Communications Insider: March 2009: Volume 4 Issue 1
Rugged MicroTCA.1 Nears Adoption
As you may remember, efforts by PICMG® members to develop a rugged version of MicroTCA™ eventually resulted in the formation of three distinct Sub-Committees: Rugged MicroTCA.1 (Air-Cooled), Hardened MicroTCA.2 (Air-Cooled), and Hardened MicroTCA.3 (Conduction-Cooled).
At this time, only the Rugged MicroTCA.1 Air Cooled specification (µTCA-R) has progressed to the point of being submitted to PICMG for adoption and release. The Hardened versions are targeted toward more demanding applications which require greater resistance to both thermal and mechanical stresses. As a result, the Hardened specifications have required more time to develop.
With the current proposal of four specifications for MicroTCA in PICMG, it was believed that an overview document, non-normative (no requirements), was needed to introduce each spec and the concepts & reasons for each, plus interrelationships. This document would be called the MicroTCA Guide, and it would provide an overview of MTCA.0 through MTCA.3. The diagram below (from the Rugged MTCA.1 Sub-Committee work) helps to clarify the relationships of the various specifications.
Suitable for Many Applications
The good news is that, as it currently stands, Rugged MicroTCA.1 is indeed a suitable option for the applications it has targeted, based on the known demands of the relevant industries. Rugged MicroTCA.1 should be a welcome addition to the current range of options available to system designers.
Worth the Wait
As currently written, air-cooled Rugged MicroTCA.1 would allow board manufacturers to claim compliance with thermal specification independently of mechanical specification. Each of these levels is backed up by an explicit testing protocol, including setups and procedures. Since there are two levels of thermal and mechanical severity, there will be 9 conceivable MicroTCA variants as shown in the table.
Hardened MicroTCA.3 Work Continues
The Hardened MTCA.3 Conduction-Cooled Sub-Committee is very active, with weekly meetings covering mechanical, connector and environmental issues associated with implementing MicroTCA and AdvancedMC™ in the Conduction-Cooled world of Mil/Aero/industrial. There continues to be a great deal of participation. There has not been as much activity on the Hardened MicroTCA.2 Air-Cooled Specification and the future of the effort is unclear. However, a conduction-cooled variant of MicroTCA would appear to be a near certainty in the future.