PICMG Ratifies PICMG 3.7 AdvancedTCA Extensions Specification for Telecom and Data Center Applications

WAKEFIELD, Mass., February, 2015 – PICMG, a leading standards organization for the communications, military and embedded computer industries, announces the adoption of the AdvancedTCA Extensions (PICMG 3.7) specification. PICMG 3.0 AdvancedTCA (ATCA) was originally created in 2003 to meet the needs of the Telecom market for an open standard computing platform. To better address markets other than Telecom, and to utilize the available depth in server cabinets, PICMG developed a set of extensions to the existing ATCA specification. The extensions include; a dual-sided shelf that can hold up to 28 Front Boards (existing ATCA boards) in a 19” cabinet, new board types, additional power and cooling, options for data center optimized  input voltage range, and an increase in the Base Interface bandwidth. All of these extensions to ATCA were developed with backward compatibility in mind.

The original ATCA specification allows for boards that are more than one slot wide, but gives almost no information about how to make them. The ATCA Extensions specification gives detailed implementation information and examples for wider boards that can dissipate up to 800 watts each.

There has been lot of interest in increasing the size of an ATCA board to accommodate physically larger DIMMs and bigger processor heat sinks. Changing the board size would break backward compatibility and fragment the ATCA market. A better solution is a dual-sided shelf defined in PICMG 3.7. The ATCA Extensions dual-sided shelf can be viewed as two ATCA systems back-to-back with common mechanics, Hardware Platform Management and power input.

“PICMG 3.7 not only permits double deep systems, but double wide boards that can dissipate up to 800 watts each are fully defined. This allows the use of low cost commercial DIMM memory and larger CPU heat sinks.” says Michael Thompson of Pentair/Schroff.”

The ATCA Extensions specification adds FRU data records that describe the power supply to PEM connections. With these enhancements, the Shelf Manager can determine what Feed in the PEM powers a FB or EB, and what power supply is connected to the Feed in the PEM. This is very useful in the event of a failure because the Shelf Manager can detect critical situations where redundancy no longer exists and prevent the removal of a power supply that is the only source of power for a FB or EB.

PICMG 3.7 meets the market need for increased board space and power while maintaining backward compatibility with existing ATCA boards and software. This will speed adoption because a large selection of blades is already available. The new board types defined in ATCA Extensions will allow for much higher performance systems, and extend the life of ATCA products.

A presentation explaining many of the features of ATCA Extensions can be found in the “AdvancedTCA” section of the PICMG web site, www.picmg.org

Click here for the presentation


Founded in 1994 as the PCI Industrial Computer Manufacturers Group, PICMG is a consortium of over 250 companies that collaboratively develops open specifications for high performance telecommunications, military and industrial computing applications.

For information about PICMG membership, or to find out how to obtain PICMG specifications, visit the PICMG website at https://www.picmg.org or call PICMG headquarters at (781) 246-9318.