News, specifications updates, and more

Welcome to the newest issue of PICMG Systems and Technology. In this issue you will learn about COM-HPC from leading members of the committee, get a detailed update on our IIoT initiatives, and find articles about MicroTCA and CompactPCI serial applications.

The PICMG organization enters 2020 with significant energy after a productive 2019, with more than 50 companies actively participating across five committees. Engagement among our 130 members, including a dozen new ones, continues to increase, leading to a robust community dedicated to the development and promotion of open specifications for embedded computing. We expect that many of these efforts will lead to ratification of new and revised specifications in 2020.

COM-HPC and IIoT have each made incredible progress over the past year; moreover, I am pleased to announce our two newest initiatives: a significant revision to CompactPCI Serial and the next generation of MicroTCA specifications. To learn more and/or join the new initiatives, please contact PICMG ([email protected])

COM-HPC gains momentum

Over the past year, activity behind the COM-HPC initiative has intensified: The team of 20-plus companies reached significant milestones in 2019, including approving the pinout of the new high-performance Computer-on-Module specification. Now – with adoption of this pinout – all committee members have a solid basis from which to work on standard-compliant carrier board designs that offer interfaces supporting up to 100 GbE and PCIe Gen 4.0 and Gen 5.0, with up to eight DIMM sockets, and high-speed processors of more than 200 watts on standardized COM-HPC modules. The initial specification is expected to be ratified in the first half of 2020; early spec-compatible products are in the design phase. To accelerate development efforts, the committee formed two subgroups focusing on signal integrity challenges and defining management software elements of the new specification.

IIoT efforts move forward

Doug Sandy – VP of technology for PICMG – continues to lead our IIoT initiatives related to the sensor domain. Our aggressive approach to advance IIoT encourages a firewalled, secure network architecture supporting a variety of synchronization methods, plus a uniform data model that scales down to the sensor domain through binary encoding. Two formal technical subcommittees were created. One is focused on the hardware component of connecting sensors and actuators into the secure network, while the other is aimed at defining three key components: a binary sensor data model for IIoT, a Redfish sensor data model/schema, and network architecture specifications. This combination of initiatives will provide plug-and-play interoperability at the sensor domain to the “last foot” of the IIoT network.

CompactPCI Serial extension underway

CompactPCI Serial is a modern modular computer standard based on proven mechanics in use. Key features are simplicity, flexibility, and robustness, thereby enabling cost-optimized solutions. This technical subcommittee has the goal of extending the current CompactPCI Serial specification with an update covering requirements for modern high-speed applications; the subcommittee will strive for maximum interoperability between the current revision and extension. The market for CompactPCI Serial continues to grow in industrial automation and transportation; extending the standard will guarantee the further success of that technology.

The committee’s stated goals are to support PCIe Gen4 and Gen5; add Ethernet KR4 support; evaluate USB4; support a redundant system slot like CompactPCI Serial for Space; and recommend robust “utility connector” with locks or screws.

EKF, Hartmann, and nVent are sponsoring this effort.

Defining the next generation of MicroTCA

The newly formed committee will define the next generation of the MicroTCA specification, addressing the ever-increasing demand for power and throughput. New components will expand the modules and sub-parts defined in previous revisions of the standard. Full backward compatibility will be maintained for all non-fat-pipes-switching related components. A new approach expects to separate MCH sections for management/common options/clocks and fat-pipe switching to overcome current limitations in the throughput of fat pipes. This move will enable implementation of additional communication protocols such as 100 Gb Ethernet and PCIe Gen4 and Gen5 while keeping the design flexible enough to allow future developments.

Committee goals are to support PCI Gen5; increase power per slot to 160 watts or 240 watts with a potential additional and optional AMC power plug and PM plug; overcome the 80-watt limitation for AMCs in current systems at full backward compatibility; overcome the 40 Gbps limitation for fat-pipe bandwidth; separate completely the existing 12 V payload from new optional payload power; and improve cooling. The committee also seeks to optimize backplane layout and define routing guidelines, achieve physical separation of base MCH and fat-pipe switching, and maintain full compatibility with existing modules as far as possible

This effort is sponsored by DESY, ESS, Lodz University of Technology, N.A.T., and nVent.

I encourage you to learn more about these ongoing efforts and join PICMG to participate. Visit us at