PICMG Releases New Design Guide for Physics Instrumentation Applications


WAKEFIELD, Mass., May 23, 2013 – PICMG®, a leading standards organization for the communications, military and embedded computer industries, is pleased to announce a new Design Guide intended to add features to PICMG’s popular AdvancedTCA® (ATCA®) and MicroTCA® platforms for physics instrumentation applications. Originally developed for telecommunications, AdvancedTCA and MicroTCA have been widely adopted in that market and are now increasingly popular in both military and physics applications. The High Availability characteristics of the platforms, which facilitate continuous operation in the event of component and subsystem failures, are important for “Big Physics” high energy physics installations. AdvancedTCA and MicroTCA are being used in both the CERN particle accelerator in Geneva, Switzerland, and ITER, the largest and multi-national plasma fusion research experiment in the world, located in France.

The Physics Design Guide provides guidance on building systems with thousands of sub-nanosecond resolution data acquisition channels.

“Physics research of plasma fusion, particle accelerators, and many other large, distributed experiments require a high number of perfectly synchronized acquisition channels, time-accurate real-time control of the machine and support for time-stamped data transport and storage. Through the launch of the PICMG Physics Design Guide document, the previously released Physics ATCA and MicroTCA specifications have been extended to cover the complex timing requirements of the new generation of these highly available large-scale physics systems.” Stated Jorge Sousa from the Instituto de Plasmas e Fusão Nuclear (IPFN). A leader of the effort.

“The Design Guide, formally known as PDG.0, is a guide to the new clocking and timing (C&T) resources available for physics instrumentation. It introduces and discusses new C&T distribution methods while providing details that maintain backwards compatibility with the ATCA Specification and forward compatibility with MTCA.4, a MicroTCA variant developed for physics. The guide also presents new signal types for event characterization, time-stamping and absolute time distribution, as well as C&T implementation examples.”

More than 40 companies and research labs were involved with the development of the Physics Design Guide, which is posted on, and may be downloaded from, the PICMG web site.

Click here to download the Physics Design Guide


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.