CompactPCI® Serial, PICMG CPCI-S.0, is a new standard for modular 19in systems based on fast serial connections, which excels through a multitude of application possibilities, while remaining simple and inexpensive.

Off-the-shelf system configurations

CompactPCI Serial is not only robust but also extremely versatile. Requiring no switches or bridges, the architecture is simple, the configuration of hardware and software systems straightforward, which makes it cost-effective.

Based on COTS products – boards, backplanes and racks – MEN Mikro Elektronik already configures complete ready-made systems for a wide range of applications – see some examples:

RAID systems are used for storing large amounts of data, e.g., in security applications. CompactPCI® Serial defines eight SATA channels on the backplane. This way, the system slot CPU can control up to eight SATA hard disks, if the chipset provides the interfaces. These SATA media are placed on hard disk shuttles on peripheral boards and can be exchanged via hot-plug.

In a network attached storage (NAS) system the data of a computer network has to be stored collision-free. In order to do this, the system slot and the peripheral slot CPUs are connected via Ethernet, a switch module in the mezzanine slot of the system slot CPU communicating with the peripheral slot CPUs in a star architecture. The RAID controller (in the chipset) of the system slot CPU suffices for the central control of the SATA hard disk shuttles. The ratio between the CPU boards and the hard disks is arbitrary, because the pin assignment of all backplane slots is identical.

Another possibility for a multi-CPU system with an Ethernet star is to use a switch as a hub for the whole system instead of a CPU board in the system slot. In a multi-CPU system with an Ethernet ring, identical processor boards with switches are used in all backplane slots. The advantage of this structure is its availability – even if there is a board failure, the rest of the system continues to operate stably.

More complex computer clusters rather use a full-mesh configuration. Here, up to nine CPU boards are interconnected via Ethernet, making them fit for symmetrical multi-processing. These systems are highly scalable and available. Such a system with nine slots can also be a sub-cluster for a bigger system that – with the appropriate multicore architecture – can contain nearly 300 processor cores.

A full-mesh architecture is also the first choice for inherently safe systems. Three identical redundant CPU boards and a redundant switch pair are required for a 2oo3 system (“2 out of 3”). Due to the redundancy, errors are detected by constantly comparing the results. If you double the configuration described above, you get an available system that functions stably even after an error has been detected.

In image processing systems, which are often used for quality control, any given number of CPU boards can be combined in a computer network. These share the tasks of receiving, evaluating and processing the data of the connected camera.

For graphics output systems the performance of the graphics included in the chipset might not be enough under certain circumstances. For this eventuality, two of the peripheral slots are connected to the system slot via two PCI Express® x8 links. These are equipped with high-performance graphics cards, which can e.g. control up to four high-resolution monitors per display port. A CompactPCI Serial system can accommodate up to eight graphics cards, making it possible to control 32 displays with the corresponding software.

Wireless communication with the outside world is a must in many applications these days. Transmission formats such as WLAN, UMTS, HDSPA and LTE as well as GSM are available on PCI Express Mini Cards with USB or PCI Express connection. As both PCI Express and USB are routed to every peripheral slot in a CompactPCI Serial system, a nine-slot backplane can accommodate up to eight carrier boards with two HF modules.

Compact format, robust connectors, effective cooling (convection or conduction), hot-plug etc. make CompactPCI Serial systems extremely robust and thus suitable for extreme environments in a multitude of markets.