Timing and fabric changes boost MicroTCA system design

May 02, 2014 //By Nick Flaherty
Timing and fabric changes boost MicroTCA system design
A MicroTCA Carrier Hub (MCH) with advanced clocking and flexible fabric support is changing the way module-based systems can be developed.

The UTC004 MCH is VadaTech's third generation module with several unique features that the company says will transform the capability of a MicroTCA-based solution. The UTC004’s 40GbE option is a 4x boost in performance from today’s 10GbE solutions and also provides PCIe Gen 3, SRIO Gen 2, and a crossbar switch (CBS) option. This allows any fabric to be used, including custom designs.

A key feature of the UTC004 is the advanced clocking/synchronization capability. This enables highly flexible master/slave clock and time synchronization to multiple clocking standards including GPS, IEEE1588 (PTP), SyncE, and NTP. The MCH bridges these standards together to provide Grand Master Clock capability to the chassis network.

For backplane and front panel clocking, the MCH features a low-latency, low-jitter, low-skew M-LVDS clock matrix to ensure the best possible backplane clocking solution. A quad PLL clock network synchronizer enables synchronizing clocks with hitless failover referenced to clocks/pulses coming from the front panel, backplane, on-board GPS/IEEE1588 (PTP)/NTP 1PPS, or SyncE ports. These PLLs can then jitter clean or synthesize arbitrary frequency clocks and pulses to output to the front panel or backplane with up to Stratum-3 holdover criteria.

The result of all of these features is precision timing, aligned frequency/phase of the signals, and eliminating the risk of packet loss due to buffer overflow. These features are important for Communications, MIL/Aero, and Physics applications where synchronized timing is critical.

In addition to a management Ethernet RJ45 port, the MCH provides a base channel Ethernet fabric with two front panel 10GBase-T RJ-45 ports for 20Gb combined uplink bandwidth as standard. When a Fat Pipes fabric is ordered, additional uplink ports are provided such as QSFP+, Dual SFP+, or Dual 10GBase-T RJ45 for Fat Pipes fabric uplink; providing up to an additional 40Gb of uplink bandwidth.

Another feature of the UTC004 is a JTAG Virtual Probe. Typically, an option in MicroTCA systems is a JTAG Switch Module for attaching a dongle


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