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Tech Focus:

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The Journal of Military Electronics & Computing



PLUS: UAV Ground Control Systems Embrace Advanced Display Technologies

— Data Acq and Sensor Systems Volume 13 Number 8 August 2011

An RTC Group Publication

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The Journal of Military Electronics & Computing


COTS (kots), n. 1. Commercial off-the-shelf. Terminology popularized in 1994 within U.S. DoD by SECDEF Wm. Perry’s “Perry Memo” that changed military industry purchasing and design guidelines, making Mil-Specs acceptable only by waiver. COTS is generally defined for technology, goods and services as: a) using commercial business practices and specifications, b) not developed under government funding, c) offered for sale to the general market, d) still must meet the program ORD. 2. Commercial business practices include the accepted practice of customerpaid minor modification to standard COTS products to meet the customer’s unique requirements. —Ant. When applied to the procurement of electronics for the U.S. Military, COTS is a procurement philosophy and does not imply commercial, office environment or any other durability grade. E.g., rad-hard components designed and offered for sale to the general market are COTS if they were developed by the company and not under government funding.

Tech Upgrade Programs Tap the Benefits of VME, VPX and cPCI

CONTENTS August 2011

Volume 13

Number 8

SPECIAL FEATURE VME, VPX and cPCI in Tech Upgrade Programs

10 Tech Upgrade Programs Tap the Benefits of VME, VPX and cPCI Jeff Child

18 Tech Refresh Strategies Bolster New Battlefield Compute Workloads David Pursley, Kontron

26 Modular Upgrades Continue to Extend VME-Based Systems Andy Reddig, Tek Microsystems

6 Publisher’s Notebook Defense Policy: The SecDef’s Mission Plan? 8

The Inside Track


COTS Products

70 Editorial Recognition Technology Takes a Bow

Coming in September See Page 68

TECH RECON Display and Computing Trends for UAV Ground Control

32 UAV Ground Control Systems Leverage Improved Display Jeff Child

40 Enhancement Options for Military Display Applications Richard Paynton and Jeff Blake, Dontech

SYSTEM DEVELOPMENT Military Data Acquisition and Sensors

48 Optical Sensing Changes Rules for Military Structural Measurements Nathan Yang, National Instruments

TECHNOLOGY FOCUS High-Density Storage Subsystems

54 Military Data Storage Systems Enter the Terabyte Era Jeff Child



High-Density Storage Subsystems Roundup

Digital subscriptions available:

On The Cover: Both VME and VPX have been a part of the Continuous Electronics Enhancement Program (CEEP), the System Enhancement Program (SEP V2) and the more recent Abrams Evolutionary Design (AED) program for the Abrams tank. A recent upgrade includes VPX SBCs, a VPX XMC carrier, a VPX Ethernet switch and a VPX SATA solid-state drive. Shown here, a U.S. Marine Corps M1A1 Abrams tank prepares to depart a combat outpost in Afghanistan. (Marine Corps photo by Master Sgt. Christopher Matt)

Ruggedized 3U Fibre RP R RPC PC12 Channel PC RAID System Phoenix International designs and builds rugged COTS Data Storage Systems that plug and play in any application -- from Multi-Terabyte Fibre Channel RAID and Storage Area Network configurations to plug-in Solid State Disk Drive VME Storage Modules.

The Journal of Military Electronics & Computing

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HOME OFFICE The RTC Group, 905 Calle Amanecer, Suite 250, San Clemente, CA 92673 Phone: (949) 226-2000 Fax: (949) 226-2050, Editorial office Jeff Child, Editor-in-Chief 20A Northwest Blvd., PMB#137, Nashua, NH 03063 Phone: (603) 429-8301 Fax: (603) 424-8122 Published by THE RTC GROUP Copyright 2011, The RTC Group. Printed in the United States. All rights reserved. All related graphics are trademarks of The RTC Group. All other brand and product names are the property of their holders.

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Notebook Defense Policy: The SecDef’s Mission Plan?


hen you read this there will have been an outcome to the August 2nd federal spending limit issue; more than likely a band-aid solution rather than anything long term or meaningful. For months this issue has been all consuming for the White House, which it should be. Until Leon Panetta’s assumption of the role of SecDef, Robert Gates carried out a defense policy that was a carryover from the previous administration and tweaked by the current President. Setting a defense policy is one of the more difficult things a President has to do. It’s much more difficult than setting policies on things like energy and the environment where if things don’t go exactly as planned most people won’t notice. A good defense policy is out there and in everyone’s sights every time something happens. As the President stated, “I have no higher priority than the safety and security of the American people.” Putting Secretary Panetta in a position to succeed in his new position, it is essential that he has proper marching orders like any new executive put in charge of an organization. The fact that for the last two months the administration and Congress have been all consumed by a debt ceiling deadline is no reason for not having a clear, publicly stated defense policy. Secretary Gates gave everyone lots of notice that he was retiring, and no matter who would finally be selected to fill his role, that person would need to have clear targets and goals in order to execute effectively. Secretary Panetta will have to be the driving force to execute the President’s proposed $400 billion cut in defense spending over the next few decades. Panetta will need to know what America’s priorities are for its safety and security so he can restructure the military to meet the country’s safety and security goals as well as its economic goals. By being given a decisive defense policy to work with, the SecDef would be able to use it as leverage when dealing with Congress, other government agencies, even other countries. A stated defense policy is not only essential for the military but also for the industries that support and supply the military establishment. If Star Wars is not part of the defense policy then contractors will not try to develop or sell Star Wars products to the military. If “boots on the ground” are less a part of the policy, then logistics suppliers will cut back and technology suppliers will ramp up. Decision statements in the policy like upgrades versus new programs, are statements of the type that our [ 6 ] COTS Journal August 2011

industry and prime contractors will react to. Right now everyone in the supplier side is second guessing and trying to defend established corporate policies and programs that were developed under the last administration. That’s something you don’t want to do in the best of economic times, let alone now. Except for his service in the military, Panetta does not have any DoD experience or reputation to rely on when dealing with the Pentagon establishment. Executing a significant change in the military’s mission and organization, and continuing efficiency changes Gates initiated will not be easy. Reducing the size of both in-service and civilian support personnel will not be viewed well by politicians. But that reduction is essential when the total support personnel is compared to actual number of warfighters. Meanwhile we need to review military retirement and benefits packages. Don’t get me wrong. No expense should be spared for any wounded personnel, or any decrease in benefits while personnel are deployed. Part of the defense policy should state how we obtain and pay for members in the active and reserve services and whether we should consider reinstating the draft. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has his work cut out for him: base closures, cutting useless internal administrative programs, getting the old guard brass to reinvent themselves, getting the military industrial machine to accept change, killing development programs that don’t fit the future, cyber attacks, personnel reform, fighting new conflicts like Libya…the list is endless. All eyes will be on the SecDef waiting for his first major decision and how he moves forward in cutting the fat and useless or unnecessary “stuff” out of the budget. No matter what decisions he makes there will be a group that will vehemently oppose them. Let’s see if he makes the ones that meet the goal where the highest priority is indeed the “safety and security of the American people”—followed by the people’s needs to spend less and get more.

Pete Yeatman, Publisher COTS Journal

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Inside Track General Dynamics Starts Production of JTRS HMS Radios for U.S. Army General Dynamics C4 Systems has received an order from the DoD for the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) Handheld, Manpack, Small Form Fit (HMS) Rifleman radio (AN/PRC-154) and Manpack (AN/PRC155) radio. Following a recent Milestone C decision, the Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) order, which has an initial value of approximately $56.4 million, calls for the production of 6,250 Rifleman and 100 Manpack radios and includes expenses for non-recurring startup costs, accessories, training, related equipment and supplies. The JTRS HMS networking radios are the first ground-domain radios that will be fielded by the U.S. military that meet the full suite of JTRS requirements. Department of Defense documents indicate that the Army plans to purchase more than 190,000 Rifleman and approximately 50,000 Manpack radios. JTRS HMS Rifleman radios (Figure 1) will enable soldiers on the battlefield to have secure, mobile voice, video and data communications capabilities that are similar to those available through commercial cellular networks. For the LRIP order, General Dynamics and Thales Communications will manufacture the Rifleman radios while General Dynamics and Rockwell Collins will build the Manpack radios. When the radios are approved for full rate production, the JTRS Acquisition Strategy states that at least two qualified vendors will compete for production. As designed, the JTRS HMS System Design and Development and Low Rate Initial Production contract efforts will yield two qualified vendors for each radio type.

Curtiss-Wright Acquires ACRA Control, Limited Curtiss-Wright Controls announced that it has acquired ACRA Control, Limited (ACRA) for approximately $61 million in cash. Headquartered in Dublin, Ireland, ACRA designs and manufactures data acquisition systems and networks, data recorders, and telemetry ground stations for the commercial aerospace and defense markets. ACRA will operate within the Integrated Sensing division of Curtiss-Wright Controls. Combining ACRA’s customizable modular technologies, engineering expertise and advanced product technologies with Curtiss-Wright Controls’ current recording and avionics solutions, will provide Aerospace [ 8 ] COTS Journal August 2011

and Defense customers with a fully integrated system, featuring enhanced data acquisition capabilities, airborne Ethernet data transmission and synchronization, and wireless download of data to ground stations. ACRA’s advanced Ethernet switch technology will enhance the value of Curtiss-Wright Controls’ systemlevel approach to C4ISR solutions. The company’s key technologies include modular data acquisition, solid state recorders, Ethernet switches / networking, wireless data transmission, telemetry ground stations, and ground station analysis software. Curtiss-Wright Controls Charlotte, NC. (704) 869-4600. [].

Figure 1

JTRS HMS Rifleman radios enable soldiers on the battlefield to have secure, mobile voice, video and data communications capabilities that are similar to those available through cellular networks. General Dynamics C4 Systems Scottsdale, AZ. (480) 441-3033. [].

U.S. Marine Corps Awards BAE Systems $56 Million Contract for MRAP Upgrades BAE Systems received multiple awards from the U.S. Marine Corps totaling more than $56 million for five separate delivery orders for work on the RG-33 Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract. The awards will provide upgrades for MRAP vehicles currently in the field. The RG-33 (Figure 2) Family of Vehicles (FOV) are highly survivable, mine-resistant vehicles capable of meeting multiple mission profiles with several mission-specific variants. BAE Systems received awards totaling

Figure 2

The RG-33 family of vehicles are highly survivable, mine-resistant vehicles capable of meeting multiple mission profiles with several mission-specific variants.

Inside Track

$17.7 million for the delivery of RG-33 SOCOM A1 and AUV vehicles and related equipment and services. Additional funding in the amount of $5.8 million was awarded for periodic maintenance and updates to the RG-33 FOV technical data package. A total of $14.2 million was awarded to provide instructor and field service personnel in support of vehicle operation and maintenance training and to support and maintain the fielded RG-33 vehicle fleet. It will also support the field upgrade of the RG-33 SOCOM A0 vehicle to the A1 configuration with independent suspension and other vehicle improvements. BAE Systems McLean, VA. (703) 847-5820. [].

U.S. Army Awards Power Supply Contract to Analytic Systems Analytic Systems announced that it has again been awarded the subcontract to manufacture the power supply (Figure 3) for the U.S. Army’s Modern Burner Unit (MBU) program through the Energy Solutions Division of Teleflex Canada. After an exhaustive evaluation of power supply manufacturers on both sides of the border, Teleflex selected Analytic Systems to manufacture the power supplies for the program. Two years of development and testing culminated in Analytic Systems initially being certified as the manufacturer and supplier of the MBU power supply in late 2002. Since then over 10,000 units are now in theatre and have enjoyed a less than 0.01% return rate. The MBU is the replacement for the M2 gasoline burner currently used in all field feeding

Figure 3

Since 2002 over 10,000 of these MBU power supplies are deployed in theatre with a return rate of less than 0.01%. systems. The MBU employs an automatic, closed circuit fueling system, which avoids spill hazards and eliminates the need to remove the burner for refueling, as with the pressurized fuel system of the M2. It has an electronic ignition, which saves time by eliminating the pre-heat period required with the M2 and reduces the hazards associated with lighting and carrying lit burners into the kitchen. It reduces the logistical burden and safety hazards of the M2 by burning the less volatile JP-8 fuel instead of gasoline. Analytic Systems Delta, British Columbia Canada (604) 946-9981. [].

Army AH-64D Is First Platform to Receive JTRS Net-Enabled Comms Capability Lockheed Martin has delivered the first secure Joint Tactical Radio to the U.S. Army’s AH-64D (Figure 4) Apache Avionics Integration Lab. The Airborne, Maritime/Fixed Station Joint Tactical Radio System (AMF JTRS) delivery included the Engineering Development Model (EDM) of the Joint Tactical Radio-Small Airborne two channel radio running the Link-

Figure 4

The AMF JTRS allows users to seamlessly share secure (NSA Type 1) voice, data and video communications, in real time. 16 waveform and 200w Link-16 power amplifier. AMF JTRS is designed to allow Airmen, Sailors, Marines and Soldiers to seamlessly share secure (NSA Type 1) voice, data and video communications, in real time. Once completely fielded, AMF JTRS will link more than 100 platforms, providing connectivity to areas where no communications infrastructure previously existed. Airmen and Sailors will be able to synchronize with the Soldiers in the foxhole, providing near instantaneous awareness of the combat environment. The delivery of this radio allows the Apache integration team to begin integrating the Joint Tactical Radio command and control functions onto their platform architecture. The Apache Avionics Integration Lab will use the EDM unit for software integration and testing for incorporation into the AH64D Block III upgrade. Lockheed Martin Bethesda, MD. (301) 897-6000. [].

Event Calendar August 23

Real-Time & Embedded Computing Conference Irvine, CA August 25

Real-Time & Embedded Computing Conference San Diego, CA September 13

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Real-Time & Embedded Computing Conference Montreal, QC October 11

Real-Time & Embedded Computing Conference Portland, OR October 13

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August 2011 COTS Journal [ 9 ]

Special Feature

VME, VPX and cPCI in Tech Upgrade Programs

Tech Upgrade Programs Tap the Benefits of VME, VPX and cPCI Fitting the needs of many long design cycle military programs, VME and CompactPCI shine as upgradable slot-card technologies. New choices like VPX and CompactPCI Serial are meanwhile finding ways to provide smooth pathways to higher bandwidths. Jeff Child, Editor-in-Chief

[ 10 ] COTS Journal August 2011

Special Feature


mong the reasons for VME’s soaring success fabric-based VITA-standard boards enter the mix. in military systems is its unique ability to Often filling the role as the “cash cow” of the miliremain backward compatible and fatary embedded computer business, slot-card technology cilitate technology refresh in miliupgrade programs are continuing to do brisk business. Many tary programs. As new board of these upgrade programs go unannounced—at least in terms with the latest and greatest procesof whose products and what technology is used—and they’re often sor, memory and I/O can easily be not the sexy advanced cutting-edge programs that receive a lot of press. dropped in to a slot that could But that ability to insert new processing, memory and I/O functionality be decades old. CompactPCI on legacy platforms is exactly why the military has favored modular slot-card has followed in those form factors like VME in the first place. same footsteps. But upgrades become A Legacy of Tech Refresh Success trickier as new Tech refresh programs are the heart of much of the embedded computer business. Among the highest profile of these include the F-18 Advanced Multi-Purpose Display program; Bradley Vehicle Electronics Upgrade; B-52 mission computer upgrade; Aegis Guided Missile Destroyer Sonar Upgrade; B-2 Bomber Radar Upgrade; Boeing B-1B Bomber Avionics Upgrade; and the C-130 cockpit upgrade. Most all of these upgrade programs involve standards-based embedded computer solutions such as VME. The M1A1D version of the Abrams tank famously allowed future electronic growth by providing unpopulated VME card slots.

August 2011 COTS Journal [ 11 ]

Special Feature

Figure 1

The Abrams M1A2 SEPv2 tank comes with the Commander’s Independent Thermal Viewer, which allows the commander and gunner to track multiple targets. Here, M1A2 Abrams tanks ride the new rail spur on the Ordnance Campus at Fort Lee. Exemplifying VME’s ability to serve long deployment cycles is General Dynamics’ Continuous Electronic Enhancement Program (CEEP), part of the overall Abrams Tank Systems Enhancement Package (SEP) upgrade (Figure 1). CEEP integrates new technologies that will reduce future obsolescence issues and take advantage of improved processing and display capabilities. The SEP upgrade includes improved processors, color and high-resolution flat panel displays, increased memory capacity, and an open operating system that will allow for future technology growth. The processor side of that involved GE Intelligent Systems rugged PowerPC processor, graphics and communications products. This processor board is designed to accept two onboard mezzanine modules all in a single VME slot and will allow for improved capabilities in both crew operations and vehicle diagnostics.

New Processing Technology The days are now gone when VME was the only option for new military system designs. That said, its ability to accommodate new technologies opens the [ 12 ] COTS Journal August 2011

door for a healthy stream of technology refresh business. A host of deployed programs and long design cycle programs continue to demand VME SBC upgrades that drop into an existing slot with the latest and greatest processing technology. Feeding that need, vendors continue to roll out new VME boards that sport the latest and greatest processors and memory technology. A recent example along those lines was Themis Computer’s new XV2 (Figure 2) VME SBC released early this summer. The XV2 is based on the low-power Quad-Core Xeon L5518 processor clocked at 1.73 GHz, and Intel’s 3420 chipset used in high-performance Xeon servers. The L5518 memory controller supports ECC to maintain the highest system integrity, and provides the bandwidth necessary to support high-performance I/O. XV2 memory is expandable to 24 Gbytes of DDR III memory. The XV2 base configuration includes 3 Gbytes of DDR III memory, four Gigabit Ethernet ports, five SATA II ports, four SAS ports, eight USB 2.0 ports and two XMC/PMC slots. Since its introduction in 1981, the VMEbus standard has certainly satisfied

Figure 2

An example of new computing technology on VME is this XV2 VME SBC. The board is based on the low power, QuadCore Xeon L5518 processor clocked at 1.73 GHz, and Intel’s 3420 chipset used in high-performance Xeon servers. Memory is expandable to 24 Gbytes of DDR III DRAM.

the requirements of many defense systems. Successive generations of new processors provided more and more compute cycles, while VME bandwidth evolved in a similar fashion, from 40 Mbytes/s on the original VMEbus to 80 Mbytes/s, then 160 Mbytes/s, and finally 320 Mbytes/s on 2eSST. However, after a run of more than two decades, there weren’t any tricks left to squeeze more bandwidth out of the VME connector. The VXS standard (VITA 41), begun in March 2002 and ANSI-approved in May 2006, has extended the life of

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Special Feature

VMEbus, offering both increased bandwidth and a high level of board-level backward compatibility. An alternative is the VPX standard (VITA 46), with a different set of characteristics for system bandwidth and backward compatibility.

VXS Extends Bandwidth of VME Systems The VXS standard was developed to provide greater system bandwidth while maintaining enough backward compatibility to preserve the value of investments in VME board-level technology. VXS achieves this through an updated connector, and the addition of a switch fabric architecture. The VXS base specification describes two types of cards—payload and switch—and a corresponding type of backplane slot for each. For payload cards, supporting processing, memory and I/O, VXS retains the P1 and P2 5-row DIN connectors of the VME64x connector, providing compatibility with the P1/ P2 resident VME parallel bus and the P2 resident user-defined pins, which are often used to distribute system-specific I/O data streams. With a VXS backplane, system engineers can also carry forward VME64 cards in payload slots, without the need for a hybrid backplane. The more recent technology hurdle is the challenge of using older installed legacy VME subsystems while still embrac-

Figure 3

An SBC based on the newly ratified PICMG CPCI-S.0 CompactPCI Serial specification is the G20. It sports the 64-bit Intel Core i7 processor with a base processing speed of 2.53 GHz. The board supports a CompactPCI Serial mezzanine module that leads to the Ethernet interfaces specified in the standard to the backplane where they are implemented on CompactPCI Serial connector. ing the benefits of new architectures like OpenVPX. Billions have been invested in legacy VME systems, and it will be a long while before pure OpenVPX-only systems dominate. OpenVPX is expected to have a strong presence in military programs that have brand new embedded comput-

ing implementations—some of which already use VPX. But side-by-side will be a substantial number of hybrid systems— systems using both VME and VPX boards and subsystems. If a VPX system, for example, needs a piece of technology like an RF tuner, the system designer could implement a hybrid system that accommodates a VXS or VME version of the tuner. Hooks have been designed into the OpenVPX spec to enable such systems. Using a specialized bridge chip, it’s straightforward for board makers to bridge between OpenVPX and VME.

CompactPCI Not the New Kid Anymore With nearly two decades now under its belt, CompactPCI can claim to offer all the aspects that pass the test for military decision makers. And though cPCI isn’t ever expected to eclipse the legacy of VME in the military market, its niche remains solid. An expanding set of conductioncooled CompactPCI boards has emerged, some even from outside the usual crowd of conduction-cooled board makers. Among these are a wide collection of cPCI products that are available from a variety of vendors in every category including single board computers, I/O boards, slotcard power supplies, storage subsystems, mezzanine carriers, DSP engines and many others. The “Conduction-Cooled

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[ 14cots1108_scv3.indd ] COTS Journal 1 August 2011

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Special Feature cPCI Boards Roundup” on the following pages showcases some examples of the current crop of conduction-cooled cPCI single board computer products. In many cases, this group of cPCI boards includes air-cooled versions that offer a companion conduction-cooled version that’s electronically an identical design. Over the years, the PCI Industrial Manufacturers Group (PICMG) developed performance upgrade paths for cPCI, such as PICMG 2.16 and CompactPCI Express.

A year ago PICMG adopted the PICMG 2.30 specification, called CompactPCI PlusIO. This new specification adds PCI Express, Ethernet, SATA, SAS and USB extensions to the CompactPCI family of specifications, while preserving PCI bus connectivity. The next phase of that effort is a second spec called CompactPCI Serial (PICMG CPCI-S.0) that defines systems built completely on CompactPCI Plus. In March PICMG announced the completion and adoption of the CompactPCI Se-

rial (CPCI-S.0) specification. The specification added greater support for serial point to point fabrics like PCI Express, SATA, Ethernet and USB in the classic CompactPCI form factor. An example SBC based on the newly ratified PICMG CPCI-S.0 CompactPCI Serial specification is the G20 (Figure 3) from MEN Micro. It uses the 64-bit Intel Core i7 processor with a base processing speed of 2.53 GHz that supports Intel Turbo Boost Hyperthreading technology to provide a maximum speed of 3.20 GHz. In addition to the standard, fast 8 Gbyte DDR3 ECC SDRAM soldered against shock and vibration, a CompactFlash and a microSD card slot connected to the G20 via one USB interface can extend memory capacities. MEN Micro also offers the GM1 CompactPCI Serial mezzanine module that leads four of the possible eight Ethernet interfaces specified in the standard to the backplane where they are implemented on CompactPCI Serial connector P6 assembled on the GM1. The attraction to CompactPCI— particularly in its 3U size—is striking in military applications where the mix of size constraints and demand for sturdy slot-card style ruggedness is called for. In many case, 3U CompactPCI is delivered to customers in complete integrated systems—a trend that melds nicely with the emergence of “stand-alone rugged box systems” as a product category among military embedded board vendors. Also fueling that trend is consolidation in this industry to the point where the larger corporations can provide the entire computer, I/O and enclosure needs themselves. GE Intelligent Platforms Charlottesville, VA. (800) 368-2738. []. MEN Micro Ambler, PA. (215) 542-9575. []. Themis Computer Fremont, CA. (510) 252-0870. [].

[ 16Untitled-4 ] COTS1Journal August 2011

8/10/11 4:54:44 PM

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They’re already sticking their necks out for us. No point in them sticking their heads out too.


Special Feature

VME, VPX and cPCI in Tech Upgrade Programs

Tech Refresh Strategies Bolster New Battlefield Compute Workloads Technology upgrades are leveraging VPX, CompactPCI and x86-based VME to minimize redesign, increase performance and reduce footprint. David Pursley, Product Line Manager Kontron


he ability to handle increasing volumes of data is dramatically impacting the modern battlefield, often outpacing the performance of legacy systems. The value of sharing this data—within and between systems—has become as central to warfare as aircraft and weapons. As a result, designers are consistently challenged to build and maintain systems that manage greater bandwidth, increased processing power and advanced security fueling network-centric military communications. Essential and long-established legacy designs must be evaluated from this perspective; therefore, tech refresh programs must address DoD mandates for achieving the most effective tactical capabilities in the face of budget challenges. At the same time, it has become a necessity that designers leverage the latest COTS-based advancements to improve legacy systems based on any number of criteria. Mitigating obsolescence of older systems may be a primary tech refresh strategy, but addressing requirement changes or integrating new technology benefits may be an even greater design challenge. The reactive approach to tech refresh considers only short-term issues such as obsolescence and procurement costs, whereas ideal system updates leverage COTS solutions to [ 18 ] COTS Journal August 2011

Figure 1

WIN-T is replacing Mobile Subscriber Equipment (MSE) as the on-the-move, high-speed backbone comms network for the Army. Shown here, a staff sergeant prepares to deploy to Iraq with a WIN-T Increment One KU trailer. reduce Size, Weight and Power (SWaP) while improving system performance, scalability, reliability and/or ruggedness. For designers and military OEMs, understanding the benefits and drawbacks of key military computing platforms is essential in guiding tech refresh choices down the right path and for the right reasons.

Strategic Tech Refresh In today’s integrated battlefield, refresh designs typically need to be put in

place quickly with minimum risk to the overall system or application. For example, programs such as Brigade Combat Team (BCT) Modernization, JTRS (Joint Tactical Radio System) and WIN-T (Warfighter Information Network – Tactical) (Figure 1), require ongoing improvements to maintain significantly greater bandwidth than earlier battlefield technologies. The military’s diverse applications are united by their demand for highly reliable networkcentric connectivity, and these systems range from weapons control to handheld GPS-based radios to those that handle the real-time sharing of surveillance data. Furthermore, the military has deployed systems with more and more sensors that deliver monumental amounts of important data that enable increased surveillance capabilities with a greater reliance on secure video imaging as an integral element to situational awareness. New applications such as mapping, secure chat and augmented reality are evolving from this available data, and further driving the need for effective networking and increased bandwidth. Ultimately, the trend of making these applications mobile for the individual soldier is proving highly viable and likely to continue at a greater pace. Performance and reliability are essential for newly deployed systems as well as older systems that must be migrated






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Special Feature and consistently enhanced to meet increasing levels of sophisticated data sharing, ruggedness and performance. For example, a naval destroyer could have a tech refresh between its completion and even its initial deployment. Once built, its physical systems such as sensors and radar towers would remain in place; however its computing platforms, or anything that falls within the definition of shipboard IT, would be refreshed prior to a lengthy period of service at sea. This ensures ongoing availability, performance and supportability throughout the system’s lifecycle. The question of what to achieve in the refresh is firmly application-dependent. Higher speed signaling, increased bandwidth, more sophisticated interfaces and I/O are all examples of added capabilities or features that may be the ideal focus of system updates. Every design must address the military’s requirements for evolving mission support, varying enemy threats and network-centric battle environments. Of current importance is the consideration for performance levels of deployed VME systems and establishing

a critical path forward toward increased bandwidth, performance and flexibility.

Optimum Platforms for Evolving Needs Upgrading VME-based systems often migrates a design toward VPX. Gaining momentum are new high-performance embedded computing (HPEC) (Figure 2) platforms that are VPX-based super computer-like systems. Kontron has just developed a new HPEC platform that accommodates up to 18 6U VPX processor nodes, powered by Dual Intel Core i7 processor computing nodes, and employing 36 tightly coupled processors. This type of system delivers massive processing power for compute-intensive DSP-based systems, and allows high-speed socketbased communication between blades by using multiple switched fabric interconnects within the backplane. The HPEC system employs the Kontron VX6060, a 6U dual processor node with 16 Gbyte soldered ECC RAM, which is already deployed as a cluster in several significant military technology programs including an airborne surveil-

lance system. Such a system is optimal for this type of application based on its ability to successfully integrate multiple high-performance COTS products to meet immense throughput and processing requirements in a space-constrained airborne system handling more than a teraflop of data. The VPX architecture represents a dramatic shift from VME communication protocols, with signals moving across Serial RapidIO, Gigabit Ethernet or PCI Express instead of the PCI or VMEbus. In turn, Kontron VXFabric, a simplified API that helps accelerate the design process, is an essential element in simplifying this type of migration. VXFabric addresses complexity by providing a thin layer of software that speeds application development through an API for IP-based data transport over PCI Express. VXFabric allows 6U OpenVPX systems to benefit from a performance boost and simplified data flow management in HPEC applications, including faster development and deployment of high memory architectures incorporating Intel Core i7 technology.

Refresh Goals Drive Choice of Platform Designers approach refresh plans from several perspectives, each of which impacts their choice of platform. Each approach may not be exclusively appropriate for a certain application or deployed environment, and designers will find it necessary to make trade-offs between performance, development time, cost and legacy compatibility. Minimizing design risk is a key issue and may drive the simplest type of upgrade, focused solely on increasing processing performance and strategically leaving all other system elements untouched. This may be ideal for a complex system that has already been deployed and is performing to expectations; the refresh may simply position the application for greater duty in terms of bandwidth and more effective data sharing in real time. Software porting is generally required even with only a new processor, however, this approach keeps software design issues to a minimum. A deeper level of upgrade might be considered for a refresh, for example, if there is a need to increase performance based on new software capabilities established since the system’s initial design or deployment. Additional features may now be required, such as higher CPU performance or increased memory. In this scenario, physical requirements may be flexible enough to allow a form factor change as warranted. For instance, an existing VME system that needs to incorporate higher bandwidth technologies may need to evolve to VPX, but that requires changes to be made in the backplane and all system cards, dramatically different than a simple CPU card upgrade and often a refresh that requires greater design expertise. Often refresh designs are used to achieve smaller footprints. In these scenarios, SWaP must be decreased in a particular integrated system in order to decrease SWaP levels within the overall system. This refresh approach is common when OEMs are working to introduce other systems elsewhere in the platform. Further, the SWaP reduction may improve safety of troops simply by enabling a more streamlined deployment. Consider a military convoy in a rear deployed position and tasked with setting up network-enabled command centers in remote locations. Extensive computer equipment, and supporting hardware such as generators and air conditioners, may be transported relatively easily and physical space is comparatively available based on numerous vehicles. Even so, if system size can be reduced, the number of vehicles could in turn be reduced—and shorter, faster convoys could decrease danger for the troops and still get the job done very effectively. This particular approach to tech refresh is essential in aerospace implementations. SWaP continues to be a primary issue, with published data evaluating costs and determining operational savings based on cost per ounce. Shipboard and ground vehicle applications have similar design issues, with designers working to pack more functionality into a finite space that can only be extended by reducing the footprint of existing systems. [ 20 ] COTS Journal August 2011

Special Feature The form factor is reduced, meeting the goal of SWaP reduction. At the same time, CompactPCI provides a proven computing paradigm that more closely resembles VME, at least in terms of how application software recognizes the hardware.

Using Refresh Points to Migrate to x86 Not all tech refreshes require, or even allow for, a change to the underlying computing architecture. For ex-

ample, the cost of an architectural redesign may be too high, or specialized I/O boards may be difficult to replace. In these cases, improvements in power (the lower, the better), performance (the higher, the better) and cost may be had by migrating to a new processor architecture. Designs can stay within VME and simply transition from PowerPC architectures to x86 by means of current products supporting Intel’s latest processors.

Figure 2

Helping system developers migrate VME-based systems toward VPX are products like this HPEC platform. Its VXFabric approach allows high-speed socket-based communication between blades by using multiple switched fabric interconnects within the backplane. Potential applications include radar, sonar, SIGINT and video processing for various aircraft or UAV programs.

Independent Memory Access Each of the independently implemented dual-core Intel Core i7 processing nodes of the Kontron VX6060 have full access to 8 Gbyte ECC RAM. This enhanced memory capacity allows extensive application data to be hosted in low latency RAM without reloading data from high latency mass storage devices. Data buffering and inter-board dataflow also benefit from these extended memory resources, simplifying resource management and improving overall application performance, which are key issues in tech refresh initiatives for radar, sonar, imaging systems, airborne fighters and UAVs. Additional design options should be considered based on the complexities of the application-specific demands. VPX replaces the bus with a network-based protocol, frequently requiring a significant retooling of application software. Based on this challenge, designers working with 6U VME refreshes will find the 3U CompactPCI as a good alternative. Untitled-4 1

2/16/11 9:51:50 AM ] August 2011 COTS Journal [ 21

Special Feature performance in existing designs based on the current line of either Intel or PowerPC VME SBCs without adjustments to the backplane. Demanding graphics applications, such as those found in command and control centers or sophisticated military surveillance applications, benefit from Open GL 2.1 support and accelerated DirectX 10 capabilities through better and faster visual display on up to two monitors.

Migrating Applications Figure 3

VME is the mainstay technology of the military’s tech fresh efforts. An example VME card using the latest and greatest compute technology is the VM6050, a 6U VME SBC with an Intel Core i7 processor. Users can upgrade compute performance without adjustments to the backplane. Designing systems around 6U VME boards allows the final system to span different CPU architectures, which helps reduce development times as well as improve time-to-market and

TCO of new applications. For example, the Kontron VM6050 (Figure 3), a 6U VME SBC, is fully compatible with all Kontron 6U VME products. OEMs can leverage x86 computing and graphics

When migrating any application, the existing system, including its integrated products, boards and end-use feature sets must be taken into consideration. Technologies implemented in the existing system will directly impact recommendations made by any new supplier. For example, if a design uses single instruction-multiple data (SIMD) processing, such as within PowerPC Architecture’s AltiVec extensions, designers need to maintain the same result with the Intel instruction set’s SSE (Streaming SIMD Extensions). I/O details are essen-

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Special Feature tial as well, since their options represent an incredibly diverse range of possibilities that will vary based on the communication and networking requirements of the system. Form factor requirements will determine the necessity of migrating to a smaller footprint or lower power threshold and still attempt to maintain the performance level. Re-certification of a system may still be necessary; but the ability to swap outdated boards for newer products cuts

back on development time and engineering resources. For example, a tech refresh for a UAV program required an upgrade to high definition imagery. To reduce the cost of replacing the numerous systems already fielded, the decision was made to stay with VME and simply upgrade the processor board. The use of the UHS P0 connector was all that was necessary to allow the high speed video to connect to the higher performance VME processor board over the existing backplane.

Tech Refresh Options Moving Forward Based on costs and DoD budget requirements, many large, legacy military programs consider remaining in VME the most viable option—replacing legacy VME chassis, I/O cards and software with products that now offer improved availability, performance and features based on x86 architectures. In turn, many embedded computing suppliers are competing with this mandate, developing high-performance VPX and CompactPCI systems in parallel that deliver a range of compatible tech refresh options designed for pure performance and reliability. Most importantly, system designers have a growing slate of competitive design options that allow them to be proactive in refreshing critical applications, focusing on minimizing redesign, improving performance or reducing footprint. Defense budgets are tight and the pressure is on—system deployments are being extended years longer than originally anticipated even while performance expectations are higher than ever. Designers of today’s systems are challenged with getting creative—understanding evolving standardized platforms and finding the best embedded computing options to keep military applications and systems performing to battlefield expectations. Even more critical, applications such as next-generation radars, targeting and surveillance systems for UAVs, and broadband electronic warfare monitoring and jamming systems are requiring greater focus on immense data processing and sharing. Operations such as enhanced resolution imagery, higher I/O rates, faster storage and higher performance communications mean massive increases in data flow and real-time data sharing among the armed forces. These enhanced communications, radar and imaging systems call for designers to develop tech refresh strategies that continue to push embedded computing technology solutions to ever higher, more creative and sophisticated levels. Kontron America Poway, CA. (858) 677-0877. [].

[ 24Untitled-9 ] COTS1Journal August 2011

5/6/11 10:05:28 AM

Special Feature

VME, VPX and cPCI in Tech Upgrade Programs

Modular Upgrades Continue to Extend VME-Based Systems The concept of Modular Open Systems Approach (MOSA) ranks as a major success story for military embedded computing. It enables complex systems to easily upgrade processing technology without recreating a whole system architecture. Andy Reddig, President and CTO Tek Microsystems


odular Open Systems Approach (MOSA) is one acronym used today to describe a systems approach to creating modular, upgradable systems. MOSA is increasingly important as the rate of change of technology continues to accelerate, driving the need to upgrade systems with new capabilities and higher performance several times during a deployed program’s lifecycle. One important piece of the MOSA puzzle is the use of standard form factors and buses such as the venerable VMEbus. By using standardized building blocks, MOSA-based systems can swap in higher performance modules that enhance performance without a complete systems redesign, allowing defense and intelligence systems to keep up with the latest technology through incremental, low risk upgrades. Although VME-based systems predate the MOSA initiative by 10 years or more, the principle of using modular building blocks based on open standards has always been a key part of good systems design. For many programs, the mission requirements have evolved to need better performance but can[ 26 ] COTS Journal August 2011

Figure 1

Digitizers with FPGA processing are a critical technology in many defense and intelligence systems including advanced radar systems. not support the high cost, schedule and risk impacts of a “forklift upgrade” of the entire system. Fortunately, the same technology elements that enable new architectures today can also be applied to enhance legacy systems. Embedded computing modules based on current

Analog-to-Digital Converter (ADC) and Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) technology can be used to upgrade legacy systems while maintaining compatibility with the existing architecture mechanically, electrically, and even at the software level.

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Special Feature

Upgrade Requirements

Legacy System Block Diagram VMEbus


Processing Slice 1





System I/O






Processing Slices 2,3,4

Additional card sets (RF, ADC/FPGA, CPU)

Figure 2

This example FPGA-based legacy digitizer system consists of an RF stage, an ADC / FPGA stage and a CPU stage.

Where FPGAs Reign Digitizers with FPGA processing are used in a wide range of defense and intelligence systems, including signals intelligence (including ELINT and COMINT), electronic warfare and radar (Figure 1) applications. For the purposes of discussion let’s assume that the legacy system consists of three processing stages: an RF stage, which converts antenna inputs to IF signals; an ADC / FPGA stage, which digitizes the IF signals and performs signal processing on the data stream to extract narrowband data; and a CPU stage, which performs general purpose processing of the resulting data streams. The system accepts four antenna inputs, each of which is processed by a “slice,” which consists of an RF module, ADC / FPGA module, and CPU module. The system uses VMEbus for control and status, and Front Panel Data Port (FPDP) for communication between each ADC / FPGA card and its associated CPU. The system also contains other CPU and I/O [ 28 ] COTS Journal August 2011

resources for platform interfaces and so forth, but we are primarily concerned with the signal acquisition and processing portion of the system. A block diagram of this example legacy system is shown in Figure 2. Within each slice, the RF module accepts an external input and generates two channels of I/Q data, each of which has IF bandwidth of 40 MHz centered at 30 MHz (i.e., signal information from 10 to 50 MHz). The ADC / FPGA module then samples the four analog signals using 14-bit 105 MSPS ADC converters, and the resulting digital data streams are each processed by Xilinx Virtex-4 SX55 FPGAs with 512 DSP slices per FPGA. The resulting channelized data is then combined into a single 160 Mbyte/s data stream and transferred through a FPDP interface to the adjacent CPU module. The CPU module is a standard Single Board Computer (SBC) with two PMC sites, one of which is used for the FPDP interface.

In our example, the deployed system has been used successfully for some time but the end user needs improvements to deal with an increasingly complex and congested electromagnetic environment. The upgraded system will need both improved probability of detection of signals as well as the ability to prosecute more signals concurrently. These mission requirements imply system enhancements in terms of better ADC resolution, improved signal integrity in the form of Signal to Noise Ratio (SNR) and spurious free dynamic range (SFDR), and more channelization processors within both the FPGA processing stages and the CPU processing stages. This implies higher performance FPGA and CPU devices as well as a 2x improvement in throughput (to 320 Mbyte/s) between the FPGA and CPU processing stages. To minimize cost, schedule and risk, the upgrade will not change the CPU modules that are not used for signal processing, the other I/O modules, the backplane, the enclosure, or the RF modules. This implies that both the ADC / FPGA modules and the signal processing CPU modules will need to be replaced with new modules that are mechanically and electrically compatible with the existing 6U form factor and VMEbus interconnect while providing an option for higher throughput card-to-card data flow at the front panel. In this example each legacy ADC / FPGA module is replaced with a QuiXilica-V6 ADC / FPGA VME module. A block diagram of the QuiXilica-V6 card is shown in Figure 3.

Analog to Digital Converter Significant improvements have been made in ADC technology since the original system was deployed, resulting in a number of options from multiple vendors with significant improvements in effective number of bits, SNR and SFDR over the legacy implementation. Because the RF front end is not being upgraded, the analog IF bandwidth, center frequency and clock rates have not changed, and therefore the ADC sample rate does not need to be increased. The optimum ADC

Special Feature

choice is a device that offers the best available performance at the required sample rate. The upgraded module uses the Analog Devices AD9265, which is a 16-bit 105 MSPS converter with improved ENOB, SNR and SFDR over the legacy 14bit device. In the legacy ADC / FPGA module, each analog input channel is processed by a Xilinx Virtex-4 SX55 FPGA, each of which contains 24,576 logic slices and 512 DSP slices. Unfortunately, it is difficult to directly compare Virtex-4 and Virtex-6 slice counts, because the functionality of both logic and DSP slices changes with each FPGA generation, and the effective use of the hardware is also dependent on the signal processing algorithm being implemented. Based on analysis of representative signal processing applications, we have found the ratio of V4 to V6 slices to be between 39 and 89% for logic slices and between 50 and 100% for DSP slices, prior to any allowance for the faster clock rates supported by V6 devices. After normalizing to V6 slices, each V4 SX55 therefore contains between 9,585 and 21,873 logic slices and between 256 and 512 DSP slices. The upgraded system has three Virtex-6 FPGAs across 4 analog channels, and each FPGA can be populated with either SX315 or SX475 devices. The resulting FPGA density per channel is shown in Table 1.

Front Panel Interconnect The legacy system uses Front Panel Data Port (FPDP) to provide a 160 Mbyte/s interconnect between the ADC / FPGA module and the associated CPU module. The FPDP interface is a built-in part of the ADC / FPGA module and is implemented using an off-the-shelf PMC I/O module on the CPU module. The FPDP interfaces are connected using a short ribbon cable on the front panel between the two modules. The upgraded system replaces the FPDP I/O module with a Serial FPDP module that uses fiber optic connections. Each fiber is capable of supporting up to 247 Mbytes/s for a total data transfer capability of just under 1 Gbyte/s. The upgraded ADC / FPGA module has a CXP

fiber optic module on the front panel that supports 12 separate fibers. This can be used to provide four fibers to the adjacent CPU module, retaining eight fibers for future expansion if needed. Serial FPDP also provides built-in support for a “copy” mode, which allows the FPGA-to-CPU data to be forwarded to an external system for recording or diagnostic purposes. Because Serial FPDP uses high-speed fiber instead of ribbon cables, the recording system can be located up to 20 meters away from the deployed system and the copy mode function can be implemented without affecting the FPGA-to-CPU data flow.

Legacy VME Interface The legacy system uses the VMEbus interface for control and status purposes, allowing the CPU resources to control and monitor all of the cards in the system over the VMEbus backplane. The upgraded system is required to continue using VMEbus for control and status functions and to minimize changes to the control software. The upgraded ADC / FPGA module supports a VMEbus A32:D32 slave interface, allowing the existing control infrastructure and software to be largely reused. The VMEbus implementation uses an FPGA-based VME interface core, which maps VMEbus data transfer cycles to separate address regions that are assigned to the three onboard Virtex-6 FPGAs. As the control processor performs VMEbus read and write cycles, the transaction is accepted by the interface core, transferred to the target FPGA through a high-speed serial link, and then the user firmware responds to the cycle. This architecture allows user firmware to emulate existing register maps in many applications, avoiding the need to modify legacy software.

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Gbit Ethernet as External Interface The legacy system uses Gigabit Ethernet as an external interface for control and status purposes. The upgraded system has additional Gigabit Ethernet ports available on the signal processing CPU modules and adds a Gigabit Ethernet switch to the chassis to enable a more


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August 2011 COTS Journal [ 29 ] Untitled-9 1

7/5/11 12:01:44 PM

Special Feature

Upgraded System Block Diagram DDR X2

ADC Analog Inputs (4)




Virtex-6 FPGA

ADC Virtex-6 FPGA DDR X2

ADC Analog Inputs (4)



Virtex-6 FPGA


GbE Switch

Gigabit Ethernet VMEbus Serial Link Gigabit Ethernet Link

Figure 3

In the system example each legacy ADC / FPGA module is replaced with one of these QuiXilica-V6 ADC / FPGA VME modules. It is mechanically and electrically compatible with the existing 6U form factor and VMEbus interconnect while providing an option for higher throughput card-to-card data flow at the front panel. FPGA Processing Density Configuration

V6 Logic Slices per Channel

V6 DSP Slices per Channel

Legacy V4 SX55

9,585 to 21,873

256 to 512

Upgraded SX315



Upgraded SX475



Table 1

By upgrading to new advanced FPGAs, the resulting boost in density per channel is dramatic.

network-enabled architecture for future technology insertions. The upgraded ADC / FPGA module supports Gigabit Ethernet connections to the front panel, the P2 backplane connector using a Rear Transition Module, and the P0 backplane connector if a VXS backplane is used. These network interfaces are all connected internally to an onboard Gigabit Ethernet switch, which provides network interfaces to the system controller and to each Virtex-6 FPGA device. This allows future expansion to a network-based control plane as an alternative to the VMEbus without additional hardware. [ 30 ] COTS Journal August 2011

The upgraded ADC / FPGA module has six banks of DDR3 memory available with total capacity of 5 Gbytes and total throughput of 32 Gbytes/s. One of the upgraded firmware functions uses the memory to implement a “snapshot� mode, which acquires a large block of raw analog input data and then transmits the data over the Gigabit Ethernet network to a support processor. This improves the built-in-test and diagnostic capabilities of the system without requiring additional CPU bandwidth or impacting normal operation. The legacy system is deployed in configurations that support between one and

four RF inputs, each with a processing slice of three modules (RF, ADC / FPGA and CPU). For some missions, the signal processing workload requires the additional capability of the upgraded FPGA and CPU modules, which results in the same three module architecture for each slice. For other missions, the signal processing workload is roughly the same as the legacy system, which allows one FPGA or CPU module to support two processing slices. With eight analog channels and 12 fibers per ADC / FPGA module, the upgraded module can be used for either one or two slices, and forward all of the required output data to either one or two CPUs with appropriate fiber optic cabling. This allows the user to mix and match ADC / FPGA and CPU modules as required for different application requirements while maintaining commonality across systems and optimizing size, weight and power of each configuration. Modular Open Systems Approach (MOSA) is the latest name for the philosophy of using modular building blocks based on open standards to build deployed systems that can be upgraded over time. While many new systems today are based on the latest architectures such as VXS and OpenVPX, there are still requirements to upgrade legacy systems and also to architect new systems that reuse legacy components such as VMEbased RF tuners. The same ADC and FPGA technology that enables the newest open standards can also be deployed through VME-compatible COTS modules to incrementally upgrade legacy systems while retaining compatibility with existing components and infrastructure. This enables an evolutionary approach to technology refresh, which lowers cost, schedule and performance risk without compromising the advantages of using the latest ADC and FPGA technology to improve mission capability. TEK Microsystems Chelmsford, MA. (978) 244-9200. [].

Tech Recon

Display and Computing Trends for UAV Ground Control

UAV Ground Control Systems Leverage Improved Display Ground control station designs are looking to advanced display subsystems to enable an unprecedented level of real-time situational awareness and command control.

Jeff Child Editor-in-Chief


AV Ground Control systems represent a focal point of advanced display and computing technology. The systems need real-time performance and sophisticated video and graphics processing. Meanwhile, the display subsystems in these systems need to display complex sets of real-time information. System architectures like ATCA and others have emerged as solutions for UAV Ground Control designs. This section compares the trends and products that meet the unique needs of these critical military systems. Command centers—both facility-based and mobile-based—along with UAV control stations, are making use of advanced display systems that do an unprecedented level of real-time situational awareness and command control. An example of an advanced UAV ground station design is AAI Corporation’s Universal Ground Control Station (UGCS) (Figure 1), which controls UAVs. AAI Corp.’s UGCS architecture meets U.S. Army and joint services interoperability requirements, as well as UAS joint information exchange capabilities for command, control, communications, computers, intelligence,

[ 32 ] COTS Journal August 2011

Figure 1

AAI’s Universal Ground Control Station offers a net-centric design, all-digital Tactical Common Data Link for data transmission, increased bandwidth and data security, weapons control, easy-to-read displays and up to 30 days of digitally archived data. surveillance and reconnaissance, or C4ISR. The system is designed for U.S. joint services interoperability require-

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Tech Recon

Powering the Control System

Figure 2

The U.S. Central Command’s Persistent Ground Surveillance System (PGSS) is a rapidly fielded system that includes a sensor-equipped, helium-filled aerostat platform.

[ 34Untitled-3 ] COTS1Journal August 2011

Earlier this year Saft received an order for lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries from AAI Corporation to supply back-up power for its UGCS. The 28V batteries are capable of integrated charging, an innovative feature that strengthens and simplifies the powering system. The high-energy, yet low-weight batteries have a capacity of 100 amp/hours and are made up of 16 VL 52E cells in a 2P8S configuration. The batteries will provide emergency back-up power for a flight-critical function of the UGCS. In the event of a power failure, the battery will activate, allowing the UGCS to carry out its UAV control mission. The batteries accept universal AC input and provide 28V DC output. While simplifying and reducing the size of the system, the Integrated Charger Battery (ICB) eliminates the need for an additional power source to charge the battery. ICB capability is a unique technology that Saft will apply to other systems in the future. Another advanced ground control system is the Ground Control station for

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the U.S. Central Command’s Persistent Ground Surveillance System (PGSS). PGSS is a rapidly fielded system that includes a sensor-equipped, helium-filled aerostat platform (Figure 2). The system increases intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities and provides a more complete surveillance picture through inclusion of information from new sensor systems. Last fall Sarnoff was awarded a subcontract by NEANY

issued under a prime contract with the Naval Air Systems Command to provide TerraSight Ground Stations (TGS) for use in the PGSS. The TerraSight Ground Stations will run Sarnoff ’s TerraSight video exploitation software. TerraSight is an advanced C4ISR-enabling solution that provides the theater with a common operating picture that fuses multiple real-time video and data feeds from a variety of sensors. Video and data feeds

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Display Technology for Training Realism Operating training is another key area where advanced display technology features are in high demand. Exemplifying that trend, RGB Spectrum’s DGy highdefinition digital recording and streaming systems were selected earlier this year for Northrop Grumman’s advanced Ground Control Station (GCS) operator training system for the BAMS UAS program. A key requirement is recording video at up to 1920x1200 pixels resolution for after-action-review. To maximize effectiveness, Northrop Grumman devised realistic imagery making the simulated ground stations indistinguishable from the real thing. The GCS training system uses three DGy 201HD codecs, each recording one of three PCs generating the simulated visuals, including complex telemetry, avionics, navigation, radar, HD video, geospecific terrain imagery and other related information. The DGy system achieves near lossless image compression with a leading-edge JPEG2000 wavelet-based codec. The operator training system simulates aircraft performance, communications systems, sensors, datalink operations, video feeds and environmental conditions as encountered in real-world operation. The system provides scenarios to enhance operator decision making, image analysis skills and task proficiency. Following a training session, instructors convene trainees for afteraction-reviews. Recordings are replayed from the DGy system for debriefing and analysis using the DGy’s f lexible playback capabilities, including event marking, instant random access, variable speed and frame-by-frame jog/ shuttle. The U.S. Navy’s new intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) program, the Broad Area Maritime Surveillance Unmanned Aircraft System (BAMS UAS), is the next generation of the Defense Department’s high-altitude, long-endurance system for coverage of oceanographic and littoral areas.

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Tech Recon

Display and Computing Trends for UAV Ground Control

Enhancement Options for Military Display Applications Marrying cutting-edge commercial display technologies with rugged environmental enhancements requires a whole host of technical issues to be addressed.

Richard Paynton, President and CEO Jeff Blake, Vice President, Business Development Dontech


Ambient Reflection: No Coating Ambient Light Source

lectronic displays such as LCDs with touch screens are being increasingly used in demanding military and rugTotal Luminous Reflection ≈ 12.75% ged environments such as command and or 638 fL in a control computers, GPS systems, vehicle 5,000 fc environment displays and mobile applications. Design d engineers are challenged to develop dis4.25% R play systems that meet a wide thermal 4.25% R range (-40° to + 85°C) and comply with 4.25% R diverse optical, electrical and mechanical parameters. Reflections, mechanical Coverglass impact andnow environmental stress (such nies providing solutions as thermal loading from Whether direct your sunlight) ion into products, technologies and companies. goal is to research the latest Air gap tion Engineer,can or jump to a company's technical page, the goal ofand Get Connected is to put you adversely affect the viewability you require for whatever type of technology, operation of displays with resistive touch Display and products you are searching for. screens as user interface systems. Figure 1 Commercial off-the-shelf displays and touch screens are increasingly driving The performance loss of a display assembly can exceed 12 percent due to the reflection system designs for a number of reasons. caused by index mismatch issues. With a touch screen, the reflection loss can exceed 24 The chief among these are component percent. cost, component availability/lead time, fewer company engineering resources and ease of integration. In addition, technol- nology with the types of features—such cycle. Because they are not designed for ogy-savvy military personnel understand as multi-touch functionality—found in military applications, commercial comand want current and “cutting-edge” tech- smartphones, tablet PCs and other com- ponents are not regulated by International mercial display systems. The advantages in Trafficking in Arms Regulations (ITAR). selecting off-the-shelf displays and touch This allows for a much broader supply Get Connected screens can greatly expedite the product chain and often more cost-effective comwith companies mentioned in this article. design, prototyping and qualification ponent selection.

End of Article

[ 40 ] COTS Journal August 2011

Tech Recon

Meeting Military Display Standards Application

Treatment of COTS Component

Regulatory Standards

Sunlight readability and reflection reduction; Contrast enhancement

Anti-glare (AG), anti-reflective coatings, AR/AG coatings, optical bonding, passive and active display enhancement

ICDM (pending 2011) VESA (FPDM 2.0) MIL-L-85762A MIL-C-14806

EMI/RFI Shielding; EMC

Transparent conductive coatings (e.g. ITO) or fine conductive grids (FGCs)

MIL-STD-461 D/E; CISPR11; BSEN55011

Impact Resistance; Shock

Protective LCD cover of polycarbonate or chemically strengthened glass; optical bonding

MIL-STD-810G Method 516.5; MILSTD901D; UL60950; UL60601

Improvement of environmental and mechanical durability

Scratch, abrasion and chemical resistant hard coatings and/or protective LCD cover; optical bonding

MIL-STD-810G; various methods address (fluids, salt fog, blowing sand & dust)

High temperature operation and storage

NIR blocking coatings

MIL-STD-810G Method 504.1

Low temperature operation and storage

LCD heater (transparent heaters applied to LCD front or rear surface)

MIL-STD-810G Method 502.4

Night vision applications

Night vision filters incorporated into display system


Table 1

Listed here are product applications and treatment options that can be used to improve optical and environmental performance, and applicable military and commercial display system standards.

Many Obstacles Although there is often a technology and performance overlap, there remain several obstacles to the incorporation of ordinary off-the-shelf displays and touch screens into military systems. Among these are the low sunlight (high ambient light) readability of off-the-shelf display and touch screen systems, electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) and environmental and mechanical ruggedness (ability to meet MIL-810-G). Also important hurdles are optical performance to meet MIL-3009 (NVIS compatibility and product lifetime support and/or re-qualification of end-of-life (EOL) components. Table 1 provides a listing of off-the-shelf product applications and treatment options that can be used to improve optical and environmental performance, and applicable military and commercial display system standards. A dichotomy exists between consumer off-the-shelf technology (which is often subject to frequent changes based [ 42 ] COTS Journal August 2011

on component obsolescence, manufacturing efficiencies and cost pressures) and military display system objectives, which are typically high performance, reliability and long-term support driven. In order to understand and address the parameters and variables associated with off-the-shelf components used in military and rugged display systems, system designers need to address questions. What is the display application—ground mobile, vehicle, aircraft or shipboard? How important to the display are: luminance, contrast, thermal range, color saturation, resolution, diffuse and specular reflection, viewing angle and factory product lifetime support? What type of touch screen best fits the application—resistive (4, 5, 8 wire) projective capacitive, or infrared? Beyond those questions, there are others that should be addressed such as: Will the touch screen be operated with gloved hand or subject to rain (which can affect projective capacitive touch screen operation)? What environmental stor-

age and operating conditions does the system need to meet? (-55° to +85°C is beyond the range of typical off-the-shelf displays.) Does the display need to be night vision instrument system (NVIS) compliant, compatible and friendly? What type of EMC does the system need to have? Once these questions are addressed, the technology to modify display systems for both high-ambient light readability and EMC compliance is readily available. Touch screens integrated into display assemblies can be configured with an electromagnetic interference (EMI) shielding conductive ground plane (CGP) and contrast enhancement features to address these issues. The enhancements described focus on AMLCD and resistive touch screen technology and their integration into high ambient light-readable display assemblies, but are applicable to other touch screen and display technologies as well.

Contrast Issues with Displays, Touch Screens Using VESA (Video Electronic Standards Association) FPDM 2.0 and military standard MIL-L-85762A as a basis for the test procedures and setup, the optical performance profile of the display systems can be accurately quantified. Contrast measurement, in a standardized high-ambient light environment and at normal and incident viewing angles, can provide a good indication of how the system will operate in the field. Contrast typically decreases with increased reflections in the display system (such as the insertion of a highly reflective touch screen) and viewing at greater angle of incident (AOI). Assessing the baseline offthe-shelf display system performance will indicate the types and degree of display enhancements necessary. High ambient light readability is a performance characteristic of the display system that is directly dependent upon the available luminance of the display, the amount of ambient illuminance, and the amount of ambient light reflected by the display and front optical components including the touch screen.

Tech Recon

To achieve high ambient readability, the system, when energized, must be readable in the worst-case conditions for the product’s intended use (such as direct sunlight). Surface ref lections, which occur at interfaces between mediums of differing refractive indices, degrade contrast by ref lecting the ambient light. For instance, plain, clear uncoated glass has a photopic ref lectance of 4.25 percent on each surface. The conductive coatings used in constructing most resistive touch screens have an even higher refractive index and can ref lect up to 8 to 10 percent per resistive layer. As shown in Figure 1, the performance loss of a display assembly can exceed 12 percent due to the ref lection caused by index mismatch issues. With a touch screen, the ref lection loss can exceed 24 percent.

System Enhancement Options Optical coatings are frequently used in the military display industry to address a variety of display performance issues. These include the reduction of specular and diffuse ref lection to improve high ambient light readability and the reduction of EMI/RFI emissions and susceptibility to achieve electromagnetic compatibility. Other issues should be considered such as the resistance to chemicals, scratches and abrasion, and the resistance to thermal loading (IR blocking coatings). Low temperature operation via a transparent ITO coated heater and NVIS compatibility are also factors. In outdoor environments, ambient lighting levels can exceed 10,000 candelas. High ambient light readability, as a performance characteristic of the display system, is ambient illuminance (light from the environment), and the amount of ambient light reflected by the display and front optical components— for example cover filter or touch screen. Because surface reflections are the most common cause of contrast degradation in a display system, anti-reflective and anti-glare coatings are commonly used to improve reflection characteristics and performance.

Ambient Light Source

Ambient Reflection: Optical Bonding

Total Luminous Reflection ≈ 0.75% or 37.5 fL in a 5,000 fc environment 0.25% R 0.25% R 0.25% R Coverglass Optical bond Display

Figure 2

Using optical bonding, two reflective surfaces are eliminated, thereby increasing contrast. In addition to minimizing reflections and improving contrast and high ambient readability, optical bonding can greatly improve the shock and vibration profile of the display system.

Anti-Reflective Coatings Anti-reflective (AR) coatings are thin film coatings that reduce the refractive index of adjacent mediums to reduce reflection and increase light transmission. When such coatings are applied to both the front and rear surface of a display filter or touch screen they can reduce surface photopic reflections by approximately 7 percent by reducing the inherent 4.25 percent reflection per surface to less than 0.75 percent. Anti-glare coatings are thick film coatings that reduce the coherence of the reflected image by scattering spectrally reflected light, and, therefore, defocusing the eye’s sensitivity to reflected images. The measure of anti-glare coatings is typically expressed as gloss level per ASTM-523. A common approach is to apply antireflective, anti-glare or conductive coatings to an optical substrate such as 0.003 to 0.009-inch PET or TAC and then to laminate it onto the surface of a touch screen or protective overlay. The flexible substrates can be hard coated with acrylic or silane-based hard coatings to improve mechanical and chemical durability to

meet recommended military Nuclear, Biological and Chemical “wash down” requirements for equipment decontamination (per FM3-5 and MCWP3.37.3 specifications). Fluorocarbon-based surface coatings include hydrophobic or oleophobic coatings used to minimize fingerprints on touch screens and AR coatings. Night vision compatibility coatings (also known as short wave pass (SWP) or Near Infrared (NIR) rejection coatings) reflect the NIR region of the spectrum that affects night vision goggles. Because MIL-3009compliant NVIS coatings usually reflect a higher percentage of the visible red spectrum, they are often used to attenuate NIR emissions internally, at the LED or CCFL light source, in a display system. Infrared blocking coatings reduce thermal loading and can minimize a display’s potential to go isotropic and “brown out” in direct sunlight.

Low Temperature Issues In low temperature environments (less than -20°C), the liquid crystals in LCDs can form anisotropic, solid crysAugust 2011 COTS Journal [ 43 ]

Tech Recon

Thin Film Conductive Coatings vs. Fine Wire Mesh CGP




10 â„Ś/sq Metal Alloy


7% - 8%


10 â„Ś/sq ITO


7% - 8%


10 â„Ś/sq IMITO




2 â&#x201E;Ś/sq ITO




2 â&#x201E;Ś/sq IMITO




50 Mesh


0.15% to 0.35%


80 Mesh


0.15% to 0.35%


100 Mesh


0.15% to 0.35%


255 Mesh


0.15% to 0.35%


Table 2

Compared here are the relative transmission and reflection properties and shielding effectiveness of transparent conductive coatings and grids.

tals. If the liquid crystal molecules are structurally disrupted, permanent optical defects can result. Likewise, temperature affects liquid crystalsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; switching speed from light transmitting to light blocking at the sub-pixel level. Consequently, LCD

response time can decrease by an order of magnitude between 25°C and -20°C. Because low temperature affects the optimal voltage needed to drive both the LCD and CCFLs (Cold Cathode Fluorescent Lamps), power consumption, luminance

and contrast are all negatively impacted by low temperature. To meet low operational temperature requirements, products like Dontechâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Therma-Klear transparent heaters can be installed on the rear surface of touch screens and displays or on the LCD front surface. Optically coupling the rear surface of a touch screen or protective filter with the front surface of the display using an index matched bonding adhesive is becoming an increasingly popular method to improve high ambient light readability. As shown in Figure 2, using optical bonding, two reflective surfaces are eliminated, thereby increasing contrast. In addition to minimizing reflections and improving contrast and high ambient readability, optical bonding can greatly improve the shock and vibration profile of the display system. To meet the electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) requirements of MILSTD-461, it is often necessary to modify display systems. Because the display face

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[ 44Untitled-8 ] COTS1Journal August 2011


Copyright © 2011 Kontron AG. All rights reserved. Kontron and the Kontron logo and all other trademarks or registered trademarks are the property of their respective owners and are recognized. Rev. # D108us02

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Tech Recon

is open and viewable, a conductive ground plane with satisfactory transparent properties (supporting high transmission from 380 to 780 nm) must be installed in the display’s optical path. Common EMI shielding techniques include integration of transparent conductive coatings or a fine conductive grid over the display. Table 2 shows relative transmission and reflection properties and shielding effec-

tiveness of transparent conductive coatings and grids.

Transparent Thin Film Conductive Coatings Transparent thin film conductive coatings typically include transparent conductive oxides (TCOs) such as indium tin oxide (ITO), and metal alloyed films (e.g., alternating layers consisting of Ag &

ITO). Increasing the conductivity of the coating will increase the average EMI attenuation level over the frequency range of 100 KHz through 20 GHz. Typical conductivities for transparent thin film conductive coatings for this purpose range from 1 ohm/sq to 100 ohms/sq. Because there is an inverse relationship between light transmittance and conductivity, a conductive coating can be fully integrated into a multi-layer dielectric stack as part of a broadband anti-reflection (AR) coating. This is commonly referred to as “index matching.” An AR coating reduces surface reflection losses and increases transmitted light. A fully enhanced TCO can have a total luminous reflection of less than 0.25 percent, enabling the total luminous transmittance (Tl) of greater than 95 percent to be realized.

Fine Conductive Grids (FCGs) Because FCGs offer excellent EMI shielding and good optical properties, it is most common to use conductive grids in military applications. A FCG pattern is typically made of woven stainless steel or copper mesh, or with a patterned metal coating on a surface of the substrate. Both technologies have high open areas and excellent conductivities. To protect displays from impact to meet MIL-STD-810G or UL 60601 and UL 60950 requirements, it is often necessary to construct the display cover or touch screen using chemically strengthened glass or polycarbonate. Use of off-the-shelf displays and touch screens can reduce overall costs as well as product design and development cycles in military applications. Knowing that the performance of off-the-shelf displays and touch screens can vary, it is advantageous to start with products that have properties close to those required in the end application and to select coatings and enhancements to improve optical, EMI/RFI and mechanical performance specifically suitable for the end program. Dontech Doylestown, PA. (215) 348-5010. []. [ 46Untitled-4 ] COTS1Journal August 2011

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System Development Military Data Acquisition and Sensors

Optical Sensing Changes Rules for Military Structural Measurements Although electrical sensors have been a mainstay technology for critical military structural measurements, optical sensing breaks down a host of limitations that electrical sensors canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t surmount. Nathan Yang, Product Manager, Optical Sensing & Structural Measurements National Instruments



n the world of military and defense, structures are more complex than ever, have extraordinary requirements, and often operate in extremely harsh conditions. New materials and d construction methods are also often used, making structural measureCore ments critical for military and defense structures. Electrical sensors have for decades been the standard mechanism for solutions structural nies providing now measurements includBuffer Coating ing technologies temperature, strain Whether and pressure. ion into products, and companies. your goal is to research the latest ation Engineer, or jumpthe to a company's technicalarchitecture page, the goal of Get is to put1you While fundamental of Connected Figure you require these for whatever type of technology, sensors has not changed, much and products you are searching for. A cross section of a typical fiber optic cable. progress has been made to increase accuracy, reduce noise and sample faster. Despite their ubiquity, these sen- per sensor, and cannot be easily desors have inherent limitations such as ployed in explosive environments, transmission loss and susceptibility to making their usage challenging or imelectromagnetic interference (noise). practical in many applications. Additionally, electrical sensors can From these challenges emerged corrode, are vulnerable to high volt- a solid set of optical sensing techages, require at least two copper wires nologies, built upon the tremendous amount of innovation in the optoelectronics and fiber-optic communicaGet Connected tion industries. Fiber optic sensors use with companies mentioned in this article. light and standard optical fiber rather than electricity and copper wires.

End of Article

[ 48 ] COTS Journal August 2011

Fiber Optic Sensing Fundamentally, a fiber optic sensor works by modulating one or more properties of a propagating light wave, including intensity, phase, polarization and frequency, in response to the environmental parameter being measured. At the core of optical sensing technology is the optical fiberâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;a thin strand of glass that transmits light within its core. An optical fiber is composed of three main components: the core, the

System Development

cladding and the buffer coating. Figure 1 shows a cross section of a typical fiber-optic cable. The cladding ref lects stray light back into the core, ensuring the transmission of light through the core with minimal loss. This is achieved with a higher refractive index in the core relative to the cladding, causing a total internal ref lection of light. The outer buffer coating serves to protect the fiber from external conditions and physical damage. It can incorporate many layers depending on the amount of ruggedness and protection required. A variety of optical sensing technologies have been developed over the years and are now readily available on the market. Among these are Fabry-Perot interferometers, fiber Bragg gratings (FBG) as well as distributed sensors based on Rayleigh, Raman and Brillouin optical scattering techniques. All of them are based on the use of an optical fiber as the main sensing element. Table 1 compares their range and typical measurements.

Backscattering Technologies Transmission loss, also known as attenuation, had historically been a limiting factor to the development of optical telecom systems. A significant reduction in the attenuation loss propelled optical fiber to become the dominant technology for high speed, long distance telecommunication. Although low, attenuation still exists in modern optical fibers, primarily caused by fiber scattering and absorption. Optical time-domain ref lectometers (OTDR) are used to evaluate the quality of the optical fibers and connectors by sending a narrow pulse of light and measuring the resulting backscatter. Backscattering describes the light that is scattered back toward the source. The same scattering phenomena and OTDR technology in telecom can be used for optical sensing. Rayleigh, the most dominant type of scattering, is caused by density and composition f luctuations created in the material during the manufacturing process. Rayleigh scattering occurs due to random microscopic variations

Optical Fiber Broadband Light Fiber Core Bragg Wavelength Fiber Bragg Grating Reflected Bragg Wavelength

Figure 2

Depicted here is the operation of a fiber Bragg grating (FBG) optical sensor.

in the index of refraction of the fiber core. When a narrow pulse of light is launched into a fiber, the variation in Rayleigh backscatter can help determine the approximate spatial location of these variations. Rayleigh backscatter can be used for sensing temperature and strain, and is typically effective at distances up to 70m. Rayleigh backscattering is often regarded as a promising and emerging technology. Another type of scattering is Raman, caused by the molecular vibrations of glass fiber stimulated by incident light. The resulting scatter has two wavelength components, one on either side of the main exciting light pulse wavelength: they are called Stokes and anti-Stokes. The ratio between Stokes and anti-Stokes is used for temperature sensing, and is immune to strain.

Brillouin Scattering Finally, a third type of scattering is Brillouin, which occurs from acoustic vibrations stimulated by incident light. To satisfy the requirement of energy conservation, there is a frequency shift between the original light pulse frequency and the Brillouin scattering wave. This frequency shift is sensitive to temperature and strain, and thus enables the profiling of temperature and stress variations throughout the length of the fiber. However it can be difficult to differentiate between temperature and strain. Special sen-

sor packaging and the combination of Brillouin with other sensing technologies (such as Raman or FBG, which will be covered later) can help separate the two physical phenomena. Backscattering technologies are well suited for monitoring slow changing parameters and thus perform static measurements where trends along the fiber are the primary interest. With backscattering optical sensing solutions, there is often a tradeoff between measurement resolution, spatial resolution and sampling rate. Higher spatial and measurement resolutions require lower sampling rates, hovering anywhere between 1 sample/s to 1 sample per hour over a distance span of up to 30 km. Spatial resolutionâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; the physical location on the fiberâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;is typically limited to about 1m, however it can be improved through signal processing and lower sampling rates. For higher-speed, more accurate and point sensor measurements, the better option is Fabry-Perot interferometers and fiber Bragg gratings. Fabry-Perot interferometer sensors are essentially composed of two parallel mirrors separated by a cavity. Intrinsic fiber Fabry-Perot interferometric sensor (FFPI) mirrors are separated by a single-mode fiber, while extrinsic Fabry-Perot sensor (EFPI) mirrors are separated by an air gap. In both cases when light is sent into the sensor, multiple beams of light interfere between the two mirrors to create August 2011 COTS Journal [ 49 ]

System Development

a series of peaks in the resulting optical spectrum. The spacing between the spectrum peaks changes in relation to the change in spacing between the mirrors, which in turn could vary in relation to a physical phenomena. This method enables a single point sensor measurement per fiber, typically of temperature and pressure.

Fiber Bragg Gratings


phenomena including temperature, strain, vibration, displacement and pressure. It also provides the ability to daisy chain dozens of sensors along a single optical fiber. This makes it an ideal technology for replacing conventional electrical sensors. FBGs are constructed by altering the refractive index of the fiber. When a broad-spectrum light beam is sent to an FBG, ref lections from each segment of alternating refractive index interfere constructively only for a specific wavelength of light, called the Bragg wavelength (Figure 2). This effectively causes the FBG to ref lect a specific frequency of light while transmitting all others. Because the peak Bragg wavelength is a function of the spacing between the gratings, FBGs can be manufactured with various Bragg wavelengths, which enables different FBGs to ref lect unique wavelengths of light. Thus, one can daisy-chain several FBGs with unique Bragg wavelengths on a single, continuous optical fiber. The number of sensors that you can incorporate within a single fiber depends on the wavelength range of operation of each sensor and the total available wavelength range of the optical sensor interrogator (OSI). Because wavelength shifts due to strain are typically more pronounced than temperature, FBG strain sensors are often given about a 5 nm range, while FBG temperature sensors require approximately 1 nm. Because typical interrogators provide a measurement range of 40 to 80 nm, each fiber array of sensors can usually incorporate anywhere from one to more than 80 sensors—as long as the ref lected wavelengths do not overlap in the optical spectrum (Figure 3).


Accounting for Strain and Temp Effects

One of the most versatile and broadly deployed optical sensors is the fiber Bragg grating (FBG), which ref lects a specific wavelength of light that shifts in response to variations in temperature and/or strain. This technology can address the widest range of applications because of its ability to measure many types of physical

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Because an FBG responds to both strain and temperature, one needs to account for both effects and to distinguish between the two. For sensing temperature, the FBG must remain unstrained. You can use packaged FBG

System Development













Figure 3

Each FBG optical sensor in an array must occupy a unique spectral range.

temperature sensors to ensure the FBG inside the package is not coupled to any bending, tension, compression, or torsion forces. FBG strain sensors are somewhat more complex because both temperature and strain inf luence the sensor’s ref lected wavelength. For proper strain measurements, you must compensate for the temperature effects on the FBG, similar to conventional electrical foil strain gages. You can achieve this by installing an FBG temperature sensor in close thermal contact with the FBG strain sensor and subtracting the FBG temperature sensor wavelength shift from the FBG strain sensor wavelength shift. The selection and use of FBG optical sensors is simple, with an installation process almost identical to the established methods originally created for electrical sensors. The installation of these FBG optical sensors is equally simple and often made easier when compared to traditional electrical sensors: one can glue, weld and embed FBG sensors while having fewer cables to manage and no noise, isolation and/ or shielding considerations to address. Also a variety of types of optical cables exist, from simple low-cost to rugged deep sea cables, meeting the most extreme and stringent requirements.

Benefits and Use of FBG Optical Sensing FBG optical sensors are non-conductive, electrically passive, immune to EMI, lightweight and non-corrosive. This translates to the ability to

perform sensor measurements near high voltages, high sources of electromagnetic interference and in explosive environments. Also, contrary to technologies like electrical foil strain gages, the behavior of optical fibers is very stable over time, making it an excellent option for long-term SHM, where correlating measurements over years and decades are required. FBG optical sensing systems can also interrogate sensors over long distances with the use of powerful lasers and low-loss

fibers arrays. With an industry-leading OSI like the NI PXIe-4844, one can achieve a temperature resolution of around 0.1°C, strain resolution of around 0.7 microstrain, and interrogate sensors over 10 km away from the measurement system. In civil infrastructure and geotechnical military applications, sensors are often deployed over extremely long distances, exposed to harsh environmental conditions, and are vulnerable to lightning. The ability to daisy chain multiple sensors on a single 10+ km fiber greatly reduces the complexity of the system. Furthermore, optical fiber does not corrode or conduct like copper wire, which increases longevity and reduces the risk of damage due to lightning. And unlike electrical sensing systems, interrogators like the NI PXIe-4844 (equipped with a NIST-traceable gas cell reference) never require external calibration, a great benefit for long-term system deployments. For vehicles and mechanical structures, external noise and weight

Figure 4

FBG optical sensing makes sense on military aircraft because they’re immune to EMIinduced noise and allow system designers to avoid adding dozens of strain gages with four copper wires per gage—which adds a lot of weight. August 2011 COTS Journal [ 51 ]

System Development

are problems often encountered with conventional electrical sensors. Electric motors, for example, can generate strong electromagnetic interference, potentially adding significant error to your measurement. Military aircrafts (Figure 4) on the other hand must maintain their light weight. That means adding dozens of strain gages with four copper wires per gage can be prohibi-

tive. FBG optical sensing can alleviate all of these issues, as they are immune to EMI-induced noise and have dozens of sensors daisy-chained along on a single thin and lightweight optical fiber.

Modular Hardware and Flexible Software Modern structural measurement systems must be able to perform more

than one task. These often need to also provide alarm notifications, signal processing, data logging, GPS timestamps, optical sensing capabilities, synchronization with electrical sensors, output control signals, and much more. Additionally, one must be able to develop the system quickly while keeping the total system cost to a minimum. To do this, choosing the right software and form factor for your structural measurement system is critical. A modular standard platform like PXI delivers all of the aforementioned capabilities in a single chassis. And choosing a software development environment like NI LabVIEW can abstract all of the hardware complexity, enabling you to focus solely on the task at hand and easily integrate optical sensing into your measurement system. Overall, the benefits of FBG optical sensors can help solve many challenging sensing applications that cannot be easily addressed with conventional electrical sensors. Optical sensors are distinctively different from the traditional sensor archetype, yet still deliver a familiar ease of use. In summary, FBG optical sensors are powerful and versatile, yet are simple measuring tools that can be easily adopted in a broad variety of civil, industrial, military and defense applications. National Instruments Austin, TX. (800) 258-7022. [].

[ 52Untitled-5 ] COTS1Journal August 2011

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Technology Focus High-Density Storage Subsystems

Military Data Storage Systems Enter the Terabyte Era As data storage becomes an ever more critical activity, military systems are embracing the availability of Terabyte-scale storage solutions that offer high performance and high reliability. Jeff Child Editor-in-Chief


igh-density data storage is an increasingly key part of many military embedded systems. Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) systems in particular take in huge volumes of data that often must be recorded in real time for later analysis. Although the platforms such data is stored on span a wide range of requirements, high storage capacity, performance, and size, weight and power (SWaP) constraints are usually high priorities. Needs range from high-bandwidth embedded data recording to more generic file serving and general purpose RAID storage needs. Meeting these demands is a diverse offering of storage systems—most of which now offer capacities in the multiple Terabyte range. Military storage implementations used in conjunction with embedded systems have historically fallen into two categories. One is low-capacity, low-performance embedded storage boards. The other is highercapacity, higher-performance, but physically much larger and heavier external storage boxes or subsystems. However, current flash-based Solid State Drive (SSD) technology—combined with optimized storage controller architectures—has fueled the development of embedded storage blades that provide high levels of consistent performance, reliability and capacity. One current trend is the move to a concept of unified, scalable embedded storage. The building blocks of this approach are flexible storage blades. Unified storage means that all of a system’s storage needs can be supported by a single storage blade. And since these blades are scalable, multiple instances of the storage blade can be aggregated to provide higher levels of capacity and performance, while still being integrated, managed and used in exactly the same manner as a single blade. The flexibility of a unified storage blade architecture allows it to be used for a large variety of embedded storage applications. That means replacing large power-hungry external RAID and NAS boxes with a compact, simple, high-performance and high-reliability single blade solution. Some typical applications include Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) systems and Radar/Sonar/Imaging data recording and playback. The latest crop of high-density, rugged solid state storage solutions is enabling military system developers to pack in system complexity without

[ 54 ] COTS Journal August 2011

Figure 1

An Army soldier employs C4ISR by analyzing correlations in data depicted on a Distributed Common Ground System map. the burden of memory storage constraints. Just as computing interconnects have transitioned away from parallel buses toward serial interconnect schemes, so too have the interface technologies of the high-density storage realm. That trend is also fueled by the continued dependence on compute- and data-intensive software. With that in mind, Serial ATA has become the dominant interface technology for new storage subsystem designs. SCSI and Fibre Channel in contrast seem to be waning—although far from retreating. Meanwhile, the redundancy of RAID architectures is still a preferred way to ensure reliable mission-critical operations. High-density, reliable data storage is a critical part of the DoD’s collaborative enterprise called the Distributed Common Ground System (DCGS) (Figure 1). The DCGS will integrate multiple ISR sensors and systems across the battlefield and draw intelligence data from various sources, then correlate that data into an integrated picture of the battlespace. Using an open systems architecture, it enables interoperability with a wide range of previously “stove-piped” ISR systems. Each service is developing a portion of the DCGS family of systems; the Air Force is already planning the next major upgrade of this net-centric capability that uses the DCGS Integration Backbone (DIB).

Technology Focus:

High-Density Storage Subsystems Roundup Portable System Offers 800 Mbyte/s PCI Express Recording and Playback Conduant’s Big River LTX3 Portable Recorder supplies up to 800 Mbytes/s of sustained PCI Express recording and playback performance and capacity for mobile, portable or space-constrained applications. The Big River LTX3 Portable Recorder is a compact, power efficient system that can operate independently from a host computer with command/control performed over an Ethernet network connection. Control can also be automated from a software application using Conduant’s StreamStor software API from a network connected computer. An 8-lane cabled PCIe interface provides connectivity to a host computer for command/control and/or data access. Highly scalable with storage capacities up to 8 Terabytes, the LTX3 1U chassis measures only 17 x 20 x 1.75 inches.

Based on the StreamStor Amazon Express architecture, the LTX3 supports many of the same external interface mezzanine cards provided by the Amazon Express platform. This includes serial protocols such as Serial FPDP, SerialLite II and 10GigE utilizing optical or copper interconnect. LVDS raw data is also accommodated through a parallel interface. Pricing for the LTX3 starts at $28,000 and units are currently available.

Conduant Longmont, CA. (303) 485-2721. [].

3 Terabyte Storage Blade Rides OpenVPX

Network Attached Storage File Servers Target Defense Systems

This year has seen a second wave of supporting OpenVPX product roll out, and storage technology is part of the mix. Critical I/O has made available its OpenVPX StoreEngine scalable solid state storage blade. StoreEngine is a scalable storage server designed for high-performance embedded systems. StoreEngine provides the built-in capability to operate as a high-bandwidth data recorder, embedded RAID or file server. The product is easily scalable in storage capacity and performance by simply adding additional StoreEngine blades, which work together seamlessly. StoreEngine provides unmatched storage capability, ultra high performance and high capacity all within a small size, weight and power (SWaP) footprint. StoreEngine is ideal for high-bandwidth data recording, file serving

Curtiss-Wright Controls Electronic Systems has introduced the Vortex Data Transport System (DTS), a new family of ruggedized DZUS form factor Network Attached Storage (NAS) File Servers (FS) designed for use in sea, air and ground vehicles, field stations and benign laboratories. Easily integrated into Network Centric systems, Vortex DTS servers speed and simplify the integration of NAS FS secure removable storage into military platforms. Applications for the Vortex DTS include cockpit data loader/recorders and data transfer systems.

and general purpose RAID applications. Embedded storage applications are often challenging as they require a wide range of performance, capacity and interface options. This is particularly true for high-bandwidth data recording functions. StoreEngine addresses those specialized requirements by making it highly configurable and easy to scale by adding additional blades. File serving, RAID and data recording functions are all built in and available with a single StoreEngine blade. And by simply adding blades you can scale—or aggregate—capacity and performance to address the requirements of the most demanding applications. The OpenVPX version of the StoreEngine is available now.

Critical I/O Irvine, CA. (949) 553-2200.

Vortex DTS file servers provide military system integrators with an easy-to-use, turn-key, rugged NAS FS with optimized interoperability across the product line. All Vortex DTS FSs share a common hardware and software architecture. They feature multiple rugged 128 Gbyte flash storage Removable Memory Cartridges (RMC). The RMC can be easily removed and installed to seamlessly provide full transfer of data between one or more networks in separate locations. The standard Vortex DTS is configured with three RMCs, with an option for a fourth RMC. Each compact RMC weighs only ½ pound and is small enough to fit in a shirt or flight-suit pocket. Designed for use in harsh military environments, RMCs are built to withstand extremes in temperature, shock and vibration. To ensure the security of critical data, all data is passed through the DTS inline media encryption module prior to being read or written to an RMC. The DTS encryption capability is modular such that various schemes from no encryption to NSA Type 1 can be developed to meet program requirements. The standard DTS encryption module incorporates AES 256-bit cryptographic hardware that is NIST validated to FIPS 140-2.

[]. Curtiss-Wright Controls Electronic Systems Santa Clarita, CA. (661) 257-4430. []. [ 56 ] COTS Journal August 2011

High-Density Storage Subsystems Roundup

6U NAS Blade Provides up to 1.2 Tbyte SATA Storage

Dual-Active Fibre RAID SAN Storage Solution Is Scalable

One Terabyte of Solid State Storage in Single 3U VPX Slot

Board-level RAID solutions have revamped the character of military storage systems. Elma Electronic Systems offers the 6211 cPCI RAIDStor with up to 1.2 Terabytes in a single cPCI slot or 2.4 Terabytes with two slots. The new 6U CompactPCI blade network attached storage (NAS) board provides automatic and transparent cross-network or intra-blade data replication and re-sync for enhanced data security and preservation. The new RAIDStor is suitable for use in any embedded application demanding high availability and reliability. These include data-intensive applications, message processing and network-centric military applications.

High-speed, reliable, mass storage has become a crucial part of many military development efforts. With just that in mind, Enhance Technology has released its new UltraStor ES3160 FS dual-active Fibre RAID SAN storage solution. ES3160 FS is the latest addition to the award-winning UltraStor enterprise storage line, featuring dual active RAID controllers, high data bandwidth, cache mirroring, load-balancing and user-friendly WebGUI all in one densely packed 3U 16-drive rackmount system.

A Terabyte of solid state storage in a single 3U VPX slot is the boast of the newly available conduction- or air-cooled 3U VPX XPort6172 Solid State Disk (SSD) from Extreme Engineering Solutions. The basic module provides up to 512 Gbytes, or a half Terabyte (½ TB), of solid state storage with data encryption. However, 1 Terabyte in a single 3U VPX slot is achievable by mounting the XPort6103 512 Gbyte XMC SSD onto the XMC site of the XPort6172. The XPort6172 and XPort6103, individually or combined, satisfy the rigors of MIL-STD-810F and -461E—they are ready for the harshest deployments.

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Get Connected is a new resource for further exploration into products, technologies and companies. Whether your goal The UltraStor ES3160 FS uses sixteen is to research latest datasheetdisk fromtrays a company, speak directly (16x)the hot-swappable with up to 32 with an Application Engineer, or jump to a company's technical page, the Tbyte and is expandable up to 60 Tbyte total goal of Get Connected is to put you in touch with the right resource. Standard with dual 2.5” SATA hard disk storage capacity (raw) via three (3x) ES3160 Whichever level of service you require for whatever type of technology, drives, the new RAIDStor also comes in JS enterprise JBOD storage systems with Get Connected will help you connect with the companies and products lower capacity configurations. Front panel, SAS hard drives. The scalability of ES3160 you are searching for.

The XPort6172 supports 256-bit AES encryption, utilizing the 123 NIST- and CSEcertified Enova Technology X-Wall MX-256C removable drive canisters with hot swap enable FS helps administrators to add more storage encryption chip. Additionally, the XPort6172 the fastest mean time to repair (MTTR) in the capacity as their business grows, and lowers supports “zeroization” (enhanced erase) and industry. Solid state drives can also be used IT maintenance cost, simplifies operations satisfies DoD NISPOM 5220.22 and NSA/CSS for rugged, high-capacity RAID reliability. and improves resource utilization. Equipped 9-12 specifications. Also available is ATA Secure The cPCI RAIDStor can be arranged in a with auto disk spin-down and powered by Erase support and optional declassification via single- or dual-star network topology to redundant 80-Plus green power supply, the hardware or software control. The XPort6172 provide complete redundancy in network paths UltraStor ES3160 FS helps businesses reduce provides best-in-class performance, with up as well as port failover services enabled or downtime andwith decrease energyand consumption. to 200 Mbytes/s Get Connected technology companies providing solutions nowsustained sequential read disabled with a single command for continuous The ES3160 FS is compatible with VMware ESX performance and 120 Mbytes/s sustained Get Connected is a new resource for further exploration into products, technologies and companies. Whether your goal is to research th system availability. The cPCI RAIDStor is datasheet3.5 and vSphere 4.0 servers, which allow users sequential write performance and 100,000 from a company, speak directly with an Application Engineer, or jump to a company's technical page, the goal of Get Connect configurable to RAID level 0 (data striping) in fortouch with to take advantage of storage virtualization, program/erase cycles. Operating temperature the right resource. Whichever level of service you require for whatever type of technology, increased bandwidth as well as RAID levelGet 1 Connected furtherwillreducing investment on hardware is searching -40° to 85°C. help you the connect with the companies and productsrange you are for. (data mirroring) or RAID level 5 (distributed and servers resulting in an immense savings on parity—requires dual blade/four drive total cost of ownership. Users will appreciate Extreme Engineering Solutions configuration) for data redundancy. Pricing the UltraStor ES3160 FS easy-to-use Webfor the 6211 cPCI RAIDStor starts at $5,000 based cross-platform RAID management Middleton, WI. for single-slot configurations and $6,000 for a and monitoring system with event log, email (608) 833-1155. dual-slot version, capacity dependent. notification and easy configuration.

[]. Elma Electronic Fremont, CA. (510) 656-3400. [].


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End of Article

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August 2011 COTS Journal [ 57 ]

High-Density Storage Subsystems Roundup

Terabyte Rugged NAS System Is Palm-Sized Today’s military system design is all about compute density and that often means storage density too. Along such lines, General Micro Systems has developed a fully sealed, rugged, ultra-small, low-power system with Quad Removable SSD. The SX401R-4 (“Depot”) is the industry’s smallest, lightest, total out-ofthe-box data logger/recorder that supports all Network Attached Storage (NAS) protocols, and still offers superior performance as a fully functioning computer. It offers 1 Terabyte of data in only 63 cubic inches and 2.5 lbs, with sustained operation never exceeding 20W.

Up to four removable, sealed SSD drives (250 Gbytes each) in the unit are each accessed via SATA or a USB port when removed, which means users don’t need a system to read the data, just a USB cable. Because the drives are sealed, Depot and the drives can be dropped in water as well as withstand the forces of adverse weather conditions, making it ideal for handling by military personnel and critical field operations. Depot is compliant to MIL-STD-810G, MILSTD-704E and MIL-STD-461F. It is available as a rugged, conduction-cooled and extended temperature (-40° to +85°C) package. Single units ship 60 days ARO. Pricing for single quantities of Depot (SX401R-4) (without SSDs) starts at $4,850. Taking into account rapidly declining SSD pricing, 1 Terabyte is available for less than $9,000.

General Micro Systems Rancho Cucamonga, CA.

Fibre Channel RAID System Serves up 48 Terabytes of Native Capacity With data storage becoming such a missioncritical component of military systems, the reliability of RAID configurations is in high demand. Serving such needs is JMR’s BlueStor FibreStream Fibre Channel RAID Storage System. The storage system delivers extremely fast sustained performance and high reliability for the most demanding video and data applications. The FibreStream provides Fibre-to-the-host, SAS/SATA-to-the-drives and comes with four 8 Gbit/s Fibre Channel host ports (LC-SFPs) for the utmost in data delivery. Each FibreStream RAID shelf unit contains sixteen hot-swappable disk drive canisters in a dense 3U rackmount frame. The canisters carry the latest 3 Gbit/s SAS or SATA II disk drives, affording up to 48 Terabytes of native capacity using the latest SATA II disk drives. The disk drives are contained in unique lightweight, high technology resin carriers having integrated light pipes, latching handles, EMI shields and are all interchangeable with other BlueStor product disk carriers.

FibreStream can be easily expanded past the sixteen internal drives by daisy chaining a BlueStor SAS JBOD Expansion unit through two SAS 8088 connectors provided on the rear of each FibreStream enclosure. Multiple expansion units can be further connected to expand RAID volumes. To ensure extreme reliability in the worst conditions, FibreStream features redundant (N+1) hot-swappable 620W power supplies and redundant (N+1) hot-swappable cooling fans. Offering a wide selection of RAID data protection modes, the FibreStream can be configured for RAID levels 0, 1, 4, 5, 6, 10, 40, 50 or 60, delivering over 1.6 Gbyte/s performance in RAID 50. True SES 2.0 services are integrated for local or remote monitoring to help guarantee enterprise-class reliability.

(909) 980-4863. [].

JMR Electronics Chatsworth, CA. (818) 993-4801. [].

[ 58 ] COTS Journal August 2011 Untitled-4 1

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High-Density Storage Subsystems Roundup

AC-DC Converters Rugged 3U cPCI Data Recording Server Targets Harsh Environments Mission-critical applications like surveillance need data recording solutions that can survive harsh environments and provide data integrity. Feeding such needs is the application-ready Kontron rugged RAID Data Server OBSERVO. The server is based on 3U CompactPCI technology, which offers modularity and longevity in a robust design. The Kontron OBSERVO can be configured to meet the specific application needs for video, radar or sonar data recording.

Kontron’s rugged RAID Data Server OBSERVO boasts a high-speed RAID array comprising up to eight SATA-II hard disks or Solid State Drives (SSDs). The server also features high availability and high shock and vibration resistance to fulfill the requirements of mobile and naval-based surveillance applications, for example. The OBSERVO can be configured with several different performance options such as Ethernet switch integration, extended duty (24/7) drives and a range of communication options. If required, conformal coating can also be included to protect the system against humidity and dust, which is especially relevant for EN50155 compliancy and deployment in railway applications such as railway platform edge observation or video recording in local trains to prevent vandalism. The Kontron rugged RAID Data Server OBSERVO can be configured to accommodate the extended temperature range of -40° to +80°C to deliver trouble-free 24/7 operation under extreme environmental conditions, for example, in borderland surveillance applications. The rugged CompactPCI design with the high-performance backplane eliminates the need for internal cabling. Also, the hot swappable hard disk and SSD carriers minimize system maintenance.

Kontron Poway, CA. (888) 294-4558.

Power Factor Corrected

Disk Array Offers 12 Terabytes of Rugged Storage

5-300Vdc Isolated DC Output

Military storage requirements go way beyond those of office systems. Operating rotating disk reliably at over 40,000 ft. for example is no easy task. Serving such needs, One Stop Systems offers its Military Disk Array (MDA-T5). This ultra-rugged, high-performance RAID storage system has dual removable drive packs and dual SBB 2.0-compliant high-speed controllers each with two Fibre Channel 8 Gbit/s inputs. Each drive pack is capable of transporting up to 12 Terabytes of data (using 2 TB SATA drives). The hermetically sealed drive packs ensure operation to altitudes of 41,000 feet (12,496m) and are rugged and fully field deployable in harsh environments. The unit offers sustained data transfer rates of over 300 Mbyte/s per controller.

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The single or dual RAID controllers support RAID levels 0, 1, 10 and 5. The systems dimensions are 19 x 6.97 x 24-inches with drive pack dimensions of 8.2 x 4.8 x 11.2-inches. The system weighs 65 lbs (29.5 kg) overall and each drive pack weighs 15 lbs (6.8 kg). Operating temperature is -18° to +45°C; 0° to +113°F and non-operating temperature is -55° to +71°C; -67° to +160°F. Environment testing compliance includes: shock, vibration, temperature, humidity, salt fog and explosive atmosphere all per MIL-STD-810F. Emission/ Immunity ratings are per MIL-STD-461 (CE101, CE102, CS114, RE101, RE102, RS103).

• ALL in ONE compact full brick module, 2.5" x 4.6" x 0.8" Vacuum encapsulated for use in rugged environments • Lower cost for your Industrial applications • Maximize your design up to 300 watt models • Meets Harmonic Distortion specifications • .99 Power factor rating at operational levels • Expanded operating temperatures available -40 & -55C, +85 & 100C base plate • Custom models available

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One Stop Systems Escondido, CA. (877) 438-2724. [].

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[]. August 2011 COTS Journal [ 59 ] Untitled-10 1

7/5/11 12:08:36 PM

High-Density Storage Subsystems Roundup

Real-Time Recording and Playback Instrument Does 1,600 Mbytes/s The amount of data that military signal processing systems can now take in is staggering. Recording gear must be fast to keep pace. Feeding such needs, Pentek offers its first multichannel real-time recording and playback instrument based on the company’s popular Cobalt family of Xilinx Virtex-6 FPGA modules—the Model RTS 2706. Housed in a 4U rack-mountable enclosure, the RTS 2706 utilizes 16-bit 200 MHz A/Ds and 16-bit 800 MHz D/As with as many as 20 hotswappable SATA (Serial Advanced Technology Attachment) drives configurable as RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks) Levels 0, 1, 5, 6, 10 or 50. The RTS 2706 instrument includes COTS (Commercial-off-the-Shelf) features that can be selected by the customer to suit his application.

These flexible, customer-selectable features include A/D channel count, DDC (digital down converter) capabilities, D/A and DUC (digital upconverter) resources for the realtime reproduction of recorded signals, storage drive capacity and GPS time stamping and positioning. The RTS 2706 is Pentek’s first high-bandwidth digital recorder to utilize the Windows 7 Professional operating system. By using this operating system, the instrument is able to handle as many as twenty 1 Terabyte drives in a RAID configuration, recording data in NTFS (New Technology File System) format to eliminate the need for data conversion that can take as long as the recording itself. The RTS 2706 is priced based on configuration, starting at $44,995.

Pentek Upper Saddle River, NJ. (201) 818-5900. []. [ 60 ] COTS Journal August 2011 Untitled-2 1

8/3/11 9:49:30 AM

VME SAS/SATA SSD Works at 80,000 Feet VME remains a popular form factor for military platforms, and that includes storage. Phoenix International’s VS1-250-SSD Serial Attached SCSI (SAS)/Serial ATA (SATA)-based Solid State Disk VME blade delivers highcapacity, high-performance data storage for military, aerospace and industrial applications requiring rugged, secure and durable mass data storage. This 6U, single-slot module houses one or two each 2.5-inch SAS or SATA SSDs of up to 256 Gbytes per device, and can be interfaced through its front panel connector or its P2 connector. The high-speed module will sustain read/write data rates of 120 Mbytes/s with an access time of 0.5 msec.

The VS1-250-SSD has an operating temperature range from -40° to 85°C and functions at an altitude greater than 80,000 feet. The VS1-250-SSD also complies with current defense department security standards providing multiple levels of secure erase techniques. As a drop-in replacement for a traditional hard disk drive, the VS1-250-SSD offers significantly lower power consumption and eliminates seek time, latency and other electromechanical delays commonly associated with conventional rotating media. The VS1250-SSD’s performance and versatility is enabled by Phoenix International’s state-ofthe-art technology, which provides very high transfer and I/O rates, enhanced endurance and maximum data integrity. A conduction-cooled version of the unit is also available.

Phoenix International Orange, CA. (800) 203-4800. [].





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OpenVPX Card Serves Up GPGPU Processing with NVIDIA Fermi

Connected The idea of doing general purpose processing using graphics processing units is catching onGet quickly in the with companies mentioned in this article. military. those needs, Curtiss-Wright Controls Embedded Computing (CWCEC) announced its GetServing Connected with companies and products featured in this section. first general purpose graphics processing unit (GPGPU) multicore engine, the VPX6-490 GPU Application Accelerator. The VPX6-490 features dual NVIDIA GPUs based on the NVIDIA Fermi architecture, each with 240 CUDA cores. Integrated into a High Performance Embedded Computing (HPEC) subsystem, VPX6-490 functions as a co-processor attached to a host Intel-processor board and takes advantage of the new PCIe Expansion Plane definitions in the VITA 65 OpenVPX standard to provide off-the-shelf backplane support for high-speed interconnection between pairs of SBC/GPU. The combination of 2nd Generation Intel processors, gen2 PCI Express interconnect and 480 NVIDIA CUDA cores raises the performance bar for embedded High Performance Embedded Computing (HPEC) systems for demanding military DSP applications such as C4ISR, EO/IR and SatCom. The VPX6-490 takes full advantage of GPUs based on the NVIDIA Fermi architecture. Designed for high-performance computing, the newest generation of NVIDIA processors feature larger internal shared memories, a completely new L2 cache, unified memory addressing and many other enhancements to improve CUDA-based applications performance and improve programmer productivity. The VPX6-490 supports its dual highperformance GPU processors with a 2 Gbyte, 256-bit wide, 80 Gbyte/s GDDR5 memory subsystem designed to eliminate data bottlenecks and support large signal processing datasets into the onboard memory. Each GPU device supports a full 16-lane Gen2 PCIe interface to the backplane, supporting the maximum possible bandwidth between host and GPU. The VPX6-490 also supports 8-lane and 4-lane PCIe interfaces. Curtiss-Wright Controls Embedded Computing, Ashburn,VA. (703) 779-7800. [].

Single Output Power Supply up to 100W Martek Power has announced the Powertron VER series of low-cost, medium power, single output DC/DC converters. Key features include a very small footprint, 90% efficiency and a wide choice of input and output voltages. Though designed for railway applications, the device offers ruggedness and reliability features that overlap nicely with military needs. The VER series DC/ DC converters feature a very small footprint (110 x 70 x 40 mm for the standard version) and are extremely cost-effective. The low voltage input version covers 24 and 36V nominal voltages, while the high voltage version is suitable for 72, 96 and 110V nominals. Output voltages can be specified from 12V to 48VDC and maximum output power is 100W. An optional ventilated steel cover is available giving protection to IP20. Operating temperature range is -40° to +70°C with no derating.

Martek Power, Torrance, CA. (310) 202-8820. [].

EMC Test Software Adds DO-160 Module for Aerospace Designs Teseq has introduced a new aerospace test application for use in its Compliance 5 EMC test software. The DO-160 RF emissions and immunity test module makes set-up and testing fast and easy. Preloaded, standard hardware configurations and limit lines enable users to quickly configure their hardware and select the required test. A pre-configured menu system allows users to select various settings including standards, test levels, test methods, modulation settings, leveling methods, limit lines, peak analysis and failure analysis. Users can customize the results graph and table to include company logo, text, test details and pictures. Dedicated help menus and application manuals are also available for DO-160 applications. This new update supports versions E, F and G of the DO-160 standard including conducted and radiated immunity (Section 20) and emissions (Section 21), ensuring that tests can be accurately performed with minimal set-up.

Teseq, Edison, N.J. (732) 417-0501. [].

DC/DC Converter Input Filter Offers Wide Temp Range Calex Manufacturing has announced the EFIL-100-10 input filter. The EFIL-100-10, measuring 1” x 2” x 0.47”, provides a pcb mount plug and play solution to assist in controlling EMI for board level DC/DC converter applications. The device is optimized for Calex converters. The EFIL-100-10 can be used with a single DC/DC converter or as the front end for multiple Calex converters as long as the total input current does not exceed 10A. The filter contains input and output capacitors plus differential and common mode inductors. The EFIL-100-10 is isolated input to output. The isolation voltage is 1000 VDC. The maximum input voltage for the EFIL-100-10 is 100 VDC. The maximum input frequency is 100 Hz. The case operating temperature range is -40° to +80°C at 7A. The storage range is -40° to +105°C. The unit is housed in a water washable plastic, non-conductive case and is available in both RoHS and non-RoHS construction.

Calex, Concord, CA. (925) 687-4411. [].

[ 62 ] COTS Journal August 2011

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Portable IFF Test Set Receives Full Certification Military test gear can now do what once took a whole rack of boards and systems to do. Along just such lines, Aeroflex has announced that its APMGet Connected with companies featured in this section. 424(V)5 IFF (Identification Friendand or products Foe) portable test set has received full certification from the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) AIMS International Program Office. The tester is in full compliance with DoD AIMS 03-1000A performance standards for Mark XIIA performance and ICAO Annex 10 international standards for Mode S ELS/EHS performance for ramp testing of IFF transponders and interrogators. The APM424(V)5 is the first available, portable MK XIIA Mode 5 Level 2/Mode S ELS/EHS test set that has received full certification from the DoD AIMS Program Office. The new APM-424(V)5 replaces the APM-424(V)3, TS-4530 and TS-4530-1. For customers with existing test sets, Mode 5 upgrade kits are available. Upgraded units can be used with current TOs/ TMs (Technical Orders/Technical Manuals). IFF Mode 5 is a cryptographic identification system that enables military and international interrogation systems to distinguish friendly aircraft, vehicles, or forces, and to determine their bearing and range from the interrogator. As Mode 5 is deployed, newly installed transponders and interrogators require initial commissioning tests followed by routine pre-mission tests. The Aeroflex APM-424(V)5 is a lightweight flight line test set for non-commercial, pre-mission testing of IFF transponders and interrogators. It tests the latest development in secure IFF Mode 5. Levels 1 and 2 are crypto-secure with enhanced encryption, spread spectrum modulation, and time of day authentication.

Aeroflex, Wichita, KS. (316) 522-4981. [www.].

20W Power Supply Is Fully Regulated ConTech, a Division of Calex, has announced the “TMH” Series of DC/DC converters. The TMH Series offers up to 40 watts of fully regulated output power with an industry standard 2 x 1 inch footprint. The series offers a 2:1 input range with nominal input voltages of 12 VDC, 24 VDC and 48 VDC. Single outputs offered are 3.3, 5, 12 and 15 VDC. Dual outputs are +/-12 and +/-15 VDC. The TMH Series operates with efficiencies as high as 92%. Features include Remote On/Off, Output Trim and Short Circuit Protection. The operating ambient temperature range of the TMH is -40° to +55°C with no derating. The unit is encapsulated with a thermally conductive potting compound in a six-sided metal case for improved thermal performance in still air environments. The TMH series is RoHS compliant. Pricing for the TMH Series is as low as $29.65 (1,000s).

ConTech, Concord, CA. (925) 609-1193. [].

MIL-STD-1553 PMC Card Embedded DO-254 Certifiable ASIC Core Data Device Corporation (DDC) has introduced a DO-254 certifiable MIL-STD-1553 PMC card using DDC’s field proven Enhanced Mini-ACE core in an ASIC design to achieve very high reliability (MTBF). The BU-65596F/M incorporates DDC’s highly efficient Total-ACE integrated terminals to create a rugged, high-reliability MIL-STD1553 PMC card ideal for military applications with harsh environments. The DDC ASIC boasts over 62 million hours of in-service history. The card offers up to four MIL-STD1553 channels and up to 16 avionics discrete I/O links. The board is software compatible with ACE and Enhanced Mini-ACE and its format factor meets VITA 47 class V3 for rugged environments.

Data Device Corp., Bohemia, NY. (631) 567-5600. [].

Sub 1-Watt Pico-ITX SBC Targets Portable and Military Embedded Systems

Micro/sys has released a 2.5-inch Pico-ITX ARM single board computer offering powerthrough-USB and an impressive mix of video, audio, USB, memory and power features for today’s handheld applications. Featuring the cost-efficient, power-conscience Freescale Semiconductor i.MX515 ARM Cortex-A8 processor tailored for multimedia, the SBC5651 is ideally suited for use in small, low-power handheld and portable devices. The SBC5651 is engineered to satisfy the power management, space conservation and multimedia I/O demands of handheld and portable applications. Consuming less than 1W with user-programmable speeds up to 800 MHz, the SBC5651 offers performance while respecting low power operation. To enable mounting in cramped spaces, USB, Ethernet, power and SD/MMC standard ports are available on-board eliminating the need for breakout boards or unnecessary cabling. Additionally, the SBC5651 boasts LCD touch screen support (both LVDS and TFT), LED back light control, keypad interface, SD card slot, and 4 Gbyte NAND flash enabling OEMs to provide the user-friendliest handheld designs. In addition, since all components are validated for the extended temperature range from -40° to +85°C, the SBC5651 is industrial temperature capable by design. The SBC5651 starts at $395 in single quantity and mid $200s in 100-piece quantities.

Micro/sys, Montrose, CA. (818) 244-4600. [].

August 2011 COTS Journal [ 63 ]

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3U VPX Virtex-6 FPGA Processing VITA 57 Front-End GetFMC Connected with companies and products featured in this section.

VPX and FMC are two of the fastest growing new embedded computer form factors, and the military has their eye on both. Hitting both of those trends, Elma Electronic offers the TIC-FEP-VPX3b, an FPGA-based 3U VPX front-end processing board that provides an FMC site coupled to a large capacity Virtex-6 FPGA for extremely flexible I/O. Designed for digital signal processing (DSP), the versatile TIC-FEP-VPX3b is ideal for applications such as radar, sonar, electronic warfare, imaging and communications. The new board offers high performance logic, increased SerDes-based I/O, and powerful DSP slice resources that help meet higher bandwidth and performance demands, while utilizing up to 25% less power. Supported by low-power and high-speed GTX transceivers at rates up to 6.5 Gbits/s, the board enables the application of interfaces used in today’s embedded systems. Onboard PCIe Gen 1 and Gen 2 protocols, via a hard IP block and Ethernet MAC blocks, allow PCIe x4 and GbE interfaces to be implemented from the FPGA to form data and control planes respectively. Built to the VPX specifications, the TIC-FEP-VPX3b includes four 4-lane fabric ports on the P1, connected by GTX transceivers to the main FPGA. Featuring an onboard Xilinx Virtex-6 FPGA, the board comes with two banks of 40-bit 1.25 Gbyte DDR3 memory with transfer rates of 7.5 Gbits/s and a Spartan-6 control node, used to load logic images into the main FPGA. The Spartan-6 control node enables “on the fly” bitstream management for dynamic FPGA configuration. Other resources include zero bus turnaround (ZBT) SRAM with a throughput of 400 Mbyte/s for expedited read/write processing. The board comes in three environmental grades: standard, rugged and conduction-cooled. Pricing for the TIC-FEP-VPX3b depends on the choice of Xilinx FPGAs and environmental grade. The board is currently shipping.

Elma Electronic Systems, Fremont, CA. (510) 656-3400. [].

6U VPX Board Sports Two Virtex-6 FPGAs and a QorIQ CPU

PXI Semiconductor Test System for Digital and Mixed Signal Test

VPX boards represent one of the most active categories of new products designs. The latest one from Interface Concept is the 6U VPX IC-FEP-VPX6a board powered by two Xilinx Virtex-6 and one QorIQ processor. The IC-FEP-VPX6a is a VPX hybrid processing engine coupling the latest generations of FPGAs and processor, both of them providing a very high level of performance per watt. With its QorIQ processor for system management and a PCIe advanced switch to couple the processing nodes, the IC-FEP-VPX6a board expands the flexibility of the two Virtex-6 FPGAs and the VPX high-bandwidth serial interfaces. Two FMC mezzanine sites enlarge the adaptability of the board to connect ADC, DAC, general IOs, video, sFPDP or additional FPGA FMC modules.

Geotest has announced the TS900, a new PXI-based test system for component, SoC and SiP test applications. Offering up to 512, 100 MHz channels with per-pin PMUs and an integrated receiver interface, the modular TS-900 includes a full-featured set of hardware and software capabilities for digital and mixed-signal test applications. The system supports 64 to 512 dynamic digital channels as well as a range of analog, power supply and RF resources. The basic TS-900 test system includes 64, 100 MHz digital I/O channels; 64 static digital I/O channels; a programmable user power supply; a system self-test and fixture. The TS-900 is available now with the base system priced at less than $75,000.

Interface Concept, Briec de l’Odet, France. +33 (0)2 98 57 30 30. [].

Geotest, Irvine, CA. (949) 263-2222. [].

3U OpenVPX 400W Power Supply Is VITA 62 Compliant As the ecosystem of OpenVPX products expands, a wide variety of product types are rolling out—power supplies included. Dawn VME Products has announced its PSC-6234 VITA 62-compliant 6 channel 3U VPX power supply with VITA 62 power connector pin-out and full OpenVPX support. Dawn’s PSC-6234 power supply is designed for missioncritical applications to operate over a wide range of temperatures at high power levels. Plug-in or bulkhead mounted models are available for air cooled, conduction to bulkhead cooled, and conduction to wedge lock cooled applications and configurations. Its true 6 channel design provides up to 400 watts output on a 1 inch pitch and is extended shock and vibration compliant per MIL-STD-810F. Custom power capacity and voltage input range configurations are available. The PSC-6234 is current share compatible with additional PSC-6234 units. The PSC-6234 front I/O panel includes an LED status indicator, a USB port for field firmware upgrades and VBAT battery access for support of the VPX memory backup power bus. Dawn’s embedded RuSH Rugged System Health Monitor technology actively measures voltage, current and temperature on each PSC-6234 rail for intelligent monitoring and control of critical VPX power supply performance parameters.

Dawn VME Products, Fremont, CA. (510) 657-4444 []. [ 64 ] COTS Journal August 2011

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Mini-ITX Board with Dual Core VIA Nano X2 E-Series A Mini-ITX board features a Via Nano X2 E-Series dual core processor, which combines a high-performance 1.6 GHz 64-bit Via Nano X2 E-Series processor with the Via VX900 unified allGet Connected companies andVia products featured delivers in this section. in-one media systemwith processor. The EPIA-M900 a highly optimized platform that boasts comprehensive HD video performance, HD audio and HDMI support in a compact, power-efficient package. Measuring 17 cm x 17 cm, the Via EPIA-M900 Mini-ITX board features the 1.6 GHz dual core Via Nano X2 E-Series processor. The Via Nano X2 E-Series is combined with the Via VX900 MSP, supporting up to 8 Gbyte of DDR3 system memory and featuring the Via ChromotionHD 2.0 video processor. Rear panel I/O includes a Gigabit LAN port, HDMI port, VGA port, four USB 2.0 ports, one COM port and three audio jacks.

VIA Technologies, Fremont, CA. (510) 683-3300. [].

USB Data Acquisition Module Has Dual 10 MHz Simultaneous A/D Channels A high-speed simultaneous USB data acquisition module features isolated, high-speed USB data acquisition at throughput rates up to 10 MHz. With the DT9862 from Data Translation, when two A/D channels are sampled simultaneously, both channels can acquire data at 10 MHz using burst sampling or at 5 MHz continuously. The only limit on throughput is the USB 2.0 bus speed, which has been optimized for the DT9862 to over 25 Mbyte/s. Each analog input channel has its own separate A/D converter eliminating phase shift between each channel—a problem with multiplexed architectures where all inputs share one common A/D converter. As a result, the DT9862 series can correlate measurements instantly. This overall throughput improvement represents a 5x increase in speed for the industry. The previous fastest isolated USB data acquisition module is the DT9832A at 2 MHz. Key design features of the DT9862 include 10 MHz sampling per a single channel, 10 MHz for burst sampling for both channels, or 5 MHz for two channels continuously, synchronous operation of all subsystems and two true 16-bit analog inputs for measuring multiple channels simultaneously. There are two optional 16-bit deglitched D/A channels for a simultaneous output rate of up to 2 Msamples/s with an output range of ± 2.5 V. The high-speed digital I/O lines are for time stamping, pattern recognition and synchronizing external events, and there are two 32-bit counter/timers along with flexible clock and trigger modes. Three 32-bit quadrature decoders allow for X/Y positioning and rotation, and the unit comes with software and drivers compatible with Windows XP/Vista/7.

Compact COM Express Module Features Dual Core Atom A COM Express module in Compact form factor measures just 95 x 95 millimeters, and is fully compatible with the Type 2 pinout of the PICMG COM Express specification. The Express-LPC from Adlink is positioned as an entry level, cost-effective module with a high performance-per-watt ratio (MIPS, FLOPS). The Express-LPC is based on the latest Intel Atom processors ranging from the dual core D525 at 1.8 GHz to the low voltage single core N455 at 1.66 GHz. The module supports up to 4 Gbyte of DDR3 memory on two SODIMM sockets. The module is equipped with integrated graphics support for analog VGA and LVDS. The module supports five PCI Express x1 lanes via the Intel I/O Controller Hub 8 Mobile chipset (ICH8M), one Gigabit Ethernet connection and three SATA channels. Legacy support is provided by a single Parallel ATA channel, 32-bit PCI bus and Low Pin Count bus (LPC). The Express-LPC is available with an onboard IDE-based Solid State Drive (SSD) up to 8 Gbyte, and comes standard with an integrated Trusted Platform Module (TPM 1.2) to provide secure storage of encryption keys for system and data protection. Single quantity pricing starts at $249.

ADLINK San Jose, CA. (408) 360-0200. [].

Data Translation, Marlboro, MA. (508) 481-3700. [].

IP65-Rated Panel PC Family Suits Rugged Applications Four new industrial-grade Panel PCs are available with 12-, 15-, 17- or 19-inch diagonal displays and touch screens. The PPC65 family of Panel PCs from WinSystems is powered by a fully integrated 1.6 GHz Intel Atom-based single board computer (SBC). The front bezels on these Panel PCs are environmentally sealed to comply with NEMA 4/ IP65 specifications to prevent damaging moisture, dust and dirt from getting into it. WinSystems’ PPC65 family of Panel PCs has design features that allow each unit to meet and exceed industry standards for RF emissions, conducted susceptibility and shock/vibration. The SBC includes 2 Gbyte of system memory with either or both an optional customer-installed SATA drive and CompactFlash SSD. I/O support includes a Gigabit Ethernet port, four USB 2.0 and two RS-232 serial channels. The PPC65-1210S-2G-0 is a unit with a silver bezel and 12.1-inch screen with a list price of $1,395.

WinSystems, Arlington, TX. (817) 274-7553. [].

August 2011 COTS Journal [ 65 ]

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ADC/DAC XMC Sports Virtex-6 FPGAfeatured in this section. GetModule Connected with companies and products

Designed to act as a powerful link between the analog world of sensors and the digital world of computing, a new XMC module can be deployed in demanding radar, signals intelligence, communications and test and measurement applications. The ICS-1572A ADC/DAC from GE Intelligent Platforms features 16-bit data acquisition at up to 250 MHz and the latest Xilinx Virtex-6 FPGA processor to deliver unprecedented performance in a cost-effective, compact, lightweight form factor. Not only does the XMC form factor allow for more compact solutions—it also allows for higher throughput to the host memory, which translates into the ability to send higher bandwidth signals for downstream processing. The higher sampling rates allow for higher instantaneous bandwidth to be captured, therefore meeting the challenging frequency coverage requirements of surveillance systems. The use of high-speed DDR3 memory allows for deep waveform storage and tolerates the interrupt latency associated with non-real-time operating systems. The ICS-1572A provides two 16-bit ADCs sampling synchronously at frequencies up to 250 MHz and two 16-bit DACs at up to 500 MHz. The ADC input pass band is 4.5 to 800 MHz (3 dB) to allow for under-sampling applications. A Xilinx Virtex-6 LX240T FPGA is provided for user-defined signal processing functions, giving greater capacity than previous generations; other Virtex-6 devices are available as options. The Virtex-6 device also provides a PCI Express interface to the host system. Other protocols, such as Serial RapidIO, can be provided upon request. The FPGA provides a powerful signal processing capability that can be loaded with standard functions such as wideband DDC, FFT and time stamping, or programmed by the user for any required function.

GE Intelligent Platforms, Charlottesville, VA. (800) 368-2738. [].

Embedded SD Card Takes Shock, Vibration and Temperatures A new industrial SD card from Apacer is designed for embedded systems in harsh storage environments. Features include high reliability, high storage and resistance to extended temperatures. Compliant with Ver. 2.0 standard and SDHC Class 10 high-speed transmission standard as defined by the SD Association, the new SD card from Apacer also supports SD and SPI modes. By using the reliable SLC chip, it not only delivers the features of anti-shock, anti-vibration and low power consumption, but also boasts resistance to extended temperatures (-40° to 85°C). Available in capacities from 256 Mbyte to 8 Gbyte, the new SD card can substantially accelerate data transfer, due to its sequential read/write speed reaching up to 20/13 Mbyte per second. It is also worth noting that the card’s automatic standby and sleep modes help save power more effectively.

Apacer Technology, Taipei, Taiwan. [].

Ultra Low Latency, High Def Encoder Rides PCI/104 A high-performance, ultra low latency H264 Encoder is available on a single PCI/104 form factor board. The H264HD2000 from Advanced Micro Peripherals allows system builders to easily add high definition analog and digital video capture with H.264/MPEG-4 AVC (Part 10) encoding to their embedded PC equipment designs. The powerful encoding engine supports ultra low latency full frame rate encoding of two HD video sources at up to 1080p30. The H264-HD2000 accepts both analog and digital video input. Digital video is received from DVI/HDMI sources at a full range of resolutions from 480p60 up to 1080p60. High definition (HD) analog video data can be taken from YPbPR, RGsB (Sync on Green) or VGA (separate HSync, VSync). The H264-HD2000 is also available with extended temperature range options (-40° to +85°C) and a long-term availability.

Advanced Micro Peripherals, New York, NY. (212) 951-7205. [].

Virtex-5 AMC Provides an FMC Module Slot A standard single mid-size or full-size AMC module comes with the choice of a user-programmable LX50T, LX85T, or SX50T Virtex-5 FPGA. The TAMC640 from Tews Technologies provides a number of advantages including a customizable interface for unique applications and a FPGA-based design to extend product lifecycle. The integrated PCIe Endpoint Block of the Virtex 5 can be used to build an x1, x4 or x8 PCIe link via AMC Port 4-11. In addition, the implementation of other protocols like SRIO or XAUI is possible. AMC Ports 0 & 1, commonly used for Gigabit Ethernet, are also connected to the FPGA. The integrated Gigabit Ethernet MACs of the Virtex-5 allow fast and easy protocol implementation. To allow direct board-to-board communication, AMC Ports 12-17 are connected to Virtex-5 I/Os, allowing AC-coupled LVDS communication with a port speed up to 1.0 Gbit/sec. For flexible front I/O solutions, the TAMC640 provides a VITA 57.1 high pin count FMC Module slot, allowing active and passive signal conditioning. All FMC I/O lines are directly connected to the FPGA, which maintains the flexibility of the Select I/O technology of the Virtex-5 FPGA.

TEWS Technologies, Halstenbeck, Germany. +49 (0) 4101-4058-0. [].

[ 66 ] COTS Journal August 2011

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7400 MHz SMT Frequency Synthesizer Boasts Low Phase Noise The UPN-7400 from EM Research is a surface-mount

Get Connected with companies and products featured in this section. frequency synthesizer featuring exceptionally low phase noise

(-102 dBc/Hz at 10 KHz), utilizing a 100 MHz external frequency reference, offering +6 dBm output power from a +5 VDC supply drawing 200 mA current. The unit is available in a cost-effective, miniature surface-mount package of 0.90” x 0.90” x 0.15” (22.9 mm x 22.9 mm x 3.8 mm), which makes it suitable for SATCOM, radar and electronic warfare applications. The UPN Series can be custom-designed to offer fixed or serially programmable frequencies up to 10 GHz with extended temperature ranges, high vibration tolerance, up to +13 dBm output power and internal or external references.

EM Research, Reno, NV. (775) 345-2411. [].

Ethernet Board Enables High-Speed Long Distance Transfer A rugged 3U CompactPCI Serial Ethernet Interface board accommodates four fiber optic Ethernet transceiver channels (1000Base-SX) for high-speed connections over extended distances up to 1,800 feet (550 m). Connected to the backplane via a PCI Express x4 link and managed by a single IEEE 802.3x-compliant Ethernet controller, the G211F from Men Micro offers four channels to provide data transfers of up to 1,000 Mbit/s when used simultaneously. To enable highly flexible configuration, the board accommodates a wide range of small form factor package (SFP) transceivers that are quickly and easily inserted into the card cage, which hosts the optical adapter. Each interface features LEDs to indicate link status and activity. The G211F supports both full and half duplex operation depending on the choice of transceiver, such as an LC-duplex available from Men Micro, covering a broad range of rugged, embedded applications requiring high-bandwidth capacities as found in transportation, avionics and mobile medical equipment. As an alternative to the four channels, the board can be configured with two redundant channel pairs for safety-critical applications. Screened operating temperature is -40° to +85°C excluding the transceivers. With a heat sink, the board weighs less than a half pound. It can withstand shock up to 50 m/s2(30 ms) and vibration up to 1.9 m/s2(5 Hz to 150 Hz) during operation in a maximum of 95% non-condensing humidity. At 40°C, MTBF is 311,742 hours according to IEC/TR 62380 (RDF 2000). Pricing starts at $644.

MEN Micro, Ambler, PA. (215) 542-9575. [].

AdvancedMC Processor Card Serves Up Freescale QorIQ P2020 A new single-width AdvancedMC processor module, the AM4120, is the first member of a new Kontron AdvancedMC product family with the Freescale QorIQ processors. The new AdvancedMC family is targeted to cost-sensitive applications as well as powerful data plane and control plane applications. The Kontron AM4120 is equipped with the Freescale QorIQ P2020 Dual Core processor with up to 1.2 GHz and based on the Power Architecture e500. Application reliability features include the redundant universal bootloader U-Boot and persistent memory for cycle data storage. Furthermore, a dedicated Module Management Controller (MMC), which supports basic IPMI commands, is used for board management, enabling operators to monitor the status of the module in the system, simplifying system management and improving availability. The Kontron AM4120 also offers increased longevity due to Freescale’s processor availability until at least 2018, careful component selection and a Micro SDHC card socket that is not impacted by regular flash discontinuation. For flexible data exchange, the Kontron AM4120 features 4x SERDES lines routed to AMC ports 4 through 7, which are configurable either as PCIe (root complex or end point) or SRIO ports (host or agent), for applications that require close programming to the chip without extensive overhead.

Kontron Poway, CA. (888) 294-4558. [].

Solid-State Drives Leverage SATA 6 Gbit/s Technology Corsair has announced the first shipments of the Force Series GT line of solid-state drives. The new Force Series GT uses the new SandForce SF-2280 SSD Processor, with native support for SATA 6 Gbit/s (SATA 3), combined with ONFI synchronous flash memory. Force Series GT SSDs deliver outstanding read/write performance and significantly faster system response, boot times, and application load times than SATA 2 solid-state drives, with out-of-box performance of up to 85K Random Write IOPS, read speeds of up to 555 Mbytes/s, and write speeds of up to 525 Mbytes/s/s. The use of synchronous flash memory makes the Force GT Series particularly adept at reading and writing non-compressible data, such as video and music files. All Force Series GT models are also backward compatible with SATA 2, and include an easy-to-use 3.5 inch adapter for use in both notebook and desktop PCs.

Corsair Memory, Fremont, CA. (510) 657-8747. [].

August 2011 COTS Journal [ 67 ]

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1553 Boards & Display Systems Gallery.................................................... 14

JMR Electronics, Inc....................... 47......................................

Acces I/O Products, Inc..................

Kontron America.............................

Advanced Micro Devices, Inc........... 5.....................................

Lauterbach...................................... 58..........................

Aitech Defense Systems, Inc...........

Microsemi Corporation................... 33..........................

Ballard Technology.......................... 38.........................


BittWare, .................................. 50.............................. products Inc.. featured in this section.

Northwith Atlantic Industries................. 27..................................... companies mentioned in this article.

End of Article AIM-USA......................................... Mercury Computer Systems, Inc....... 25...................................... Products Get Connected with companies and

Cogent Computer Systems, Inc...... 44............................ One Stop Systems...........................

Critical I/O....................................... 15.............................

Parvus Corporation......................... 24................................

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Phoenix International....................... 4..............................

Dynatem, Inc................................... 35.............................

Pico Electronics, Inc..................... 29, Elma Bustronic................................ 16............................

Presagis........................................... 19.............................

Extreme Engineering Solutions, Inc..... 23...............................

RTD Embedded Technologies, Inc... 2, 36,

GE Intelligent Platforms, Inc.............

RTECC.............................................. 4....................................

Innovative Integration...................... 31...................

RunCore SSD..................................

ISI Nallatech, Inc.............................

Stock-Point Electronics, Inc............

ITT Manufacturing Enterprises, Inc.....

SynQor......................................... 34, 41.............................

Jayco Panels................................... 61........................

Tech Design Forum......................... 53..............

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Tracewell Systems........................... 39...................... Xembedded..................................... 46........................

COTS Journal (ISSN#1526-4653) is published monthly at 905 Calle Amanecer, Suite 250, San Clemente, CA 92673. Periodicals Class postage paid at San Clemente and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to COTS Journal, 905 Calle Amanecer, Ste. 250, San Clemente, CA 92673.

Coming Next Month Special Feature: MILCOM 2011 Issue Target Report: Next-Gen Military Comms and Networking Solutions A major portion of today’s U.S. military platforms is either directly or indirectly involved in communications or networking critical information between warfighters. The trend is toward every vehicle, every aircraft, every ship, every UAV and every soldier on the ground to be able to quickly share data, voice and even video with almost any level of the DoD’s operation. This section explores the display, computing and networking technologies that are all a part of a Net-Centric military. Tech Recon: Rugged Laptops and Panel PCs Enlist for Defense Duties There’s been a major upward trend in the military toward systems that require sophisticated graphical user interfaces. Often in the form of rugged laptops and panel PCs, this is where the warfighter gets the complex situational awareness data—maps, video, images and text—interfaced directly to military weapons platforms on networks. This section explores the technology trends and capabilities of these mission-critical products. System Development: Secure Embedded Systems and Counterfeit IC Issues Military systems that employ advanced electronics, new technologies and encrypted digital systems are always at risk of becoming perishable items. Reverse engineering exploitation of lost, captured and “misplaced” military systems threatens our national security and billions of dollars of R&D investment. This is a problem that has now moved front and center to the design process of military systems. This section explores the importance of “anti-tamper” circuitry and what military system designers need to do to keep pace with this challenging issue. Tech Focus: Rugged Stand-Alone Box Products Traditional embedded board vendors have added stand-alone rugged box-level systems to their military market offerings. These complete system boxes often support standard form factor boards inside them. The result is a complete, tested and enclosed computing solution that eliminates complex integration chores for customers. This section looks at this emerging product class and outlines the problems they solve. A product album rounds up the latest representative products in this area. [[ 68 68 ]] COTS COTS Journal Journal August 2011 2011


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Editorial Jeff Child, Editor-in-Chief

Recognition Technology Takes a Bow


hen I was in college in the mid-80s, there was no way I could have imagined the state of consumer technology in 2011. My first desktop computer had a monochrome monitor, an Intel 286 processor and 40 Mbyte drive. That was close to state of the art at the time. Full motion video, speech recognition on a handheld device was a sci-fi dream back then. But fast forward to today and that technology is not only here, but readily available. It’s tough for the defense industry—with its decades-long development cycles—to stay in synch with these rapid advances in computing and electronics technology. For its part, DARPA has gotten smart in recent years, concentrating more on leveraging those existing technologies rather than on conceiving those building blocks themselves. Exemplifying just that sort of promising technology, I recently had the opportunity to review a new app from SpeechTrans called the SpeechTrans Ultimate App. It’s available in versions for the iPad, iPhone and Android platforms. The one I reviewed was for the iPad. The app turns spoken words from one language into voice output in another by enabling text-to-text, text-to-speech, and two-way speech-to-speech communication translations in multiple languages. Two-way speech communications are enabled for English, UK English, Spanish, French, Japanese, Italian, German and Mandarin Chinese. Text-to-speech is available for the preceding languages as well as Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Polish, Dutch, Swedish and Arabic. I downloaded the app and it worked amazingly well. I tried with German first, then Italian and then Arabic in the text-to-speech mode. The app also stores and can play back previous translations, without access to an Internet connection. In this version the auto-translate feature can be turned off, allowing same language conversations. Information from other apps can also be cut and pasted into SpeechTrans, so it can be translated and read aloud to another individual. The ability to store and play back translations is a valuable feature for communicating frequently asked questions or phrases and to enable usage without an Internet connection. The Automatic Speech Recognition technology used in SpeechTrans Ultimate comes from Nuance Communications, a specialist in speech recognition and other technologies. Back in 2003, COTS Journal did an “under-the-hood” design story about a purpose-specific handheld device called a Phraselator—a small speech translation PDA-sized device designed to aid in language interpretation. About 500 prototypes of the device were reportedly provided to U.S. military forces in Opera[ 70 ] COTS Journal August 2011

tion Enduring Freedom. It worked on phrases only. Amazing to see the leap in technology from the Phraselator to SpeechTrans where full speech translation is done on a consumer device. In a similar way, SpeechTrans is an obvious technology for the military. With that in mind, the company is also currently pursuing public military contracts under the DARPA BOLT (Broad Operational Language Translation) Program. The goals of BOLT are twofold. First, there’s the need to ensure that the United States has access to reliable information that could impact national security or deployed military personnel. And second, there’s a need to be able to readily communicate with local populations of foreign countries and non-English speaking allies. BOLT is part of DARPA’s broader efforts to provide language translation in support of defense and national security requirements ranging from phrase translation to the scanning and translation of large data sets of voice, video and print. Aside from speech recognition, another key area where DARPA is investing effort is in video recognition technology. With today’s massive military ISR apparatus, there’s an enormous amount of data from video sensors that is collected in theater, and there aren’t enough analysts available or time enough to review it all. The military is well aware that the solution lies in better automated capabilities that can identify areas and activities that require human analyst attention. Two DARPA programs are positioned to help warfighters exploit a variety of sensors: DARPA’s Video and Image Retrieval program and Analysis Tool (VIRAT), and Persistent Stare Exploitation and Analysis System (PerSEAS) program. These tools can identify actions like those involved in burying an IED. Text searching and algorithms for facial and other object recognition already exist. But up until now, finding actions of interest within previously untagged, raw video has been a resource drain and such a technical challenge as to seem “impossible.” With VIRAT’s ability to identify and highlight key actions, and PerSEAS’s ability to “see” dangerous combinations of actions as activities, analysts will soon be able to concentrate on more detailed reviews and understanding of the data. VIRAT is focused on full motion video, from platforms such as Predator and Aerostats, allowing analysts to either monitor the live downlink for specific actions of interest, or search an existing archive for past occurrences. PerSEAS focuses on widearea coverage, such as data from Constant Hawk, Gorgon Stare, ARGUS-IS and other persistent sensors.

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COTS Journal  

August 2011

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