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Switching from form factors to services

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The Embedded Computer Industry’s has achieved a wide acceptance of its modular xTCA embedded form factors with their packet switching backplanes. Due to their wide range of specifications ranging from AdvancedTCA and AdvancedMC to MicroTCA, and also available for rugged environments, they target a wide range of potential applications. But is this universality of potential use a benefit to the customer? Of course! But customers demand more…

On the one hand, customers value the freedom to freely choose components such as CPU boards, switches, MCHs, power supplies, and racks from different vendors including second source. On the other hand, customers do not want to spend too much time on hardware integration, but prefer instead to concentrate on the development of their applications. Therefore, more and more customers favor complete, ready-to-run hardware solutions and pre-integrated platforms. Kontron has accordingly intensified its investment in system functionalities and today offers not only CPU boards, hubs, switches, MCHs, and I/O and storage modules, but also pre-integrated xTCA platforms containing all the standard components needed to build dedicated systems. Pre-integrated systems include telecom carrier grade ATCA and MicroTCA systems with full-fledged MicroTCA Carrier Hubs. For industrial applications, Kontron offers cost-optimized MicroTCA platforms with implemented system management software on the carrier board, eliminating extra components for shelf management and power modules.

Switching Competence

To be able to deliver such a wide range of pre-integrated platforms, one of the most essential components besides the CPU-board is the switching technology. Kontron offers, therefore, a wide range of attractive modular ATCA Hubs and versatile Micro TCA Carrier Hubs. The modular design of the Kontron AT890x ATCA hub family, for example, enables existing installations to be upgraded rather than to require the whole hub to be replaced. For MicroTCA, the latest development is the Kontron AM4910 MCH (see box). Designed for MicroTCA environments, it implements a switching design which can also be made available in other form factors, such as the upcoming VPX, and which is also attractive for Compact PCI and OEM-specific designs for which Kontron offers a dedicated ODM (Original Design and Manufacturing) Service.

Service is the key

This flexibility greatly benefits customers. They’re not interested in talking with advocates of a single form factor or specification; they want to have their problems solved independently of these limitations. But such advice can only be truly offered by vendors that serve a wide range of standard embedded form factors and also provide OEM custom designs, re-using, for example, a MicroTCA design for other corresponding form factors. Kontron offers not only modular boards and systems based on AdvancedTCA, AdvancedMC, MicroTCA, 3U and 6U Compact PCI® plus corresponding VME, and VPX form factors, but also 19-inch servers based on, e.g., server-grade EATX motherboards. This wide range of embedded computer technology, plus related integration and customization services, provides customers with the ideal basis by which they can decide on the optimal hardware platform for their dedicated OEM system. By offering these technologies in pre-integrated configurations, they have the chance to purchase the hardware platform from a single source and thus can concentrate their energies on their core competences.

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