One of the hottest areas of telecom is the open standards building block area, especially the ATCA and more recently MicroTCA spaces. The reason for the growth in open standards components is obvious. As technology markets move more rapidly and become commoditized at the same time, many equipment manufacturers are realizing they would rather be in the software business and not hardware.
So a company who once spent millions developing proprietary transcoding hardware will likely decide it makes sense to write transcoding solutions which run on ATCA-based systems instead. Why? There are a number of reasons. One is the fact that open-systems like ATCA are being embraced in a number of industries besides telecom. Gaming, defense, automotive, medical, industrial, traffic control and test and measurement are just some of the spaces embracing ATCA. As the adoption of such open systems increases so does the performance per dollar. As open systems are applied to industries which were once proprietary, these industries can see more rapid acceleration of the performance of their systems.
I have met with Intel executives over the years and have always been impressed at the communications ecosystem they had developed around the ATCA standard. I have even witnessed acquisitions of companies which happened because both the buyer and seller were based on ATCA.
One person who I have met with often at Intel is Anthony Abrose and more recently Anthony has gone to work for Intel partner RadiSys as VP and General Manager of the Communications and Networking Business Unit. Anthony is pretty direct and no-nonsense when he tells me about the future of the company in response to my query.
Anthony says he didn’t leave Intel after 23 years to be #2 and as such his ambition is to have Radisys be the number one supplier of ATCA platforms in the world. He further goes on to say they have the design win funnel to support this claim.
One item he mentioned as a market first was the Promentum ATCA-9100 Media Resource Module which is built on a flexible and powerful architecture capable of hosting up to 20 multi-core MSC8144 DSPs from Freescale Semiconductor. This module extends the SYS-6010 ATCA platform for applications requiring high performance media processing.
Anthony tells me the pain they reduce for customers is simply making ATCA easy as many of their customers find it beneficial to source at the platform level.
I asked about the primary roadblocks to success and he responded the time lag between customers agreeing to go forward to production.
I asked how ACTA will change the telecom business and he said we are past the days when a company needed to make their own infrastructure. He said TEMs are in the application layer now and not the hardware layer. He did mention base stations as an exception. As telecom moves faster he alluded to the need to move to platforms like ATCA.
Ambrose is obviously optimistic and it remains to be seen how long the company will wait for the massive orders to turn into production systems. In the end, as companies like RadiSys and other ATCA players grow stronger, the whole open platform ecosystem grows as well and all industries based on platforms like ATCA and MicroTCA will benefit.