Interesting new things

While we tend to think of AdvancedTCA as a platform intended specifically for telecom Central Office applications, John Walrod from Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) gives us a fascinating glimpse in this month’s issue of a sophisticated sensor array system built by SAIC and deployed by the Navy in the Northern Pacific Ocean in 2005 – yes, in the ocean, not on it. This system is based on AdvancedTCA, which John argues is “arguably the best network-centric electronics platform ever invented.” An interesting aspect of this system is that it is not just a bunch of digital signal processing, but also includes sensitive low-level analog electronics for sensor signal processing. This article is a great read, and John brings a great sense of humor to the piece along with the technical details. He predicts a rosy future for AdvancedTCA in military networks, and he is very well qualified to make that assessment.


Although Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, seems to have become an integral part of virtually all next-generation networks, Faye McClenahan from Aculab reminds us that supporting the existing Public Switched Telephone Network, or PSTN, and integrating it with newer VoIP networks is important and will be important for the foreseeable future. Faye also details some of the other applications that IP-based networks offer, including presence, multimedia conferencing, and video messaging.


Speaking of VoIP, Toufic Mobarak from MobileSphere educates us on a related topic, VoIP in wireless networks, or MobileVoIP. He makes a good case that while VoIP makes sense in the wired world where bandwidth is cheap and plentiful, it makes less sense in mobile networks where bandwidth is scarce and expensive. He also points out that even the best VoIP compression algorithms are less efficient than existing mobile technologies like GSM and CDMA. And, the mobile operators have spent billions of dollars to build their networks from end to end, and they aren’t about to give up any revenue to VoIP interlopers.


IP media servers and IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) architecture are also hot topics these days, and Gil Elran from Surf Communication Solutions explains some of the dynamics going on relating to messaging protocols. Many, he argues, may appear to be open but are actually proprietary as the industry sorts itself out. Gil explains that Session Initiation Protocol, better known as SIP, will likely be the winner in a few years.


This month’s NXTcomm show tends to keep our heads full of telecom related issues and opportunities, but the embedded computing world is a large one, and many other standards are important. Among these is COM Express, the PICMG standard for a small form factor, PCI Express based, single board computer that can be used standalone or attached as a processor mezzanine to an application specific I/O carrier board. Using a COM Express board as a processor mezzanine lets equipment designers focus on their specific application by eliminating the need to design the entire processor subsystem, instead simply plugging one of the many COM Express products commercially available onto an I/O carrier board. This reduces development costs, speeds up development time, and makes processor upgrades necessitated by either performance requirements or part obsolescence a snap. Jennifer Zickel from RadiSys provides us with a tutorial on designing application specific I/O carrier boards, and reminds us there are many things to keep in mind, including mechanical considerations, interface and impedance matching issues, and noise and grounding issues.


And, don’t miss the June CompactPCI and AdvancedTCA Systems E-letter. Alex Hayward from Digital Fountain digs into some of the details surrounding packet loss and image quality in IPTV transmission and distribution.