3/28/2005 - Kontron is positioning itself as the pioneer of the new Mezzanine Specification AMC. The company is presenting its first Advanced Mezzanine Card with the highly integrated processor module AM4001. In the course of the ATCA (Advanced Telecom Computing Architecture, PICMG 3.x) specification, defined by the PICMG Committee, AMC (Advanced Mezzanine Card, PICMG AMC.x) seems to be the most significant aspect of the ATCA.
Kontron has recognized the significance of the new Mezzanine concept, even beyond the ATCA applications and is deliberately pursuing the 'AMC everywhere' approach, which is based crucially on the flexible deployment of AMCs. For this reason the company has created its own branding and a broad range of AMC modules for data processing, storage, I/O and other tasks in its portfolio. The principle of AMC is similar to the well-known PMC (PCI Mezzanine Card), but complements it with several important functionalities, which, for example, qualifies the AMC concept for the so-called "five nines" high availability at carrier-level. Bridges can be built with AMCs between standard technology (Commercial off-the-shelf, abbreviated: COTS) and customer-specific applications, because they are flexible, powerful and easy to integrate on proprietary (manufacturer's) platforms. They contribute significantly to cost reduction and accelerate market launch times for new products.
Kontron's AMC AM4001 has outstanding features, which qualify it for the use under 99,999-percent carrier grade availability: it communicates via high-performance serial interconnects with the help of various modern transport mechanisms such as Gigabit Ethernet and PCI Express (PCIe), is hot swappable and can be removed from the systems or inserted in it while it is in operation - without incurring any loss of data. The core piece of the AM4001 is an Intel Pentium M 760 processor with 2.0 GHz and a high-performance Intel E7320 chip set. It has up to 4 GB DDR-II memory (PC400) and supports the standards AMC.1 (PCIe), AMC.2 (Gigabit Ethernet) and AMC.3 (Serial ATA). AM4001 is available as single-width module with various processor options and as half-height and full-height versions. The module is inserted and removed simply from the front side of the device, without disturbing the operation of the carrier card or the other Mezzanine cards. The hot swapability of the modules is supported by the integrated intelligent module management IPMI (Intelligent Platform Management Interface) and guarantees the compatibility between ATCA carrier card and module. The AM4001 supports carrier grade software such as MontaVista Linux Carrier Grade Edition.
Compatible with this, Kontron is introducing the first ATCA board to the market with its AT8001, which supports the AMC specification. Depending on the AMC module, the board's I/O functionality or processor performance can be individually adjusted, thereby significantly increasing flexibility and scalability. The AM4001 is the ideal complementary product for the AT8001 to extend the processor performance on demand.
'AMC everywhere': A promising approach
The deployment of AMC modules on appropriate carriers significantly increases the scalability and the flexibility during system development. Aside from telecommunication, AMCs can also be used in other industrial segments such as government, medical, or industrial applications. The 'AMC everywhere' approach enables Kontron to follow this flexible approach of AMCs significantly. The company has created its own branding for this purpose and its own broad range of AMC-modules for data processing, storage, I/O- and other tasks in its portfolio; complemented by an extensive offer of 'AMC-everywhere' ATCA circuit boards such as ATCA carrier boards, CPU and hub boards.
Additional to ATCA, two specific deployment areas have emerged for AMC: the so-called MicroTCA concept, as well as the proprietary systems. All three segments - ATCA, MicroTCA and proprietary systems - open up significant market potential, amounting to several tens of thousands of units every year for each function. Behind the MicroTCA concept there lies the approach of not mounting the AMCs on an ATCA board, but inserting them directly into a backplane (without carrier card). The idea of "AMC direct to backplane" extends the range of applications for AMCs into the low-end region of cost-critical applications, such as base stations (wireless), access units (wire line) or small-scale network elements. A second idea is to use AMCs on proprietary form factor base boards in legacy telecom systems. This approach permits a gentle transition of pure proprietary technology via proprietary carrier boards with COTS AMCs all the way to 100-percent ATCA systems.
Originally "only" developed as a support for the ATCA standard, AMC is gradually establishing itself as a flexible, quick and economic Mezzanine concept for various applications. Kontron will introduce further AMC products within the framework of the 'AMC everywhere' approach during the year.
Kontron Modular Computers GmbH
87600 Kaufbeuren, Germany
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