvancedTCA. However, its design intent for mission critical systems and high-availability applications is gaining more and more product inquiries from various markets. And, how small and agile can a MicroTCA system be? Well, considering the 45nm low-voltage processor or the integrated SOC, Tolapai, from Intel, and the small physical size of the single-width AMC PCB, anything reasonable seems accomplishable.