Pound cake, I am told, has a very simple recipe: one pound of butter, one pound of flour, one pound of eggs, and one pound of sugar. If you want to make a pound cake, all you need to do is combine these ingredients, bake at the appropriate temperature, and voila! Pound cake! Part of the beauty of this process (besides the easy to remember recipe) is that the ingredients don’t all need to come from specific sources.
Imagine for a moment if this was not the case. Suppose butter from one dairy worked, but butter from another dairy did not. Or even worse, butter form one dairy would only work with sugar and flour from specific suppliers, while butter from another dairy only worked with a completely different set. All of a sudden making pound cake just got a lot more difficult.
In a sense, the PICMG 3.1 (AdvancedTCA) technical subcommittee is trying to make 100Gb Ethernet as simple as creating pound cake. Combining boards from one vendor, switches from another, and backplanes from yet another will always result in a working 100Gb system. Those of you who are familiar with high speed design understand this is not an easy thing to do. With signals in excess of 25GHz, every part of the system must be accounted for and there is little margin for error.
Fortunately, PICMG has some of the best high-speed design experts in the world focused on this problem. The work, which began early this year, is progressing steadily and we are on target to compete the spec in the first quarter of 2016. With full multi-vendor interoperability, backward compatibility and 100Gb operation, the newest generation of AdvancedTCA products will let you have your cake and eat it too.
Doug Sandy | Chief Technology Officer