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Motorola telecom platform banks on sector's recovery

Posted: 01 Apr 2004 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:motorola computer group? hardware platform? software platform for? advanced telecom computing architecture? advancedtca?

Calling a telecom rebound imminent, Motorola Computer Group has unveiled a hardware and software platform for next-generation telecommunications equipment.

Based in part on the Advanced Telecom Computing Architecture, or AdvancedTCA, from the PCI Industrial Computer Manufacturers Group, the platform will target builders of network telecom gear like switches and routers.

The introduction is a sign that the computing giant Motorola sees a better business climate on the horizon for the telecom sector. Some skeptics argue that equipment makers remain too cash-poor to afford the technology but Motorola disagrees.

"A lot of equipment manufacturers are now coming out of their deep and dark periods of the last two years," said John Fryer, director of marketing for advanced platform operations in the Motorola Computer Group. "The industry is coming back to life and operators are looking to develop new products and services," Fryer added.

Motorola will offer equipment builders what it calls an Application-Enabling Platform, a preintegrated and prevalidated foundation designed to cut development time and costs. The platform will include industry-standard hardware, software and middleware, and application-specific protocols.

By enabling equipment makers to build off a vendor foundation, the technology is a stark departure from business as usual for OEMs, Motorola said. "Traditionally, every equipment manufacturer has poured huge amounts of effort into development, and has done everything themselves," Fryer said. "Now they're realizing that it doesn't give them a competitive advantage in the marketplace."

Motorola said it will launch its new platform this week with components based on PICMG's CompactPCI 2.16 standards.

In a series of events slated for later this year, Motorola will also deliver Application-Enabling components based on the highly publicized AdvancedTCA platform. The platform will include application processor blades, control processor blades, network processor blades, packet processor blades, media processor blades and packet voice blades. Several blades will be based on Intel Pentium III, Pentium III-M (mobile) and Pentium 4 processors.

The technology is expected to handle up to 2.5 terabits of data/second in a single shelf, but requires new cooling technologies because each board dissipates 200W. AdvancedTCA is believed to be the biggest project ever undertaken by embedded suppliers, who logged 11,000 hours of teleconferences in 2002 writing the specifications.

Who's got the money?

Skeptics, especially those in competing arenas like the VMEbus International Trade Association, insist that Advanced-TCA is doomed because cash-strapped telecom equipment makers have neither the money nor the engineering resources to adopt such new technologies. At the nadir of the industry's economic downturn, they say, more than $2 trillion in market value was wiped out among telecom's biggest players.

Still, Motorola is saying that the time is right for such a rollout. "That's exactly why this is the right time to introduce this technology," said Ken Newton, a marketing programs manager for Motorola Computer Group.

In the long run, an analyst said, Moto wins. "The economy will have a short-term effect on AdvancedTCA," said Eric Gulliksen, project director for Venture Development Corp. "But once the cash crunch frees up, the telecom industry will go right to it."

Charles Murray

EE Times

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