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3 Posts authored by: simonstanley


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.




Network bandwidths are growing across the world with Gigabit Ethernet widely deployed by businesses. 10 Gigabit Ethernet could be viewed as simply as a speed step-up for Ethernet however that would be a mistake. In time 10GE will surely replace Gigabit Ethernet as the standard network interface, but ahead of that 10GE is already having a profound impact on the architecture of many parts of the network


10GE was specified to share components with 10Gbits Sonet/SDH and 10Gbit/s Fibre Channel.  Following work within the Metro Ethernet Forum and other organisations 10GE is now replacing Sonet/SDH in the Metro and wide area network. 10GE supports many physical media and 10Gbase-KR based backplanes are replacing proprietary interconnects within many systems.  The 10Gbase-KR based PICMG3.1 Option 9 is already the fabric interconnect of choice for ATCA.


The first high-volume market for 10GE is proving to be in the data centre. Dual and quad core servers can already handle multi-gigabit bandwidths. Top-of-rack 10GE switches are available several vendors including Arista Networks (Ex-Cisco SVP to Lead Andy Bechtolsheim’s Latest Switch Startup), Blade Network Technologies, Cisco and Woven Systems with either copper or SFP+ optics. These switches integrate network virtualization and support for additional protocols including Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE).


Fibre Channel has been the leading interconnect within the storage industry and FCoE is a key technology for making Ethernet the common network in the data centre (Reality Check: The FCoE Forecast). At 10Gbit/s FCoE can deliver the same performance as 8Gbit/s Fibre Channel and is quickly becoming more cost-effective.


These developments in the data centre together with Metro Ethernet, Ethernet transport and the introduction of the first 10Gbase-T twisted pair solutions will make 10GE the most significant network technology since the introduction of switched Ethernet. The widespread use of 10GE (Big bandwidth coming on strong) will enable significant increases in embedded system performance and drive further developments including 40/100 Gigabit Ethernet.

Message Edited by serenajoy on 03-11-2009 08:13 PM
Message Edited by pmahler_intel on 03-12-2009 08:58 AM

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.



Message Edited by serenajoy on 03-11-2009 08:16 PM

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