A view from the Summit

The seventh annual Advanced/MicroTCA Summit was held in San Jose on November 1 and 2. As in previous years, the crew at Conference Concepts, headed by Dr. Lance Leventhal, did a great job organizing and running the event. Attendance was about the same as last year, and the conference program highlighted the ever-widening range of applications that use AdvancedTCA and MicroTCA. There were dozens of technical presentations and several keynote speeches by some influential movers and shakers in the embedded computer industry. I had the pleasure of introducing Dr. Roger Boss, who is currently Deputy Chief Technology Officer of the U.S. Navy’s Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR), and responsible for bringing new technologies to the Navy and other DoD agencies. Their main push is to provide more information technology and make it easier to generate and access the entire chain of command, up and down. This is a driving force across the entire military establishment, and commercial technologies like ATCA are an important part of that. Dr. Boss is a very, very interesting guy and really thinks out of the box. The Q&A session after his talk was well attended, ran long, and peppered Roger with dozens of questions on a variety of topics. You can learn more about SPAWAR at www.spawar.navy.mil.

Bon Pipkin, an Associate Director at AT&T, is responsible for worldwide equipment practices for wireline and wireless networks. He spoke about AT&T’s ATCA activities and outlined what’s right about the technology and things he would like to see in the future. One item mentioned that struck a chord with me was his view of the need for liquid cooling, as power levels on blades grow beyond what can be cooled with simply air. I personally think cooling will be a major issue in the future as we develop blades that dissipate in excess of 1,000 W. Bon is busy developing guidelines for liquid cooling within AT&T, and I look forward to working with him and other PICMG members on this topic.

One of the favorite talks at every Summit is VDC Research Group’s analysis of the ATCA and MicroTCA market sizes and growth rates. Jonathan Hastings presented a lot of data that indicates that the adoption of these technologies continues to grow at a healthy rate. He predicts a 15 percent annual CAGR for ATCA over the next several years, with about $550 million worth of CPU boards shipped in 2013. His forecasts are for CPU boards only, so the total value of systems, including chassis, switches, and so on, are higher than that. He also believes that AMCs are growing at a 29 percent CAGR and will exceed $185 million by 2015. VDC follows all of the major embedded computing platforms, and Jonathan noted that ATCA and AMCs are experiencing the highest growth rates of the segments they look at. Very good news, indeed. His complete presentation, along with all of the others, are archived at www.advancedtcasummit.com.

PICMG technologies continue to evolve, and a new product based on a new standard, MTCA.4, was showcased at the Summit by PT. MTCA.4 was created by the physics community, who is currently adapting a number of PICMG technologies for use in experimental physics. PT believes that products compliant with MTCA.4 are ideal for a wide range of applications outside of science, including communications, military, and machine control, and that it has a useful place between high-end ATCA and small, low-end MicroTCA systems. Be sure to read Tony Romero’s article in this issue.

One last note: This summer, long-time editor of CompactPCI, AdvancedTCA, and MicroTCA Systems, Anne Fisher, moved on from the world of embedded communications to pursue a career teaching elementary math. The team will miss her editorial savvy and familiarity with the communications space, and we wish her the best of luck.

An editor with OpenSystems through 2011, Brandon Lewis, has assumed her role with the magazine. He is looking forward to contributing in the way Anne did for the better part of a decade, and excited at the prospect of growing with the xTCA and CompactPCI ecosystems into new and emerging markets. Brandon is open and encourages your interaction with the publication. He is available for questions, comments, and contributions at blewis@opensystemsmedia.com.