Any doubt that ATCA scalable platform has been removed with the introduction of fourth-generation platforms. These fourth-generation platforms will support 40Gbit/s, 10Gbit/s, 4Gbit/s or 1Gbit/s to each blade. Although there are some restrictions, a fourth-generation platform can include blades from any previous generation. This gives network equipment providers a rapid upgrade path with minimal engineering investment and significant future proofing.
At the recent xTCA and COTS Virtual Event staged by Light Reading, speakers from both ATCA vendors and network equipment providers highlighted the benefits of using ATCA for telecom systems. See xTCA & COTS Virtual Event to view archive. Having shifted most customers onto 10 Gbit/s platforms ATCA vendors RadiSys and Continuous Computing are now shipping 40Gbit/s ready platforms and expect to be shipping 40Gbit/s switch blades within 12 months. System developers will be able to choose whether to support 40 Gbit/s on all blades or just a few blades giving ultimate flexibility.
In his keynote speech Anthony Ambrose, VP and GM, Communications Networks, RadiSys discussed the use of ATCA platforms in LTE networks. Network equipment providers can deliver higher integration and greater density by using 40 Gbit/s platforms reducing the capital cost per user. During a panel session on building 40Gig platforms for emerging applications, speakers from ATCA vendors and network equipment provider Procera Networks were unanimous that 40Gig platforms were becoming available quickly and would replace 10Gig platforms for many applications from 2012.
In a second panel session, speakers from ATCA vendors Continuous Computing, Kontron and RadiSys were joined by Paul Phillips, Sr. Director of System Architecture, Genband. All the panelists agreed that ATCA systems could be easily upgraded to higher performance processors and faster switching and that ATCA was the only truly scalable platform for many telecom systems. In the second keynote Paul Steinberg, Home and Networks Mobility Business, Motorola explained that Motorola had completed a full evaluation of existing ATCA based designs and alternative platforms before committing to use ATCA across a range of new systems.
Several clear messages came from the event; upgrading ATCA platforms to higher performance and density is now relatively simple. ATCA is now well established with many network equipment vendors using the platform and 40 Gbit/s switching is further expanding the use of ATCA by both existing and new users.