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Cute little MicroTCA box comes with Linux

Dec 20, 2007 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 9 views

Kontron has announced a cute little 3U, five-slot MicroTCA system that will ship pre-installed with Wind River Linux. The OM6040 boasts “single-star” PCI Express (PCIe) and Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) backplanes, and support for either PowerPC- or IA-based AMC (advanced mezzanine card) processor modules.

(Click for larger view of the Kontron OM6040)

Kontron positions the OM6040 as an inexpensive system suitable for technical feasibility studies, and for validating the design of multi-core MicroTCA systems. Kontron lists target applications for the OM6040 that include 3GSM, triple play, malitary, police, government and avionics. Another target use is image/video processing applications in medical, simulation, and industrial quality management laboratories.

The Kontron OM6040's chassis, supplied by case and backplane supplier Schroff, is “3U” high, 9.8-inch deep and 6.1-inch wide. It contains an AC power supply and fans mounted with upward airflow into the AMC slots.

OM 6040 configuration diagram
(Click to enlarge)

The OM6040 has four full-size AMC slots, two of which support hard drives. The OM6040 comes standard with an AM4500 60GB SATA hard drive AMC module, although point-to-point SAS (serially attached SCSI) drives are also supported, Kontron said.

The OM6040's “single-star” backplane distributes GbE and PCIe connections to each of the four full-size AMC slots. The system's full-sized MCH (MicroTCA controller hub) supports 6 x GbE ports to the AMCs, plus one GbE port for external interconnect. It also supports 4x PCIe lanes to each slot. Alternatively, customers can swap out the MCH for one supporting Serial Rapid IO instead of PCIe, Kontron said.

PrAMC choice

The OM6040 offers a choice of processor modules. The standard configuration includes the Kontron AM4010 AMC module. Based on an Intel 3100 chipset, it supports an array of LV and ULV (low and ultra-low voltage) Core Duo and Core 2 Duo processors, at speeds up to 1.66GHz. The board takes up to 2GB of registered, 400MHz DDR2 memory with ECC (error checking and correcting). An onboard USB 2.0 flash controller supports up to 4GB of flash.

IA-based AM4010 (left) and PPC-based AM4100 (right)
(Click either to enlarge)

The optional PPC-based AM4100 AMC module is based on Freescale's first-ever dual-core PowerPC processor, the MPC8641D, clocked at 1.5GHz. The processor's DSP-like Altivec vector processing unit (VPU) supports signal-processing applications, Kontron said. The module supports up to 2GB of 533MHz DDR2 ECC memory.

On the software side, the OM6040's AMCs will come pre-installed with Wind River's telecom Linux distro, Kontron said. Kontron agreed to bundle Platform for Network Equipment with its MicroTCA and AMC hardware products more than a year ago, but has apparently gone on to offer pre-installation as well.

MicroTCA is a smaller, lower-cost version of AdvancedTCA. Both are PICMG (PCI Industrial Computer Manufacturer's Group) specs aimed at boosting business efficiencies for telecom equipment manufacturers (TEMs), by letting them use off-the-shelf hardware and software to build interoperable devices. In a 2005 study, market research firm ABI predicted that the arrival of MicroTCA would greatly extend the market reach of modular communications platforms (i.e., ATCA), by enabling their use in smaller, cost-conscious applications.


The Kontron OM6040 platform and related modules are available now at an undisclosed price. More information is available here.

Kontron also offers larger “modular platforms” supporting up to 12 AdvancedMCs, dual-star backplanes, and redundant MCHs, it said.

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