Author: By Eelco van der Wal, Chairman PICMG Europe
Founded in 1994, PICMG's original mission was to extend the PCI standard, from the PCI Special Interest Group for use in non-traditional computer markets such as Industrial Automation, Medical, Military and Telecom. With the advent of fabric based transports, PICMG specs have continued to evolve. This has resulted in a series of specifications that include CompactPCI, AdvancedTCA, AdvancedMC, CompactPCI Express, COM Express and SHB Express.
Writing specifications is only the first step. Implementing is the next step. And for this a wide community is needed, ranging from connector suppliers, backplane suppliers, racks, power supplies, and yes – computer modules like processing and I/O. Together with its members PICMG creates eco systems to support the acceptance of the specifications as well as the multiple sources of supply.
Creating ecosystems as basis for the acceptance
In these days computer architectures like the serial CompactPCI Plus are complex. Because of this a multitude of different technologies comes together to standardize the architecture. Starting with the connector technology including simulation on the high speed data transfers, the next step is backplane technology with further simulation and real life measurements. And if these signals also can be delivered in the different topologies needed. Then the requirements on the power supply units come in. And racks, combined with cooling.
So even without the different suppliers for the computer modules itself, one needs already around 10 different suppliers to create an ecosystem at this level.
So in order to make a computer bus specification to become available and accepted in the market, one needs at least 20 suppliers supporting it and providing products ranging from connectors via racks to modules. This is what is often called an eco-system, supporting the market to accept an open standard.
One of the major benefits of such an open eco-system is that it provides extensive knowledge and experience on a broader scale then many in-house developments can ever build upon. And this broad and extensive knowledge is a pre requisite to provide state-of-the-art technologies like CompactPCI Plus to the open marketplace.