Know your Tech: MicroTCA

The Micro Telecommunications Architecture - MicroTCA is a standard for open modular systems based on AMCs (Advanced Mezzanine Cards); circuit boards that follow the standards of PCI Industrial Computers Manufacturers Group (PICMG) for embedded communications and carrier grade telecom equiment. Designed to address high communication bandwidth, high processing capacity and high availability requirements, MicroTCA platforms have enough bandwidth for the most challenging applications, which is why although originally developed as a telecommunications standard, MicroTCA has generated high interest among system designers beyond the telecommunications arena for a wide range of applications, including defense, government, aerospace, industrial automation and medical streams.

In part the reason for such use is that applications in spaces have very similar requirements of high communication bandwidth and high computing power in a small form factor; the minimum size of a single width module is only 2.9x 7.2 inches. MicroTCA allows a single backplane to incorporate 12 computing blades, which allows for a huge computing power with communication bandwidth capabilities that can range from 40 Gbits/sec to over 1Tbits/sec.

Some of the features that MicroTCA provides are:

1. Full compliance with the AMC.0 Module definition 2. Favorable cost, size and modularity 3. Cooling: 20-80 W per Advanced MC slot 4. Standardized Shelf management implementation compatible with AdvancedTCA 5. Scalable backplane bandwidth 6. Various backplane topologies: Star, Dual Star, Mesh 7. Massive data bandwidth on backplane via 1/10GbE, sRIO or PCIe serial interconnects 8. Scalable performance via multi-processor concept.


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