The PCI Industrial Computers Manufacturers Group (PICMG) has selected the name AdvancedTCA (Advanced Telecom Computing Architecture) for its 3.x series of specifications for next-generation telecommunications equipment.
The AdvancedTCA specifications, beginning with the core specification PICMG 3.0, are aimed at further expanding the market for off-the-shelf, modular solutions for carrier grade communications equipment, a move that was begun by the CompactPCI specifications (PICMG 2.x series).
Added to the AdvancedTCA family tree are PICMG 3.1 for Ethernet fabric, PICMG 3.2 for InfiniBand, and PICMG 3.3 for StarFabric.
PICMG 3.1 is a co-specification that will add to the core AdvancedTCA specification the capability of supporting Ethernet data link (L2) and physical layers (L1) over the PICMG 3.0 generic backplane fabric interconnect. PICMG 3.1 will define all elements necessary for interoperability between multi-vendor PICMG 3.1 products, including but not limited to specific bit rates, bit rate negotiation, pin mapping, physical and/or logical address mapping, specific backplane topologies, mechanical/electronic keying, hot swap, powerup/initialization, fabric specific system management, signal integrity validation, low level fault detection recovery/reporting and options for both redundant and/or multi-fabric architectures.
PICMG 3.2 will describe a PICMG 3.0 compliant system using InfiniBand backplane interconnect. The proposed PICMG 3.2 specification uses InfiniBand physical layers and protocols in a PICMG 3.0 compliant backplane to interconnect a number of circuit boards on a shelf. Several different backplane interconnection topologies are available, including dual star, quad star and full mesh. InfiniBand signalling rates of 2.5Gb/s (and optionally up to 1OGb/s) are supported on each link.
PICMG 3.2 will define how InfiniBand transport is mapped onto the AdvancedTCA base. It will specify the link physical layers, protocols, and protocol mappings needed to implement multivendor, interoperable systems. Specification of addressing schemes, virtual lane mappings, initialization, keying, hot swap support, and hardware management will be included. PICMG 3.2 will fully comply with, and build upon, the base provided by PICMG 3.0, including mechanical design, power, cooling and hardware management framework, and will coexist with and complement the other AdvancedTCA specifications.
The proposed PICMG 3.3 StarFabric interconnect specification will define a redundant, pointto-point, high-speed serial interconnect within a PICMG 3.0 chassis providing TDM, control, cell, and packet connectivity among all slots using a single interconnect. StarFabric is a universal switched interconnect developed by StarGen, Inc. The specification will enable system development with the StarFabric 2.5Gb/s and 1OGb/s physical layers.
The PICMG 3.3 specification will also be applicable to distributed computing systems. With its memory mapped, load store programming model, StarFabric provides both an efficient loosely coupled processor-to-processor communication as well as a processor to dumb I/0 communication at multiGigabit rates. A related StarFabric initiative in the highly successful CompactPCI series of specifications, PICMG 2.17, was kicked off in July 2001 and is nearing completion. When ratified, the PICMG 2.17 specification will extend the life of CompactPCI systems by adding a high speed switched interconnect technology to the standard CompactPCI chassis.
For applications requiring additional board and backplane capacity or calling for greater board spacing due to processor power requirements, the PICMG 3.3 effort will allow developers to maintain their current investment in StarFabric. StarFabric is a multi-layered protocol that provides PCI software compatibility. The higher bandwidth capability in the PICMG 3.3 specification also provides a standards-based approach for routing high speed StarFabric links on a backplane.