Turning 100

We have been writing quite a bit lately about “AdvancedTCA Turns 10,” as work began on that specification in 2001. But a well-known company in our market space turned 100 in June. That company, originally known as the Computing Tabulating Recording Corporation – now known as IBM – opened its doors in 1911. We think about IBM as a premier technology company, and it certainly is that, but the real key to IBM’s success has been not to push a particular product or technology, but rather to package technology to help businesses operate more efficiently. It is that idea that has allowed IBM to survive and generally prosper. Over the last century, it has provided the business world with an ever-evolving range of products – from punch card tabulators to mainframes to magnetic tape storage systems to PCs and (more recently) consulting and services.

IBM’s engineers and scientists have invented an enormous amount of technology along the way, including hard and floppy disks, DRAM, relational databases, and the Universal Product Code. The company holds more patents than any other American technology company. But these technologies came about not for the sake of technology, but rather to further the idea of making products to allow businesses to run better.

Other companies share this model. Apple, for example, has never developed any basic technology that I can determine, but rather repackages technology – laptop and desktop computers, music players, smartphones, and tablets – and makes these products elegant and easy to use. Apple commands premium prices in the market as a result of focusing on an idea. Similarly, Amazon’s founders made it easy to buy over the Internet. It doesn’t really matter what is being sold, Amazon makes sure it is easy to buy.

These companies, who concentrate on an idea, might also make it to 100. Companies who focus on a particular technology, like Dell (PCs), Cisco (routers), and Microsoft (Windows) might have a tougher time.

In our world great ideas often need great technology to bring them to fruition. And bringing you the latest technology advances and challenges is what this publication is about.

40 G AdvancedTCA remains a hot topic. In the July E-letter (http://opsy.st/nzw525), Ovidiu Mesesan (Elma Bustronic) details the issues that must be taken into account when designing 40 G AdvancedTCA backplanes, and Venkataraman Prasannan (RadiSys) gives us a high-altitude view of 40 G system issues and the need for careful systems integration.

In this issue, Dr. Mathias Hellwig (Emerson Network Power) offers a tutorial on bit error rates and channel modeling for 40 G systems. Moving away from 40 G technical issues, Austin Hipes (NEI) discusses virtualization in AdvancedTCA systems and explores the need for flexible and dynamic provisioning that can adapt to changing data traffic patterns in operational systems. On another note, Tom Roberts (Mercury Computer) provides an interesting application example using Serial RapidIO-based AdvancedTCA systems for testing the performance of other AdvancedTCA systems. The low latency and determinism that SRIO offers is key. Rounding out the articles Trevor Hiatt (IDT) discusses RapidIO and moving from interconnect to server mode. This issue’s Software Corner by Curt Schwaderer has something for anyone who needs solid footing in the comprehension of network intelligence, a topic growing warmer by the minute.

Joe Pavlat, Editorial Director