Perhaps the biggest concern for MicroTCA is ruggedization. The PICMG standards body has a subcommittee investigating standardizing rugged implementations of MicroTCA, and ruggedized MicroTCA options are already available. Concerns about the MicroTCA edge connector become less of an issue in conduction-cooled deployment, because each card is physically bound to the chassis. For this reason, it is possible that conduction-cooled MicroTCA will become common before “soft rugged” implementations that do not require conduction cooling.
CompactPCI’s high bandwidth, ruggedness, and familiar computing paradigm have made it a preferred form factor for many types of applications. CompactPCI is available in both 3U and 6U form factors to meet connectivity and rear I/O requirements, providing a versatility attractive to system designers. CPU blades allow a CompactPCI solution with the same processor and chipset to be deployed in rugged air-cooled or conduction- cooled systems, via either a 3U or 6U processor blade. Both boards provide similar capabilities and connectivity, which gives the system engineer the building blocks needed for maximum flexibility when selecting architecture. As the pressure to reduce size and weight intensifies, the smaller 3U CompactPCI is gaining popularity. The 3U form factor also offers ruggedization benefits due to its significantly greater stiffness, making it less susceptible to shock and vibration.
VME boards and platforms continue to have a secure foothold throughout applications that demand ruggedness and reliability. Similar to CompactPCI, VME is available in the 3U or 6U form factor, offering designers several options when it comes to design choices. While its traditional stronghold has been in military and aerospace applications, VME is rugged enough for most industrial applications.
With a rich set of I/Os including serial interfaces and fieldbuses, VME has a great deal of communication power ideal for industrial applications. In addition, VME supports PMCs for modular I/O as well, offering system designers rich alternatives when it comes to communication. The wide temperature range also makes VME a good fit for remote applications.