Tech Focus: XMCs and
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The Journal of Military Electronics & Computing
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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.
Embedded Processing Brings More Functionality to Small UAVs
CONTENTS December 2011
SPECIAL FEATURE SWaP Hurdles for Small UAV Controls
10 Embedded Processing Brings More Functionality to Small UAVs Jeff Child
6 Publisher’s Notebook The Transformation of MILCOM 8
The Inside Track
Annual Article Index
74 Editorial The Tech All Around Us
TECH RECON I/O Architectures in Rugged Box-Level Systems
18 Rugged Box Systems Technologies Confront I/O Challenges Jeff Child
26 Radar Systems Boost Appetite for Faster I/O and DSP Processing Shaun McQuaid and Anne E. Mascarin, Mercury Computer Systems
SYSTEM DEVELOPMENT VPX and VME Tackle Airborne I/O and Data Storage
34 VME and VPX Data Storage Solutions Face Airborne Challenges Tom Bohman, Curtiss-Wright Controls Electronic Systems
TECHNOLOGY FOCUS XMCs and Processor XMCs
48 XMCs and PrXMCs Bring Modularity into the Fabric Era Needs Jeff Child
XMC and PrXMC Roundup
Digital subscriptions available: cotsjournalonline.com
Coming in January See Page 72 On The Cover: This past summer Boeing subsidiary Insitu demoed its narrowband relay comms system aboard a ScanEagle UAV, like the one shown here. The relay helps warfighters communicate in areas where line of sight communications would not normally be possible. The Scan Eagle UAV is a small GPS-guided plane that weighs 40 lbs and has a ten-foot wingspan. It’s invisible to radar and is barely audible once within 50 ft. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt Guadalupe M. Deanda III)
The Journal of Military Electronics & Computing
Publisher PRESIDENT John Reardon, firstname.lastname@example.org PUBLISHER Pete Yeatman, email@example.com
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COTS Journal HOME OFFICE The RTC Group, 905 Calle Amanecer, Suite 250, San Clemente, CA 92673 Phone: (949) 226-2000 Fax: (949) 226-2050, www.rtcgroup.com 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.
[ 4 ] COTS Journal December 2011 Untitled-5 1
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Notebook The Transformation of MILCOM
hen I was in college we studied and designed with vacuum tubes, transistors, and learned about those new fangled things called ICs. Working for RCA’s Astro Electronics Division quickly brought those new fangled ICs to the forefront, and they became the main technology focus. It wasn’t until working on the Viking Mars Landers that I came in contact with real RF and microwave transmission. For the most part that was through interaction with RCA’s Moorstown Division, which focused on that technology. Watching those RF engineers work made me realize how much black art is involved in any RF work. The slightest mechanical change within the Viking’s transceivers produced or injected problems and skewed outputs. These magicians not only had to hand select many components but also move and adjust them with tweezers. Made me glad I only had to worry about the digital world of ones and zeros. The MILCOM conference started in 1981 as a venue to exchange information on the military’s communication needs. In those days many systems still had vacuum tubes with large cases, antennas and transport vehicles. As electronics evolved so did MILCOM. But up until the conference’s silver anniversary in 2006 in DC, it had very little digital focus. The emphasis had mostly been all on RF and microwave. In 2006 it started to become evident that digitizing and moving all aspects of communication as close as possible to the antenna was the optimal situation. Communications started digitizing decades before 2006—even in the military. But the aspects of that effort in the military were minimal with respect to the focus of the conference. In 2005 Jeff Child, Editor-in-Chief, attended MILCOM in Atlantic City, New Jersey and reported that there were maybe two or three digital electronic suppliers at the conference. Returning from the DC show the following year, Jeff reported that there were roughly ten digital suppliers. This year’s MILCOM in Baltimore, with 6002 participants, had the best showing ever for embedded electronics suppliers. Of the 291 exhibitors this year, almost 25 percent were embedded electronics suppliers, and roughly another 20 percent were indirect suppliers of racks, chassis, cables and so on. Of the remaining 55 percent, many were military organizations along with a large number of companies that support the embedded market: engineering and manufacturing services, and IT providers. MILCOM provides attendees and suppliers a venue to meet and communicate with a good mix of suppliers, integrators and end-users. For the last three years COTS Journal has had to increase its staff and presence at MILCOM and will again increase it at next year’s conference. The RTC Group team is exploring ways to utilize our company’s conference expertise as well as COTS Journal’s reputation as the technology resource for the military electronics market, to expand the presence of key electronics organizations at MILCOM. More as this develops. [ 6 ] COTS Journal December 2011
COTS Journal’s annual MILCOM breakfast in Baltimore last month. From left to right around the table: Tom Roberts, Mercury Computer Systems; Steve Edwards, Curtiss-Wright; Al DiLbero, GE Intelligent Platforms; Asif Anwar, Strategy Analytics; Jeff Child, COTS Journal; Jim Oberlin, Jane’s DS Defense (IHS); Arun Iyengar, Altera; Virgil Labrador, Satellite Markets and Research and Pete Yeatman (back facing camera). COTS Journal once again held its annual analysts breakfast at MILCOM to get a better vision of where our industry is going. The breakfast enables analysts, users, suppliers and our team to have an open “off the record” discussion about our industry. This year we added Satellite Markets & Research to our analyst team. The focus of this year’s discussion was the uncertainty of what the military will need and be able to fund. No one at this meeting was in a position to make any clear predictions. Everyone concurred that at all levels of the procurement chain, everyone needs to concentrate on where to place their resources. From the military down through the supply chain the focus is “firm fixed contracts.” And with any new proposals everybody has to have some “skin in the game,” meaning everyone will have to make an investment to be included. When it came to discussing the delivery forecast for 2012 there were no volunteers. COTS Journal proffered that based on discussions outside this breakfast and past history, that the embedded electronics community’s deliveries for 2012 will be flat. With all the uncertainty regarding RDT&E funding and the unpredictability of the quantities for the new military programs, we can only rely on existing programs, execution of options and tech insertions to make a prediction. Although no one jumped up to position themselves in concurrence with this forecast for 2012, there was a general agreement. MILCOM clearly has become the military electronics market’s key conference. Pete Yeatman, Publisher COTS Journal
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Inside Track Lockheed Martin Team Demos AMF JTRS Tactical Data Sharing in Army Exercise A Lockheed Martin team recently demonstrated how software defined radios can extend the Army’s tactical network by connecting disparate ground troops with the Airborne and Maritime/Fixed Station Joint Tactical Radio System (AMF JTRS). During a recent Army exercise, AMF JTRS demonstrated the system’s range and capability by successfully relaying a combination of voice, data and imagery from a test bed AH-64 Block III Apache helicopter (Figure 1) to ground forces over the Internet-Protocolenabled Soldier Radio Waveform (SRW). AMF JTRS is a software defined radio that is capable of providing Internet-like connectivity, providing a secure infrastructure for joint forces to send data, imagery, voice and video. During the exercise, a preengineering development model AMF JTRS Small Airborne radio in the Apache allowed pilots to communicate directly with six disparate ground elements using JTRS Handheld Manpack Small Form Fit (HMS) Rifleman Radios. The Apache first provided an aerial network extension for groundbased communications between troops who were separated by mountainous terrain and long distances. Using AMF JTRS, the Apache provided an automatic relay without having to deviate from its assigned mission of providing close air support for ground forces. Lockheed Martin’s AMF JTRS team includes General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and BAE Systems.
An AH-64D Apache Block III and an AH-6U Unmanned Little Bird (ULB) are shown flying over the Arizona desert near the Boeing rotorcraft facility in Mesa, AZ.
Lockheed Martin Bethesda, MD. (301) 897-6000. [www.lockheedmartin.com].
ViaSat Demonstrates 8 Mbit/s Airborne Satcom Using 12-inch Antenna ViaSat conducted a major public demonstration for members of the U.S. armed services during which it unveiled the industry’s highest performance mobile broadband system using an ultra-small aperture 12-inch Ka-band tracking antenna. Representatives from the Air Force, Army, Marines and Special Forces communities witnessed multiple applications including full-motion HD video running concurrently over a secure, encrypted mobile satellite network. The network included
[ 8 ] COTS Journal December 2011
the ViaSat VR-12 Ka airborne satellite antenna and ArcLight 2 modem mounted to a mobile vehicle. As the mobile vehicle drove around the Carlsbad area, the tracking antenna maintained its link with the satellite while demonstrating simultaneous encrypted HD video backhaul, video conferencing, IP phone communications and http web browsing. ViaSat Carlsbad, CA. (760) 476-2200. [www.viasat.com].
Lockheed Martin Selects Curtiss Wright Storage Gear for C-130J Program Curtiss-Wright Controls has received a contract from Lockheed Martin Aeronautics to provide Vortex Compact Network Storage (CNS) subsystems to the C-130J Program. The CNS will be deployed as the Network File Server in the U.S. Air Force Air Combat Command’s MC130J special mission aircraft and the Air Force Special Operations Command HC-130J personnel recovery aircraft. The initial order is valued at $800,000, with a potential lifetime contract value estimated at $7.5 million.
The MC-130J Super Hercules is an extended range transport aircraft designed for special missions such as search and rescue (SAR) and combat search and rescue (CSAR). Curtiss-Wright’s Vortex CNS is a rugged, conductioncooled, high-performance network attached storage device
that enables critical data to be shared over the aircraft’s internal network. The Vortex CNS supports industry-standard network protocols including CIFS, NFS, HTTP, FTP and PXE. It is designed to optimize file sharing in military platforms deployed in harsh environments. Data is stored securely on solid-state memory and encrypted with the AES-256 algorithm. Curtiss-Wright Controls Charlotte, NC. (704) 869-4600. [www.cwcontrols.com].
Orbit Tapped to Service Comms Systems on Navy EA-6B Prowlers The U.S. Navy has awarded Orbit Communication Systems, Inc. (USA), a subsidiary of Orbit Technologies, a maintenance contract for Communication Management Systems (CMS) purchased from Orbit between 2003 and 2010. Orbit’s fully digital Audio Intercommunication System (AIS) modules have been installed on the Navy’s EA-6B Prowler electronic warfare aircraft since 2003. Supporting up
Orbit’s digital Audio Intercommunication System (AIS) modules have been installed on the Navy’s EA-6B Prowler electronic warfare aircraft since 2003.
to 6 users, 8 radios, 8 receivers, 8 warnings and 16 discrete, the AIS is a secure communication system, integrating the routing and distribution of audio and data between the crewmembers and the recording systems. Based on a modular architecture, the AIS provides all operators on the aircraft with flexibility to control and distribute data. The maintenance contract covers repair and support of AIS equipment until the end of 2012. Orbit Communication Systems Deerfield Beach, FL. (954) 742-3831. [www.orbit-cs.com].
Northrop Grumman Releases Top Suppliers List for 2011 Northrop Grumman Corporation’s Information Systems sector honored 27 of its top suppliers for their outstanding performance during its 2011 Supplier Excellence Awards Ceremony. According to Northrop Grumman and its government and commercial customers, they meet the highest criteria for schedule, management performance and responsiveness, technical performance, financial performance and mission assurance. The 2011 Supplier Excellence Award Recipients include: ActivIdentity, Adwaiy Tech, Agilet Solutions, Ltd., Applied Engineering Management, Change Architect, CyberCore Technologies, EpiQ, Global Science & Technology, Harris RF Communications, Integreon, Intergraph Services, Juno Technologies, National Government Services, NetIQ and Novell, Orion Air Group, PKMM, Poole & Associates, QTEC, Qual-
Pro, Rajant, Solidyn Solutions, Thermo Bond Buildings, The St. John Group, TL Machine, Unlimited Innovations, Verify, and Wyle CAS Group. Complete list with locations at http://goo. gl/lV1DB. Northrop Grumman Los Angeles, CA. (310) 553-6262. [www.northropgrumman.com] Qual-Pro Gardena, CA. (310) 329-7535. [www.qual-pro.com].
GE and Juniper Networks Team to Make Network Systems for Mil Vehicles GE Intelligent Platforms and Juniper Networks announced at MILCOM 2011 that the two companies will work together to develop a family of rugged, highly secure routing and network security appliances designed for military/ aerospace deployment in harsh environments where security of data is paramount. The resulting solutions will be sold by GE Intelligent Platforms. The new GE products respond to the adoption by military forces around the world of a network-centric approach to battlefield operations and systems design. This results in a requirement for purpose-built rugged routers with advanced security capabilities since commercially available routers are not designed for the harsh environment encountered in combat situations. The RTR8GE is the first product to be announced. A battle-ready, rugged and security-focused network router, it
The RTR8GE has eight Gigabit Ethernet ports integrated in a SWaP-optimized enclosure that meets the demanding environmental requirements of military/aerospace applications. features the comprehensive fieldtested Junos operating system from Juniper Networks. Juniper Networks Junos operating system offers a comprehensive list of dynamic, robust features that provide intrusion prevention and detection, firewalls, packet inspection, authentication and access control.Its firewall, intrusion prevention and detection, and extensive quality of service capabilities enable secure IPv4/ IPv6 connectivity for military vehicles, aircraft and forward operating bases supporting netcentric operations. GE Intelligent Platforms Charlottesville, VA. (800) 368-2738. [www.ge-ip.com].
December 2011 COTS Journal [ 9 ]
Special Feature SWaP Hurdles for Small UAV Controls
[ 10 ] COTS Journal December 2011
Embedded Processing Brings More Functionality to Small UAVs Thanks to more powerful computing and communications payloads, small UAVs are gaining advanced ways to capture, share and transmit reconnaissance data to warfighters and to each other. Jeff Child, Editor-in-Chief
he electronics aboard Small UAVs—for flight control, mission control and communications— face some of the most rigorous size, weight and power restrictions. Selecting the right embedded electronics and embedded computers in those systems becomes a make or break decision. The “Small” category UAVs includes those under 1,320 pounds and range from Line of Sight control UAVs up to those that fall under the “light sport aircraft” standards. By and large, Small UAVs and their payloads have not made use of standard form factor boards. While form factors like PC/104, COM Express and others are often used in the development phase, it’s rare that many get deployed in the end product. But as Small UAV system developers seek to outfit UAVs with more mission autonomy and more powerful sensors, that’s starting to change. In some cases even complete compact box-level subsystems—often designed for a special payload function—are being considered for Small UAVs as box-level systems with small size/weight footprints emerge.
UAVs for Tactical Surveillance Among the most widely used technical UAVs are the RQ-7 Shadow and RQ-
11 Raven. These platforms are deployable with ground forces that provide tactical Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR). The Shadow is designed to provide the tactical maneuver commander near-real-time reconnaissance, surveillance, target acquisition and force protection during day/night and limited adverse weather conditions. The Raven meanwhile is an “over the hill” rucksack-portable, day/night, limited adverse weather, remotely operated, multi-sensor system in support of combat battalions and below as well as selected combat support units. At the Association of the U.S. Army (AUSA) 2011 show in D.C. in October, AAI UAS—manufacturer of the Shadow UAV— introduced the Shadow M2 Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System (TUAS) (Figure 1). With a wingspan of 25 feet, the Shadow M2 aircraft offers greater endurance for longer mission capacity, as well as execution of new mission profiles. The Shadow M2’s modular design and common avionics systems architecture enables rapid reconfiguration for combined mission capabilities, including: synthetic aperture radar (SAR) with ground and dismount moving target indicators (GMTI/DMTI); wide-area surveillance; signals intelligence; electronic warfare; Triclops, December 2011 COTS Journal [ 11 ]
The next-gen version of the Shadow UAV, the Shadow M2 provides a modular design and common avionics systems architecture, which enables rapid reconfiguration for combined mission capabilities, including: synthetic aperture radar (SAR) with ground and dismount moving target indicators (GMTI/DMTI); wide-area surveillance; signals intelligence; electronic warfare and more.
At MILCOM 2011, Jeff Child, COTS Journal Editor-in-Chief, is briefed on Boeing’s narrowband communications relay. The relay turns a small UAV into a communications repeater extending force communications by more than 160 nautical miles.
[ 12 ] COTS Journal December 2011
the U.S. Army’s multi-sensor payload system; satellite communications; communications relay systems; and enhanced electro-optical/ infrared sensors with features such as SAR/ GMTI, short-wave infrared and high-definition capabilities. While it’s too soon to know how DoD budget cuts will affect what happens next year, the planned 2012 budget request procures multiple variations of quantities for the small unmanned Raven-class aircraft, system hardware, contractor logistics support, and new training equipment for Tactical Common Data Link (TCDL). Additionally, air vehicle modifications and equipment to support Shadow Common Configuration; 16 Laser Designator payload retrofit kits; and 400 one system remote video terminals (OSRVTs) are included. In October, AAI Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) along with Phoenix Global Support introduced new multi-mission payloads for its workhorse Shadow Tactical UAS. Designed to be housed in a modular pod and carried on the hard points on the Shadow aircraft’s wings, multi-mission
payloads are exchanged easily based on the unique requirements of the supported mission. Some of the early multi-mission payload applications address urgent warfighter requirements including secure, thirdgeneration, or 3G, telecommunications uplink and downlink; signals intelligence, or SIGINT; measurement and signatures intelligence, or MASINT; state-of-the-art communications; precision geolocation; airborne cellular network; software-defined communications relay; and chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear detection.
UAV Tested in MUSIC Exercise Demonstrating the move toward more sophisticated and coordinated use of Small UAVs, in September the U.S. Army’s 2011 Manned Unmanned System Integration Capability (MUSIC) exercise showcased “innovation, integration and interoperability” across the Army’s manned and unmanned assets through handoff and command and control sequences between multiple ground control systems. Small UAVs played a central role in the exercise. The AAI UAS Universal Ground Control Station (UGCS) provided command and control of AAI’s Shadow Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System (TUAS), as well as General Atomics’ Gray Eagle and Northrop Grumman’s Hunter UAS. In a first for UAS history, a single UGCS seamlessly handed off control of each UAS from one ground control station to another, demonstrating for the first time revolutionary improvements in battlefield communication and information sharing. The UGCS is NATO Standardization Agreement 4586 compliant and incorporates an all-digital Tactical Common Data Link (TCDL) for data transmission, increased bandwidth and data security. During the MUSIC operation, the UAS One System Remote Video Terminal (OSRVT)—also built by AAI—enhanced with bi-directional capability was utilized during several scenarios, demonstrating how dismounted troops can view and control live, full-motion video and receive position information from Army UAS including the Shadow TUAS, Gray Eagle, Hunter and AeroVironment’s Raven and Puma unmanned aircraft. An enabling technology for achieving new levels of communications between Small UAVs are relay systems. In an example
The Puma AE (All Environment) is a Small UAV designed for land-based and maritime operations. Capable of landing in the water or on land, the Puma AE is quiet to avoid detection and operates autonomously, providing persistent intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and targeting data (ISRT). along those lines, Boeing and its subsidiary Insitu this summer demonstrated a highperformance Narrowband Relay communications (Figure 2) system aboard a ScanEagle unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). The relay was designed to meet the needs of small distributed forces operating in areas where Line of Sight (LOS) communications would not normally be possible. In the past, the DoD has widely deployed handheld narrowband radios as the primary method of communications among small, distrib-
uted forces. Such radios are limited in range and cannot communicate where the radios do not have a direct path to one another. The Boeing-developed Narrowband Relay, deployed aboard a Small UAV, provides a dramatically longer range and LOS capability over hills and buildings.
Narrowband Relay Solution The Boeing narrowband communications relay was later tested aboard two unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV)—an Insitu December 2011 COTS Journal [ 13 ]
ScanEagle and a portable AeroVironment Puma All Environment (AE) (Figure 3). During the multiservice demonstrations held in California, the UAVs flew at a variety of altitudes while linking handheld military radios dispersed over mountainous regions. The tests confirmed the relayâ€™s performance and versatility. Using the two UAV platforms extended the radiosâ€™ range tenfold. The relay meets the weight, space and power limitations of Small UAVs, and can be operated in environments where electromagnetic interference may be an issue. The relay is currently fielded in theater and undergoing additional demonstrations.
STUAS Integrator Passes Review
The Insitu STUAS Integrator UAV completed its first Operational Assessment (OA-1) earlier this year. During OA-1, the STUAS Integrator system flew mission scenarios designed to assess operational suitability of the current Integrator UAS.
[ 14Untitled-7 ] COTS1Journal December 2011
Development of new Small UAV platforms continues. Last year Insitu was awarded the STUAS Tier II contract from Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) for its Integrator unmanned aircraft system (UAS). Since then the Integrator has passed some key milestones. In April, Insitu Inc. announced that the STUAS Integrator (Figure 4) completed its first
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Operational Assessment (OA-1), a critical milestone in the STUAS program execution. During OA-1, the STUAS Integrator system flew mission scenarios designed to assess operational suitability of the current Integrator UAS. Before that, the Integrator program went through an in-depth threeday system requirements review by the U.S. Navy in February. The review provided a solid reference point for program execution. It established system requirements
and determined how those requirements would be validated and tested. On the research side, this fall the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center (CERDEC) took delivery of AAI’s Aerosonde Mark 4.7 Small Unmanned Aircraft System and an Orbiter Miniature Unmanned Aircraft System. The systems will support the five-year cooperative research and development agreement
(CRADA) into which the organizations recently entered, enabling AAI UAS and CERDEC to work together on various payloads for three classes of UA —tactical, small and miniature, also known as Groups 3, 2 and 1.
More Payload Modularity AAI UAS and CERDEC’s Flight Activity, Lakehurst, N.J., completed a technical interchange meeting to review plans for payload integration onto the Aerosonde (Group 2) and Orbiter (Group 1) systems. Many payload varieties are being considered for integration, including signals intelligence, sensor and communications. AAI’s UAS flight crews conducted Aerosonde and Orbiter aircraft check flights prior to their delivery at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey. Upon CERDEC Flight Activity’s successful payload integration onto either aircraft, AAI UAS operators will take the lead on a capability demonstration flight. To date, AAI UAS already has integrated more than two dozen payloads onto the Aerosonde UAS, including scientific, meteorological, electronic warfare, signals intelligence, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. The Aerosonde Mark 4.7 is an expeditionary system featuring a large payload capacity and modular design. It is ideally suited to accommodate a multitude of payload options. The Orbiter Miniature Unmanned Aircraft System uses electric power to deliver a minimal acoustic signature. AeroVironment Monrovia, CA. (626) 357-9983. [www.avinc.com]. AAI Hunt Valley, MD. (410) 666-1400. [www.aaicorp.com]. Insitu. Bingen, WA. (509) 493-8600. [www.insitu.com].
[ 16Untitled-4 ] COTS1Journal December 2011
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A Sensor Interface and Processing Company
I/O Architectures in Rugged Box-Level Systems
Rugged Box System Technologies Confront I/O Challenges As a new wave of small form factor rugged box systems emerges, military system developers face a new set of choices when it comes to function-specific versus general purpose solutions.
Jeff Child Editor-in-Chief
tand-alone rugged box-level systems have become a fixture in the military market. These complete system boxes often support standard form factor boards inside them. The problem is there’s no standard scheme for I/O configurations. New VITA standards are attempting to rectify this, but progress toward agreement on those configurations remains slow. As a new wave of smaller form factor rugged box systems emerges, the I/O connectors themselves are soon becoming the limiting factor to the systems size. Meanwhile, these complete systems are often challenging traditional military slot-card system architectures. Add to that the tradeoffs between function-special and general purpose boxsystems, and the landscape for this key area of military technology seems more confusing than ever. While slot-card-based systems using cPCI and VME remain a strong thriving approach in the defense industry, a key decision facing today’s military system developer is that of caged cards versus an off-the-shelf box-level computer. The traditional approach is to use slot-card boards in a card cage. This means choosing a bus architecture, a rugged card
[ 18 ] COTS Journal December 2011
cage and an SBC, plus any additional I/O boards to fulfill the requirements. More recently, for applications where size, weight and power have priority over past compatibility with legacy boards, the option of rugged box-level systems that are basically monolithic integrated computers is popular. Space-constrained systems such as UAV payloads, helicopter computing systems (Figure 1) and ground vehicle electronics are examples of where small form factor box systems are particularly attractive.
Function Specific vs. General Purpose The latest wave of rugged box systems includes many that are function-specific, whereas others are more generic computing/networking platforms. The emergence of the function-specific type of system doesn’t mean that the more general-purpose approach is going away. Most vendors that offer function-specific offerings also continue to develop a robust set of general-purpose pre-integrated systems. Driving the function-specific system demand is the trend among prime contractors toward an ever greater reliance on embedded computing suppliers. They’re asking for integration expertise and a level of software development as part of those integration efforts, and more I/O
configuration tailored to the application need or a category of applications. In an example along those lines, Curtiss-Wright Controls Electronic Systems (CWCES) provides the Versatile Flight Control Computer (VFCC) (Figure 2), a high-performance, low-power conduction-cooled embedded processing system optimized for size, weight, power and cost (SWaP-C) in deployed airborne commercial and military applications. The rugged dual processor clusters make the VFCC ideal for rotorcraft, manned and unmanned aircraft environments. The VFCC is suited for applications including flight controls, vibration management, engine controls, mission computing, actuator control and so on. The VFCC provides dual 600 MHz ARM Cortex-A8 processor clusters, dual TMS320C64x+ DSP processors, and three Xilinx Spartan 6 FPGAs with 1 Gbyte of data to non-volatile memory. The fully enclosed unit supports a wide range of configurable off-the-shelf I/O interfaces including ARINC 825, RS-422/485, USB 2.0, ARINC 429 receive, ARINC 429 transmit, analog inputs with excitation outputs, synchronization discretes, discrete inputs/outputs, dedicated solenoid drivers and 10mA servo valve drivers. The system also includes system-level built-in-test (BIT). The unit has a DO-
Platforms like the U.S. Marine Corps CH-53K heavy lift helicopter are particularly suited for small form factor box-level computing systems. The CH-53K is designed to transport heavy payloads over longer distances than its CH-53E predecessor. tion runs under 21 watts. Shock mounts are available for high shock and/or vibration environments
Enclosed SBC Approach
The Versatile Flight Control Computer (VFCC) provides dual 600 MHz ARM Cortex-A8 processor clusters, dual TMS320C64x+ DSP processors, and three Xilinx Spartan 6 FPGAs with 1 Gbyte of data to non-volatile memory.
178B Level A certifiable RTOS and DO254 Level A certifiable FPGAs. Its size is 11.5 x 9.3 x 2.1 inches with a weight less than 4.4 pounds. Operating temperature range is -40° to +71°C, natural convection-cooled. Input power is 28 VDC with 50 millisecond holdup and power dissipa[ 20 ] COTS Journal December 2011
Another example of function-specific small form factor box technology takes box-level computing down to basically a single enclosure board-level system. GE Intelligent Platforms announced the IPS511 Rugged Situational Awareness Processor (Figure 3), which is designed to provide ground vehicles, aircraft, remote unmanned platforms, and security and surveillance systems previously unattainable levels of 360° situational awareness. It is a single board solution housed in a rugged chassis and is characterized by its small size, weight and power (SWaP) attributes, enabling it to be deployed as a simple, cost-effective upgrade to virtually any platform operating in a demanding environment. The IPS511 seamlessly merges video signals from multiple sensors into a realtime interactive 360° panoramic image that can be displayed on one or more monitors, saving space and power and
providing a significant contribution to keeping personnel safe. Available as an off-the-shelf, ready-to-go solution that is also highly flexible, it extends the broad range of video processing subsystems from GE that respond to the growing military requirement for advanced visualization tools. The IPS511 can process up to 12 video signals selected from up to 16 analog video inputs, and supports two independent operator displays allowing each operator to adjust the direction of view and magnification within the panorama using a touch screen or other interface device.
Modularity at the Small Box Level Even at the ultra-small box level, there’s often a desire to allow modularity inside the box. Extreme Engineering accomplishes that in its XPand6000 (Figure 4), a rugged ATR system measuring just 4.88 in. x 1.9 in. x 7.7 in. A fully loaded XPand6000 utilizes three types of industry-standard commercialoff-the-shelf (COTS) components: rugged COM Express modules, PMC/XMC modules and solid-state storage. With
Tech Recon Figure 3
The IPS511 Rugged Situational Awareness Processor is a single board solution housed in a rugged chassis. It seamlessly merges video signals from multiple sensors into a real-time interactive 360Â° panoramic image that can be displayed on one or more monitors.
COTS components, the XPand6000 can be deployed quickly into airborne or ground vehicles. Its natural convection-cooling and small size allow the XPand6000 to be bolted to any available surface; and with a fully loaded weight of less than 4.5 lbs., it is perfect for small UAV ATR applications. Virtually any conduction-cooled PMC or XMC can be integrated into the
ENGINEERING DESIGN AND MANUFACTURING SERVICES Founded in 1994 to provide complete systems engineering to the electronics industry.
XPand6000, which also supports an optional 1.8-in. or Slim SATA Solid-State Disk (SSD) for applications requiring ruggedized, non-volatile storage. Initially, the XPand6000 will support COM Express modules based on the Intel Core i7 and Atom processors, with Freescale QorIQ support to follow. To meet a wide variety of application needs, the XPand6000 is available in three configurations: a horizontal ori-
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entation with natural convection-cooling, a horizontal orientation with conductioncooling, and a vertical orientation with natural convection-cooling. Using the COM Express form factor for the CPU card allows for modules from third-party vendors. Most importantly, it provides a thermally superior solution because the CPU is located on the opposite side of the module connectors, allowing for direct contact between the CPU’s die and the
system’s external cooling interface. The PMC/XMC form factor was chosen for the plug-in I/O card because of the wide ecosystem of PMC/XMC I/O modules available from a number of vendors. One approach to small form factor box systems is to be a little more general than application specific and instead focus on particular computing functions like graphics and video. Graphics and video display/capture have become criti-
The XPand6000 is a rugged ATR system measuring 4.88 in. x 1.9 in. x 7.7 in. Virtually any conduction-cooled PMC or XMC can be integrated into the system. It also supports an optional 1.8-in. or Slim SATA Solid-State Disk (SSD). cal technologies in many of today’s advanced programs. Serving such needs, Quantum3D has announced two new additions to its award-winning Thermite family of embedded computers, the Thermite XVG 4000 and Thermite TL 2000. The new Thermite XVG 4000 offers stateof the art processing and performance, and the Thermite TL 2000 breaks mobility and power efficiency barriers to meet the computing and operation needs of demanding military and aerospace environments. The Thermite XVG 4000 offers advanced graphics and processing technology for applications ranging from real-time sensor signal processing to situational awareness. The Thermite XVG 4000 is the most powerful fan-less, graphics-based, rugged computer available, and features a modular design that allows the system to be optimized to meet specific project requirements, including tailoring of the CPU, GPU, video processing, networking, I/O and storage features, using commercial-off-the-shelf modules. Its processor is an Intel Core i7-610E 2.53 GHz with Turbo Boost to 3.2 GHz (Dual Core) and other CPU options, with up to 8 Gbytes of system memory. Graphics in[ 22Untitled-5 ] COTS1Journal December 2011
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clude a CUDA-capable NVIDIA FX880M for mid-range workstation performance, or NVIDIA FX2800M for high-end performance. The Thermite TL 2000 offers lower power consumption for a range of markets, including man-wearable applications, robotics, real-time signal processing applications like GPS and radar, as well as embedded sensor signal processing applications such as LIDAR/LADAR.
New Options for System Developers The trend toward small form factor box systems has spawned a number of new product line initiatives from companies that traditionally focused on either the SBC or large slot-card system segment of the military market. Themis Computer, for its part, earlier this year added two approaches to its offerings: the NanoPAK and the NanoATR. NanoPAK
VITA-74 SMALL FORM FACTOR COMPUTING MIS SSION AND D PAYLOAD ACCOMPLISHED 5IFTNBMM MJHIUGPPUQSJOUBOEQPXFSGVMQFSGPSNBODFPGUIF7*5"/BOP"53TZTUFN NBLFJUJEFBMGPSSVHHFEDPNNFSDJBMBOENJMJUBSZรถFMEBQQMJDBUJPOT
is a compact, mobile stand-alone rugged computer targeted for OEMs and application providers who develop embedded computing applications for demanding environments. The first NanoPAK system integrates the Intel Atom processor and flash storage in a small, light footprint that optimizes size, weight and power. Leveraging Themis thermal and kinetic management expertise, the hardened aluminum NanoPAK enclosure is designed to withstand the toughest conditions. The NanoPak also provides an MIL-STD-1553 communications option for avionic applications. The NanoATR Small Form Factor Computer System meanwhile is a system with a fully sealed, conduction-cooled chassis with two 19 mm and two 12.5 mm payload slots, a storage slot, and a dedicated connector panel-PSU slot in a small, light footprint that optimizes size, weight, power and cooling. The front panel can be equipped with either circular MIL or standard rectangular connectors. Curtiss-Wright Controls Electronic Systems Santa Clarita, CA. (661) 257-4430. [www.cwcelectronicsystems.com].
VITA-74 Nano ATR
GE Intelligent Platforms Charlottesville, VA. (800) 368-2738. [www.ge-ip.com].
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[ 24Untitled-2 ] COTS1Journal December 2011
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Extreme Engineering Solutions Middleton, WI. (608) 833-1155. [www.xes-inc.com]. Themis Computer Fremont, CA. (510) 252-0870. [www.themis.com]. Quantum3D San Jose, CA. (408) 361-9999. [www.quantum3d.com].
the moment you deliver innovation
AMD is ushering in a new era of embedded computing. The AMD Embedded G-Series processor is the ZRUOG¶V¿UVWLQWHJUDWHGFLUFXLWWRFRPELQHDORZSRZHU&38DQGGLVFUHWHOHYHO*38LQWRDVLQJOHHPEHGGHG $FFHOHUDWHG3URFHVVLQJ8QLW$38
Learn more about new levels of performance in a compact BGA package at: www.amd.com/embedded © 2011 Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. All rights reserved. AMD, the AMD Arrow logo, ATI, the ATI logo and combinations thereof are trademarks of Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. Other names are for informational purposes only and may be trademarks of their respective owners. Features, performance and specifications may vary by operating environment and are subject to change without notice. Products may not be exactly as shown. PID# 50599C
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I/O Architectures in Rugged Box-Level Systems
Radar Systems Boost Appetite for Faster I/O and DSP Processing The requirements of today’s military ground-based radar systems drive a huge demand for complex, high-throughput I/O and advanced signal processing. Intelbased processing technologies and clever fabric schemes smooth the way.
Shaun McQuaid, Sr. Product Manager Anne E. Mascarin, Product Marketing Manager Mercury Computer Systems
optimized to “do more with less.” Consider a ground-based radar system as an example. In current conflicts, the number of missile attacks worldwide has escalated into the tens of thousands. Radar offers superior sensor support for missile defense, because it can calculate target range with precision. However, modern ground-based missile defense systems are challenged by enemy targets that are smaller, faster, and have longer range (Figure 1).
oday’s intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) subsystems are required to do more, faster, while ISR application developers are challenged to design sophisticated systems that can operate in highly constrained environd ments. With the advent of the AVX instruction set extensions, second-generation PCI Express and new cores, the Intel Second Generation Core i7 Processor and the anticipated next-generation Intel Demanding Radar Requirements Xeon server-class Functional demands have also innies providing solutions now processor (due in spring 2012) bring new capabilities toto research creased. The target scan area is now ion into products, technologies and processing companies. Whether your goal is the latest tion Engineer,signal or jumpand to a company's technical page, the goal of Get Connected is to Phased-array put you image processing applications. very wide. radars now are you require for whatever type of technology, There are a number of technical design required to manage multiple missions, and products you are searching for. challenges in the current defense climate simultaneously carrying out search, tarwww.cotsjournalonline.com/getconnected that make it difficult to create a superior get detection and discrimination, trackIntel-based solution with the right level ing and identification, missile-tracking of performance within constrained envi- guidance and electronic countermeasure ronments. (ECCM) functions. And, of course, the Although defense acquisition reform mobile ground-radar systems must be is a fairly new concept, it underlines what highly rugged in terms of thermal, shock ISR application developers have known and vibration tolerance, and optimized all along—in order to be competitive, for platform size, weight and power and cost-effective, ISR subsystems must (SWaP). A successful ground-based radar implementation must offer very high Get Connected performance in terms of Gflops because with companies mentioned in this article. the simultaneous tasks mentioned above www.cotsjournalonline.com/getconnected
End of Article
[ 26 ] COTS Journal December 2011
require both a very high rate of data exchange and high-speed processing. Strong thermal management in terms of cooling must be employed both because the copious amount of processing generates significant heat, and because of the ambient environment—the missile launcher is frequently located in close proximity to the radar processing unit, on battlefields around the world. The ground radar system is inherently mobile, implying limited resources for power, which in turn, implies limited size and weight. A ground-radar subsystem based on the new multicore Sandy Bridge Intel processors is clearly an advantageous choice for several reasons. Several features in the Sandy Bridge processor architecture work together to provide the system resources required for mobile ground radar systems.
Multicore Advantages New multicore mobile class processors from Intel deliver huge increases in processing power without a large increase in the power dissipated. For example, going from 2-core first generation Core i7 to 4-core Second Generation Core i7 devices causes a minimal increase in power, while performance increases disproportionately—processor power increases from
35W to 45W (a 1.28X increase) while peak Gflops increases from 40W to 134Wâ€”a 3.34X increase. This large increase in performance per processor is sorely needed for the high rate of data exchange and allto-all processing implicit in the simultaneously required tasks of ground-based radar processing. A similar doubling of cores occurs in the Xeon server-class processor family as wellâ€”going from four cores in the Nehalem-class Xeon to eight cores in the Sandy Bridge-class Xeon. Depending on system configuration, mobile-class, server-class, or a combination of the two may be best suited to meet the challenging system requirements in a ground-based radar platform. Another feature of the server-class
processors is the AVX (advanced vector extension) instruction set extensions, which further enhance processor performance. AVX is an extension to the x86 SSE SIMD instruction set architecture. With AVX, vector width has grown from 128 to 256 bits, accelerating peak floating point operations per second by up to 2X in some cases. AVX also provides a nondestructive syntax for three and four operand instructions, maintaining better register use and performing fewer register copies. In terms of ISR applications, AVX floating point acceleration translates directly to higher speed application execution. Quick Path Interconnect (QPI), a feature of server-class Intel processors, al-
lows multiple server-class processors to be linked into a single SMP processing architecture. High-speed QPI interfaces allow operating systems to execute a single kernel across multiple processors, combining all processorsâ€™ memory into a single address space. When combined with the larger number of cores in the Intel Xeon server-class family, a QPI-linked processor cluster allows any core to access any onboard memory, regardless of physical location, drastically reducing the amount of code necessary to move data between processing elements in a radar application. SMP software architectures greatly reduce latency for data exchanges, which, when combined with the large number of cores and the floating point acceleration
Ground-based mobile radar systems like this phased array, 3-dimensional air search radar depend on a redundant architecture with computer software remote controlled and monitored operations to reduce the need for it to be manned.
[ 28 ] COTS Journal December 2011
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