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Tech Focus: Ethernet Switch Boards Roundup

The Journal of Military Electronics & Computing


Technology Convergence Fuels Military Robotics

— Shielding and Signal Integrity

Challenge Rugged System Designs

Volume 14 Number 4 April 2012

An RTC Group Publication

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The products below are a sampling of RTD’s PCIe/104 and PCI/104-Express offering. All of RTD’s board-level solutions are available in ruggedized packaging with advanced heat sinking, internal raceways, and a variety of I/O configurations. Visit to see our complete product listing.

The Journal of Military Electronics & Computing


Four Embedded Form Factors with the Most Secure Future

CONTENTS April 2012

Volume 14

Number 4

SPECIAL FEATURE Four Embedded Form Factors with the Most Secure Future

10 Futureproof Form Factors: Picking the Winners Jeff Child

18 One Size Doesn’t Fit All in Form Factor Choice

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.

Departments 6 Publisher’s Notebook The Army’s All-in Bet 8

The Inside Track


COTS Products

70 Editorial Engineering Cost Control

David Pursley, Kontron

26 FPGAs and GPGPUs Vie for Military System Design Mindshare Marc Couture, Mercury Computer Systems

Coming in May See Page 68

TECH RECON Advances in Military Robotics

36 Ambitious Road Ahead for Military Robotics Technology Jeff Child

SYSTEM DEVELOPMENT Harsh Environment Testing for Boards and Enclosures

44 EMI Shielding for Enclosures Calls for Application-Specific Thinking Joel Young, Crenlo

48 Signal Integrity and OpenVPX Backplane Architecture Trends Michael Munroe, Elma Electronic

TECHNOLOGY FOCUS Rugged Ethernet Switch Boards

54 Rugged Ethernet Switch Boards Blend Fabric and Network Roles Jeff Child


Ethernet Switch Boards Roundup Digital subscriptions available:

On The Cover: An AH-64D Apache Longbow attack helicopter hovers above the airfield at Camp Taji in Baghdad, Iraq. The helicopter belongs to the 1st Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Aviation Regiment, part of the 1st Infantry Division’s Enhanced Combat Aviation Brigade. Earlier this year Lockheed, with support from Boeing, conducted the first airborne demonstration of AMF JTRS on board the AH-64D Apache (Block III architecture) helicopter.


The Journal of Military Electronics & Computing



B B - 2 5 9 0 B AT T E RY C H A R G E R

PRESIDENT John Reardon,

The Lind BB-2590 Battery Charger is designed to charge a single BB-2590 military battery, with or without the SMBUS (BB-2590 battery not included). ‡ Compatible with BB-2590 military battery and BB-2590 military battery with SMBUS ‡ 9HOFUR VWUDS VHFXUHV WKH FRQQHFWRU WR WKH EDWWHU\ WR HQVXUH D VROLG connection with the battery contacts ‡ *UHHQ/('RQFKDUJHULQGLFDWHVFKDUJLQJVWDWH ‡ 2WKHU LQSXW FDEOH RSWLRQV DYDLODEOH XSRQ UHTXHVW VRPH RSWLRQV LQFOXGH 1$726ODYHFRQQHFWRUEDUHZLUHOHDGRUVRODUSDQHOFRQQHFWLRQV

PUBLISHER Pete Yeatman,






Advertising WESTERN REGIONAL SALES MANAGER Stacy Mannik, (949) 226-2024 76>,9:7,*0(30:;:-6946)03,*647<;05.


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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, 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 THEâ&#x20AC;&#x2C6;RTCâ&#x20AC;&#x2C6;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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COTS Journal | April 2012

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NOTEBOOK The Army’s All-in Bet


ow that many of the budget cards are on the table, everyone is trying to make their best hand. The Army is either playing a bad hand or pulling a poor bluff. I probably shouldn’t comment because I have the direct opposite of a poker face. I’ve never been able to play cards. After our military intervention in Kosovo, we determined that we could do anything quickly with technology and air power. Iraq 1 set the stage for accepting we can perform a quick combined air and ground strike. Iraq 2 and Afghanistan proved that our adversaries have the ability to mitigate our technology and removed “quick” from our plan—especially when we are going to include nation building in the plan. Our current vision for the military is that we will not get involved in any situations that may include a long campaign. It also sees our naval presence as a Sword of Damocles and a deterrent to potential adversaries. Where absolutely necessary we will use the Marines and the Army to perform short incursions and get out. Reading between the lines of the U.S. Military budget, you can see that politicians are convinced that all the “do evil doers” are going to play to this plan. Because of my advanced age, I am able to know from experience that few adversaries have decided to play into our strength. And even those that did eventually came around to playing upon our weaknesses. Let’s now get back to our poker game. The Marine Corps went all in on the AAAV (Advanced Amphibious Assault Vehicle)—to the tune of $3 billion. And they did so at the expense of upgrading or maintaining other equipment. Now what do they have? Assault vehicles that are completely out of date and in desperate need of maintenance and upgrading—and no funds to do it. Watching the Marines go through this, you would instantly assume that the Army would learn from this failed “all-in” strategy of play. The Army has tens of thousands of aging Humvees, thousands of MRAPS that have very restricted operational environments, and aging M3 Bradleys in desperate need of maintenance and upgrading. Either the Army knows something about future budgets that the rest of the world doesn’t know, or they are good gamblers on the future use of our military. They are putting all their chips on GCV /JLTV development and subsequent approval and production. Even if all the funding needed to run these programs is provided as planned—with normal development cycles, technology development and so on—the Army would be lucky if they had a very minimal amount of these vehicles by 2017. In the meantime, current vehicles would continue a very rapid degra6

COTS Journal | April 2012

dation in readiness and usefulness. We all understand that getting funding for programs even in the best of times is a full court press. And the more programs you have in a particular area of need, the easier it is for politicians to determine what programs are implemented through funding. Maybe the Army isn’t playing poker but rather a game of “chicken” with Congress and the Administration. If the world according to the Administration’s vision for the military doesn’t play out—and we do need ground troops for more than just quick tactical strikes—what will happen? Will the Army attempt to force Congress to approve emergency funding to implement emergency maintenance on mothballed equipment and upgrade current inventory of vehicles? I fully appreciate the Army’s need for new surface vehicles. But accepting world situations, overall budget issues, technology development cycles and so on means that a more realistic and prudent approach might be to push for limited GCV/JLTV design programs, and major funding for upgrades and maintenance of a limited number of current vehicles. There will be no comfort in being able to say to the Army “I told you so” if a military situation arises in the near term and we don’t have the necessary usable vehicles to support it. There is no question that the Army and Marines require next generation vehicles. But the timeline of availability cannot supersede the requirement for them to perform effectively now. Congress and the Administration will pick away at new large development programs year by year to relieve budget pressures. It’s only a matter of time before Congress wins the game of chicken or poker. And then the Army will be in the same situation as the Marines are in. At the AUSA Winter Symposium 2012 in Ft. Lauderdale, GEN Raymond T. Odierno, Chief of Staff, U.S. Army, spoke about how the Army is working to balance End Strength, Readiness and Modernization including some insights about the GCV near the end of the video. Watch the video at odierno.

Pete Yeatman, Publisher COTS Journal


INSIDE TRACK Lockheed Martin Upgrades Tactical Tomahawk Weapons Control System The system that integrates the launch hardware and software to provide weapon control for the Tomahawk Land Attack Missile is being modernized by Lockheed Martin. As a member of the Tomahawk Weapons Control System Development Activity in partnership with the U.S. Navy Labs, Lockheed Martin is upgrading the Tactical Tomahawk Weapons Control System (TTWCS). TTWCS provides firing units the ability to prepare, control and launch Tomahawk missiles and is one of three major components that comprise the Tomahawk Weapons System. After an extensive five-year design, development and test program, the Program Executive Office, Strike Weapons and Unmanned Aviation, and PMA-280, Tomahawk Weapons System, authorized fleet release of the latest TTWCS system upgrade. This TTWCS hardware and software upgrade provides improvements for specific mission and launch timelines. The team is also implementing new processors that reduce run-times for several applications from minutes to seconds. It also serves as a stepping stone to the next upgrade scheduled in 2015. As part of an incremental approach, the present TTWCS upgrade will be installed on surface platforms only: Ticonderoga Class Cruisers (CG) and Arleigh Burke Class Destroyers (DDG). Lockheed Martin Bethesda, MD. (301) 897-6000. [].

FAA Reaffirms Approval of LynuxWorks LynxOS-178 RSC RTOS LynuxWorks has received its second reusable software components (RSC) approval for the LynxOS-178 product family. The company was the first and only embedded operating system vendor to receive Advisory Circular AC 20-148 approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). With RSC approval, the LynxOS-178 Version 2.2.2 RTOS can be more extensively used by avionics systems integrators and embedded developers for the operating system portion of the safety-critical software code and supporting DO-178B artifacts for reuse in other system designs with other software components without the need for full recertification. LynxOS-178 was designed solely for safety-critical applications. The standards-based approach 8

COTS Journal | April 2012

Figure 1

USS Normandy (CG-60) conducts Tomahawk missile operational test launch off Southern Florida’s coast. for software reuse in airborne systems and equipment offers a “software black box” solution that can significantly reduce the time and cost of achieving FAA certification and further reduce the risk involved in redevelopment efforts across multiple safety-critical systems. RSC certification for LynuxWorks’ LynxOS-178 safety-critical RTOS is available immediately at no additional charge to existing customers. LynuxWorks San Jose, CA. (408) 979-3900. [].

Marine Aviators Complete Operational Tests of BAE Systems’ APKWS Aviators from the U.S. Marine Corps completed the Initial Operational Test and

Evaluation phase of the Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) program, firing rounds against stationary and moving targets. The APKWS—the U.S. government’s only program of record for the semi-active laser-guided 2.75-inch rocket—is expected to be operational in Afghanistan in March. In the final series of test shots, the laserguided rockets were fired from a variety of distances from Marine AH-1W and UH-1Y helicopters in scenarios that are expected to be encountered in theater. The APKWS is a low-cost, low-yield weapon alternative to other air-launched munitions currently in the inventory. The system transforms a standard 2.75-inch unguided rocket into a smart, highly precise laser-guided missile that is effective against soft and lightly armored targets while

Figure 2

In the final series of APKWS test shots, the laser-guided rockets were fired from a variety of distances from Marine AH-1W and UH-1Y helicopters in scenarios that are expected to be encountered in theater. causing minimal collateral damage. According to BAE Systems, APKWS has successfully completed more than 80 shots in the past few months. Because it uses standard rocket launchers, APKWS requires no platform integration or aircraft modifications, and because it is loaded and fired just like a


standard 2.75-inch rocket, very little aviator or ordnance crew training is required. BAE Systems McLean, VA. (703) 847-5820. [].

First New-Production Patriot System Makes Successful Flight Test Raytheon successfully completed a system-level guided flight test of the newproduction Patriot at White Sands Missile Range, NM. The modernized Patriot (Figure 3) provides an affordable, low-risk and rapid path to meet the warfighterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s current and future air and missile defense requirements. The system-level test used new-production major end items (radar, Guidance Enhanced Missile-Tactical (GEM-T) missile, launching station, Information Coordination Central and Engagement

Figure 3

The Patriot system test used new-production major end items including radar, Guidance Enhanced Missile-Tactical (GEM-T) missile, launching station, Information Coordination Central and Engagement Control Station. Control Station) against a longstanding performance scenario to verify system capability. In the guided test f light, the system searched, detected and tracked an air-breathing

target f lying at a low altitude in a high-clutter environment, which the GEM-T missile engaged and destroyed. This scenario was specifically chosen by Raytheon and the U.S. Army for its ability to provide a rigorous test of all aspects of the Patriot system. This builds on the successful test of the first new ground-up production GEM-T missile announced last October. Raytheon is the prime contractor for both domestic and international Patriot Air and Missile Defense Systems and system integrator for Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missiles. Raytheon Waltham, MA. (781) 522-3000. [].

ViaSat Real-Time Network System Tapped for Military Airborne ISR ViaSat has successfully fielded Satellite Access Manager (SAM), a new broadband satcom service manager for military airborne ISR (Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance) operations. SAM is providing U.S. forces throughout the Middle East with dramatically higher bandwidth utilization and efficiency, as well as higher data rates and increased signal-to-noise performance. SAM is a real-time network monitoring system for ViaSat ArcLight 2 mobile satellite broadband terminals. The system enables network managers to provision multiple remote users on an airborne network within a common bandwidth pool, and provides dynamic assignment of bandwidth and communications priority to high-value platforms as they begin missions. In addition, manual overrides can reassign

satellite channels in real time to support changing mission requirements. SAM is primarily for DoD missions, which have very different requirements compared to commercial network customers who share capacity while using the ViaSat Yonder global mobile service. ViaSat. Carlsbad, CA. (760) 476-2200. [].

Northrop Grumman Awarded Post Production Contract for LITENING Northrop Grumman has been awarded a post-production support contract by the U.S. Air Force to provide the LITENING targeting pod program with G4 upgrade kits, updated Operational Flight Programs, integration and flight tests with the F-16 Block 30, F-16 Block 40/50, A-10C, F-15E, B-52 and B-1 aircraft, along with other studies and analysis.

The LITENING G4 pod targeting and surveillance system provides unrivaled imagery using 1k forward-looking infrared (FLIR), 1k chargecoupled device (CCD) sensors, and wider field of view and enhanced zoom, which deliver accurate target identification at longer ranges for battlefield conditions than previous generations of the LITENING targeting pods systems. Since its introduction in 1999, the LITENING system has fielded four spiral upgrades to ensure continued combat relevance in an ever-changing battlespace. LITENING G4 is the fifth step in the evolution of the LITENING family and applies the latest in sensor technology to achieve unprecedented levels of target detection, recognition and identification ranges. Northrop Grumman Los Angeles, CA. (310) 553-6262. [].

Figure 4

The LITENING G4 pod targeting and surveillance system provides unrivaled imagery using 1k FLIR, 1k charge-coupled device (CCD) sensors, and wider field of view and enhanced zoom. April 2012 | COTS Journal


SPECIAL FEATURE Four Embedded Form Factors with the Most Secure Future


COTS Journal | April 2012

Futureproof Form Factors: Picking the Winners It takes more than just technical elegance to win as a standard board-level form factor. Four architectures offer what it takes to win long-term acceptance in military system designs. Jeff Child Editor-in-Chief


here are a lot of aspects that lead to acceptance by the military for a particular board-level embedded computing form factor. It’s not simply technical merit but a host of vendor, standard and product ecosystem issues that mean success. Technical attributes such as ruggedness, scalability, upgradability and interoperability are all important. But a form factor standard can fall flat simply if not enough vendors have bought into it—and that means developing products supporting it. And in the military market, there’s the added nuance of longevity. Military system developers are wise not to embrace any technology that won’t be around in 5 or 10 years. With that in mind, there’s a certain “confidence” time period that has to pass before any form factor can be considered worthy of playing in this market where long development and deployment cycles are the rule not the exception. With all that in mind, COTS Journal did an informal survey of embedded computer vendors in the industry, collecting their insights about which standard form factors are likely to enjoy the most secure future in military systems. We concentrated on those that have a history of product development across a variety of form factors. VME/VXS, VPX, cPCI, PC/104, COM Express, ATCA, MicroTCA and others were considered. For the sake of focus, mezzanine form factors were omitted from the discussion, and we instead aimed at specifically single board computer form factors. The results weren’t unexpected—except that there was surprising consensus. The information guided our picks for the four winning form factors. In every case, there’s a “big April 2012 | COTS Journal



A New Memory Module Form Factor Robert A. Burckle, Vice President, WinSystems A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, yet this has been the case for single board computers (SBCs) trying to use standard commercial SO-DIMMs in harsh and rugged environments. Companies have tried to use clips, glue, or tie-down straps to keep commercial socketed card edge memory in place. This is a poor solution at best when reliability is imperative. To solve this problem, the SFF-SIG (Small Form Factor Special Interest Group) industry trade association has defined an open standard, off-the-shelf memory module specification that targets mil/aero and rugged industrial applications. An XR-DIMM (eXtreme Rugged Smalloutline Dual Inline Memory Module) is a highly rugged, DDR3 mezzanine memory module with a high-density board-to-board mated connector optimized for different small form factor SBCs. It measures only 38 mm x 67.5 mm x 7.36 mm (Figure A). This small size allows the module to be used on different industry standard SBCs such as EPIC, PC/104, COM Express, VME, VPX and others. Like the commercial SO-DIMM, it supports both unbuffered and registered versions. Additionally, the XR-DIMM Figure A definition includes a SATA interface to enable Rugged XR-DIMM memory modules the development of dual function modules conare only 38 x 67.5 mm. taining both DDR3 memory and flash memory for a Solid State Disk (SSD) implementation. Ruggedness is achieved by using a 240pin Samtec BTH/BSH connector pair on the memory module and SBC board, along with two mounting holes at the edge of the module. The use of standoffs with screw attachment firmly holds the base board and memory module together. By avoiding the socket "wings" that hold an SO-DIMM in place, XR-DIMM modules can fit on a number of small form factor CPU boards that cannot use SO-DIMM because of the overall width (72 mm). Finally, the pin definition for XR-DIMM closely aligns with the SO-DIMM pin definition, making it easy to adapt an existing SO-DIMM-based design to use a rugged XR-DIMM module. The XR-DIMM Specification is more than a proposal. A shock and vibration study of a prototype module on a COM Express CPU passed the ANSI/VITA 47-2005 (R2007) specifications. Currently two vendors, Virtium Technology and Swissbit, offer products that conform to this specification. For more information, go to the XR-DIMM web page located at

picture” caveat to where each form factor is positioned, and special circumstances that drive the kind of widespread use—or niche—each enjoys.

Tried and True VME No other embedded form factor has the rich and successful legacy in military systems that VME claims. VME has been able to remain backward compatible and facilitate technology refresh in military programs. Even today, a new board with 12

COTS Journal | April 2012

the latest and greatest processor, memory and I/O can easily be dropped into a slot that could be decades old. 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. The VXS standard (VITA 41), extended the life of VMEbus, offering both increased bandwidth and a

Figure 1

The SVME/DMV-194 is a 6U VME64 SBC based on a Freescale Power Architecture QorIQ P2020 processor with dual 1.2 GHz cores. It provides system integrators with a path for the cost-effective technology insertion upgrade of legacy VME systems. Its typical power dissipation is rated at 2025W. high level of board-level backward compatibility. With the reductions in the DoD budgets looming, VME upgrades and refreshes are much more likely to be funded, rather than forklift upgrades requiring new backplanes, packaging and power supplies. Ensuring VME’s longevity is the fact that there are more than 400 programs in the military using it.

CompactPCI Holds its Own Boasting nearly two decades under its belt, CompactPCI can claim to offer all the aspects that pass the test for military decision makers. Though cPCI isn’t ever expected to eclipse the legacy of VME in the military market, its mindshare remains solid. The marketplace offers a wide collection of cPCI products that are available from a variety of vendors in every category including single board computers, I/O boards, slot-card power supplies, storage subsystems, mezzanine carriers, DSP engines and many others. In a lot of cases cPCI board products offered in air-cooled versions are also available in a companion conduction-cooled version that’s electronically an identical design. The PCI Industrial Manufacturers Group (PICMG) developed performance upgrade paths for cPCI, such as PICMG 2.16 and CompactPCI Express, and the PICMG 2.30 specification, called CompactPCI PlusIO. Last March, PICMG upped the ante announcing the suc-

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cessful completion and adoption of the CompactPCI Serial (CPCI-S.0) specification. This specification adds greater support for serial point to point fabrics like PCI Express, SATA, Ethernet and USB in the classic CompactPCI form factor. An example CompactPCI military application is the Navy’s AEGIS Modernization Program (Figure 2). AEGIS Modernization Baseline (AMOD CR3) calls for modernizing CG 59-73 and DDG 51-78 with a new computing architecture through technical insertion (TI 12), upgraded display consoles, computer program enhancements, and introduces increased weapon capabilities into the AEGIS Combat System through Advanced Capability Build 12 (ACB 12).

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The USS Princeton (CG 59) is among the vessels to receive the AEGIS Modernization Baseline (AMOD CR3) upgrade, which includes CompactPCI technology.


COTS Journal | April 2012

One advantage of PC/104 and small form factor boards in general, is that the trend of semiconductor integration naturally means that a complete system is moving ever toward a smaller footprint. The PC/104 form factor—along with all of its follow-on variants—continues to hold a secure legacy position in military embedded systems. As perhaps the most tried and true small form factor solution used by the military and other embedded computing market segments, PC/104 remains a mainstay in the defense arena. According to research from VDC, the combined global PC/104 CPU module and expansion module market is expected to reach approximately $251.6 million by 2014, with a compound annual growth of rate of 5.82%. Alongside PC/104 there are a variety of “PC/104-like” form factors—including variants out of the Small Form Factor SIG, and PC/104-family specifications out of the PC/104 Consortium. This set of choices includes ESMini, EBX, SUMITISM and COM Express along with a variety of small non-standard boards. A promising PC/104-like form factor is the SFF-SIG’s ISM (Industry Standard Module) and SUMIT-ISM Specifications for small, rugged, stackable embedded systems. The SUMIT-ISM Specification documents the use of SFF-SIG’s flexible


Figure 3

This PC/104 form factor SBC from Advanced Digital Logic sports the 2nd generation Intel Core i7 processor that incorporates Intel’s latest embedded two-chip platform. It provides PCI Express I/O bandwidth at twice the speed (5 Gbit/s) of previous i7 or Core 2 Duo platforms. SUMIT (Stackable Unified Module Interface Technology) interface on popular 90 x 96 mm stackable modules. The ISM Specification provides an explicit form factor only definition upon which the SUMIT-ISM Specification is built.

ATCA Thrives Within Specific Niche In terms of its reasons for success in the military, AdvancedTCA ranks as the most unusual of the top embedded computing form factors. ATCA in recent years has carved out a solid niche in military applications suited to its features. There’s no alternative aside from ATCA for a largesized board form factor—larger than 6U slot card boards. Therefore ATCA shines in a military system where compute density and raw performance are top priorities, while VME and CompactPCI are suited for managing heavy I/O, but their form factors offer limited networking and processing capability. The highperformance and bandwidth capabilities of ATCA bring the latest technologies to standards-based applications, such as command and control, aerospace surveillance, land mobile communications and maritime networks, which must collect and manage large amounts of data in real time. ATCA is the perfect fit for those 16

COTS Journal | April 2012

Figure 4

ATCA has gained acceptance in applications like UAV ground control stations. With ATCA it is easy to integrate new networks with legacy systems. Video and audio are critical elements of these applications, which combine to create tremendous bandwidth requirements. Future ATCA solutions will handle 40 Gbits of traffic for video applications such as HD video. requirements, because ATCA was specifically designed to address high-density network communications applications and deliver up to eight times the performance of VPX and 40 times the performance of VME or cPCI. In addition, ATCA is a broadly adopted standard that has proven its interoperability through nearly six years of deployment in the communication segment. Among the major programs that have considered ATCA is the U.S. Navy’s Consolidated Afloat Networks and Enterprise Services (CANES). Open standardsbased high-availability (HA) middleware on ATCA platforms provides further fault tolerance on an application level that allows continued operations of critical missions even with some hardware and software failures. This is one reason ATCA has gained entry into applications like UAV ground control stations (Figure 4). With ATCA it is easy to integrate new networks with legacy systems. Video and audio are critical elements of these applications, which combine to create tremendous bandwidth requirements. Current

ATCA technologies can fully support 10 Gbits of traffic on the system backplane to process voice and video traffic, while future ATCA solutions will handle 40 Gbits of traffic for video applications such as HD video.

The Runners Up Designed specifically for military systems, OpenVPX has most of all the criteria to deserve to be in the top four embedded form factors. As OpenVPX gains acceptance, it’s still early days for this emerging form factor. VPX had a rocky start, but in the past couple years the goal of bringing together advanced switch fabric interconnects and all the features of a modern, rugged embedded computer architecture, finally came together in the form of OpenVPX. Early adopters are now on their second—in some cases third—round of VITA 46-compliant products, and new vendors have joined the game with their first VPX products just last year. All that said, OpenVPX has not yet passed that “confidence time” period. There are several design wins for the


architecture, but it’s premature to say for certain that its future is 100% guaranteed. Such a claim is just not in keeping with the risk-adverse defense market. The strategy of hybrid systems that include part VME and part VPX is one inroad for VPX that’s become popular. In the past 12 months, COM Express has emerged as one of the common formats among new small form factor product rollouts. The Computer-on-Module (COM) concept has found a solid and growing foothold in military embedded systems. COM Express adds high-speed fabric interconnects to the mix. COM boards provide a complete computing core that can be upgraded when needed, leaving the application-specific I/O on the baseboard. A single COM Express module can provide the same processing and graphics performance as alternative solutions: like a multiple PC/104 board stack. The future of COM Express looks solid, but again, its acceptance in military applications is so recent that it’s too soon to predict how strong a stake it will hold. Meanwhile, blade server based computing solutions and other rackmount boards are rapidly finding a niche in a variety of military applications such as SATCOM-On-the-Move systems. Now that complete server-level computers are available in a 1U blade, it’s possible to pack a lot of computing in a convenient rack-based space alongside off-the-shelf 1U network routing and advanced communications boards. A wealth of product and system solutions are available targeting military applications with these requirements. One advantage of the 1U form factor is that it makes it easier to put together systems that incorporate existing IT-based 1U boards, such as specialized encryption systems, precision timing boards, or tried and true networking gear like Cisco routers. Rackmount systems of larger sizes such as 2U, 3U and 4U, are also gaining acceptance in military systems where compute density is paramount. While as a form factor, rackmount style blades are well established, their use in military applications is still somewhat new.

Non-Standard and Box-Level Solutions Against the backdrop of board-level form factors, there’s a key trend that has put a wrinkle in the market. Because complete box-level systems are becoming a mainstay in many military system designs, there isless of a concern sometimes for a standard board-level form


factor. For some military systems, what’s inside the box doesn’t matter as long as the box itself can be upgraded. All that said, board-level embedded computing form factors continue to be at the heart of military systems and will be for decades to come—even as box-level systems gain in importance.


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April 2012 | COTS 3/31/11 Journal4:38:21 17PM

SPECIAL FEATURE Four Embedded Form Factors with the Most Secure Future

One Size Doesn’t Fit All in Form Factor Choice There are distinct differences between the embedded computing form factors that have gained the most traction in the defense market. But the top choices have achieved a level of acceptance that’s particularly important to military system designs. David Pursley, Product Line Manager Kontron


t is said that there is nothing more certain than change. This is especially true of the remarkable advancements made in embedded computing. And, nowhere are the advancements realized from embedded computing form factors and standards more tested and scrutinized than in military systems. Applications for the modern battlefield challenge the rigors of design methodologies where only the strongest, most viable form factors ultimately survive. But, because of varied military application requirements, both technology and program based, no one embedded form factor suits all needs. That is why multiple embedded computing form factors have been developed and continue to successfully serve the needs of specific applications. With the reality that “one size does not fit all,” there are those standardized commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) platforms that demonstrate their mettle time after time particularly in the military environment. If the list needs to be narrowed down to four form factors, it would include VME, CompactPCI and COM Express Computer-on-Modules (COMs), with VPX joining the ranks as a successful newcomer that has quickly proven its worth. Military OEMs have learned that all factors must be considered in order to deter18

COTS Journal | April 2012

Figure 1

6U VME boards are the selected computing form factor for several major Mobile Radar Systems programs. The system technology features include high-speed computing, automatic target recognition, computer-based decision aids and high-speed networking. mine the best design approach. This is why no discussion of the secure future for specific embedded form factors would be complete without the important system requirements and metrics by which they are judged. Of fundamental importance are adherence to size, weight and power (SWaP) requirements, and military programs have added

the all-important “C”—cost to the equation. Another certainty is that systems will continue to be smaller, and the form factors that enable them will need to evolve to match.

Performance and Interoperability Performance and interoperability demands on military systems drive embed-


Figure 2

This military ground vehicle program, for example, has deployed a 6U CompactPCI board to manage data and voice communications. These vehicles have exacting communication protocol support requirements and must operate reliably in the most severe temperature and high shock and vibration environments. ded computing form factors to support a variety of data and sensor sources with ever higher image resolution technologies for air, sea and land surveillance and tactical weapons applications. Computing performance requirements go hand-in-hand with the need for massive bandwidth and secure connectivity for effective battlefield coordination. The most viable form factors need to deliver immense data processing capabilities with advanced communication protocol support. The standardization and easy integration of proven advanced technologies is a must. Securing a form factorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s future requires the porting of the latest processor architectures, chip sets and software within standards-based boards and systems enclosures. Meanwhile, it is crucial that military systems have the highest availability and reliability. Continued breakthroughs in cooling methodologies 20

COTS Journal | April 2012

and thermal management are essential in meeting this metric.

The Standard-Bearer: VME VME has proven itself over the long haul as the COTS standard-bearer in military systems, and it is the most deployed standard in military applications for many good reasons. VME has given developers a successful history of design flexibility due to its open architecture, proven reliability, rugged performance and a well-established support ecosystem. Its VMEbus architecture provides high bandwidth with a backplane that enables easy maintenance and improved configuration flexibility. VME virtually opened the door for real-time computing with its 32-bit addressing and data path and highly ruggedized connector. Furthermore, VMEâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s 25-year role in military design remains steadfast in

its ability to be upgraded and adaptable to address the needs of evolving military systems. This is proven in the VME64X development that supports a 64-bit bus plus I/O features that include an additional backplane connector with 95 more pins and rear I/O capabilities. VME has also adopted key technology from other form factors to keep its edge, such as using GETH on the backplane specified in the VITA31.1 standard. The ubiquitous PICMG 2.16 VME specification enables VME to leverage CompactPCI ETH switches making it VITA31.1 compliant. In many programs, the VME form factor offers a cost-effective option for specific performance, I/O and ruggedness requirements. Designers are realizing that form factors such as VPX complement VME, not replace it, allowing programs to maintain performance while keeping budgets and development time at a minimum.


Figure 1 shows an example mobile radar system that relies on 6U VME technology.

Proven Performer: CompactPCI CompactPCI has earned its place as a well-accepted form factor for military applications. Matching many of the demands of military systems in everything from command control, aircraft and ground vehicles, the CompactPCI form factor delivers ruggedness, high bandwidth and long life in a cost-effective standardized modular platform. CompactPCI is a solid and proven platform that supports multiple Gigabit Ethernet communication links over the backplane. It delivers high processing performance and I/O throughput in a proven smaller, scalable and rugged form factor. Both 3U and 6U CompactPCI form factors are available with the latest dual-core and quad-core high-performance processor architectures and userfamiliar interface technologies such as Gigabit Ethernet and Serial ATA. It offers an optimum military system solution with sophisticated system management and dense computing performance, all supported by advanced air- or conduction-cooled thermal management. Helping to meet the demand for high-availability systems, CompactPCI also provides hot-swap support and IPMI (PICMG 2.9-compliant Intelligent Platform Management Interface). These features enable developers and users to attach additional blades to facilitate system upgrades. The flexibility of the system is further enhanced by a high degree of integration in a small form factor including memory and networking slots and rear I/O support. For example, CompactPCI delivers several advantages by providing either a 32-bit or a full 64-bit wide bus in a smaller 3U form factor. Military designers also select CompactPCI because of its extensive software development environment and tools as it meets the needs for real-time and standard operating system support and enjoys a rich hardware and software ecosystem. Backplane I/O provides another advantage for military systems that have to withstand high levels of shock and vibration. Figure 2 shows an 22

COTS Journal | April 2012

Figure 3

The COMe-cPV2 XT COM Express compact module offers a rugged design rated for the extended temperature range of -40° to +85°C and delivers high performance via the Dual-Core Intel Atom processor. example of a vehicle-mounted military communications system that uses 6U CompactPCI boards.

The Ultimate SWaP-C: COM Express Small form factor modules are continually seen as essential building blocks that help to reduce military application development costs by protecting design investments and paving the way for future savings with a scalable migration path. Computer-on-modules (COMs) are also known for streamlining the upgrade path to integrate future technologies where smaller and more mobile designs are becoming the norm. A small form factor that continues to offer designers long-term options is COM Express, which consistently has provided technology advancements in terms of performance, low power and extended temperature functionality. The scalability aspects of COM Express allow the current module to be replaced with another that matches their requirements. So when an application needs to migrate to a processor architecture with improved computing performance or one that provides lower power consumption, using this approach allows designers to integrate new processor and technology advances while

safeguarding customization investments. It also lessens development risk and helps shorten time-to-market, making OEMs in control of the migration path. COM Express is also a cost-effective solution that supports graphics-intensive requirements in many of today’s military systems. It offers a powerful parallel processing and graphics unit and supports a variety of graphics interfaces, making it an optimal solution for applications requiring extremely high graphics performance. This is especially important for high-performance data processing used in military applications that need to perform image processing, data encoding and situational awareness. COM Express supports designers with a healthy ecosystem of resources to manage migration, as well as essential design flexibility to add new features with custom carrier boards. This is a significant advantage when scaling a design not only from generation to generation, but also within a single generation. For example, OEMs have a drop-in replacement for energy efficient upgrades and extended usage models by easily migrating to the Kontron COMe-cPV2 XT COM Express compact module (Figure 3). This module offers a rugged design rated for the extended temperature range of -40° to +85°C and delivers high performance via the Dual-Core Intel Atom processor.

Built for Speed: VPX One of the major performanceenhancing benefits of VPX is its ability to provide full data plane bandwidth on the backplane. VPX allows each board to have access to higher performance technologies, such as 10GbE, Serial RapidIO and PCI Express, thanks to its OpenVPX connector and backplane design. These serial high-speed backplanes allow full bandwidth between each board, which gives designers incredible flexibility to implement high-speed serial link pointto-point connections between boards compared to the limitations of parallel bus architectures. With VPX-based boards, fabric protocol compatibility is no longer an issue. VPX backplane technology, signal allocation and voltage on the backplane are the

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Figure 4

For programs that need compact high-performance parallel computing with advanced HD graphics, the VX3035 is a multi-purpose 3U VPX single board computer that offers ultra high performance while meeting SWaP-C requirements. same no matter what the final choice of fabric technology. VPX gives military designers increased flexibility to add different types of I/O directly into the fabric. VPX also offers development time and cost savings. Eliminated from the design is the specialized data transmission mezzanine board for the exchange of data from board to board, which reduces costs. With VPX, the core chipset now delivers high-speed I/O on the backplane to remove the need for specific device driver development, which reduces development time. Another important advantage for military tech upgrades is VPXâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s ability to meet SWaP-C requirements. Offering a transition path from the huge installed base of 6U VME in a broad range of legacy applications, military designers can combine 6U and 3U VPX on the backplane to reduce the computing footprint. This approach provides an optimal low-risk, highly efficient and COTS-based solution to migrate a design. Figure 4 shows an example of a high-performance VPX board solution.

Solid Support for Military Systems Again, military systems designers are best served with a thorough evaluation of application and program requirements 24

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COTS Journal | April 2012

2/3/12 1:59:48 PM

to determine the right embedded COTS form factor for a specific design. The form factors highlighted here represent the most popular ones adopted by many OEMs, but they are clearly not the only solutions available. VME, CompactPCI, COM Express and VPX all represent strong and proven form factors that have a viable future in military applications because of their support of performance and reliability enhancements in matching the complex requirements in this demanding industry. The good news for military designers is that there is a good range of solid solutions where one form factor is the clear winner to meet SWaPC priorities and another to optimize and upgrade a legacy design, and still a third that is the optimal choice to support the highest performance requirements. With standardized COTS-based form factors, OEMs are assured of interoperable platforms that streamline the development process to reduce costs and speed timeto-market, thus securing advancements for the modern battlefield and securing our future as well. Kontron America Poway, CA. (858) 677-0877. [].

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SPECIAL FEATURE Four Embedded Form Factors with the Most Secure Future

FPGAs and GPGPUs Vie for Military System Design Mindshare With advanced FPGA and GPU processing power available on the popular military board-level form factors, system developers can choose the best technology for the job—and consider hybrid systems. Marc Couture, Director of Product Management Mercury Computer Systems


dvanced sensor processing continues to demand greater performance while consuming less of a vehicle’s Size, Weight and Power (SWaP) budget. FPGAs and the General Purpose Graphical Processor Units (GPGPUs) are increasingly being used for the highly parallel, repetitive front-end processing of raw sensor data. While both of these device types use large arrays of simplified execution cores to continually process incoming sensor data streams, the question often arises: “Will the FPGA be subsumed by the GPGPU, or vice versa?”

Market Drivers Applications and platforms like software-defined radio, cryptography, UAVs, and soldier-worn computers rely on comprehensive amounts of data delivered in near real time. The data is often used for complex mission situations that require equipment to perform multiple functions in rugged environments while minimizing SWaP consumption in order to maximize mission time. These applications utilize high-performance sensors that produce enormous amounts of data— often measured in gigabytes per second (Gbytes/s) that must be processed and disseminated quickly. 26

COTS Journal | April 2012

Cameras, for instance, have evolved to gigapixel performance, producing unheard of amounts of high-resolution data that produces intricately detailed pictures of the target surveillance area with information vital to the warfighter. UAVs, on the other hand, still can’t carry a payload much larger than that of a decade ago (Figure 1). To accommodate the newest sensor technology, designs must focus on maximizing the power of performance while minimizing the power usage. This requires bigger heat sinks and fans, all of which add weight and translate to shorter mission times. Complicating the matter is the demand for systems that can be used on a UAV, a trailer or carried by an individual soldier. This requires an extremely flexible, saleable, multifunction solution. The ability to reuse and leverage technology across a spectrum of applications and platforms—whether needing 10 processing units for a UAV or a single processing unit for an individual soldier—and provide the function, performance and protection needed at a lower cost, is critical.

warfighter, a command center, or a sophisticated UAV, driving the need for technical innovation and design that delivers greater performance while simultaneously consuming less of a platform’s SWaP budget. FPGAs have been important in expediting the military’s modernization process. They offer a faster time-to-market and their capacity to integrate logic, DSP functions and general purpose processors reduces power consumption and cost, maximizing SWaP usage and extending mission life. Graphics chips have long been used in military applications, driving displays in land, naval and airborne applications, and sparked by demand for smart displays and 360 degree situational awareness systems. The need for these chips continues to grow. Today, general purpose computation on graphics processing units (GPGPUs) is being leveraged for signal and image processing applications that were previously solely the domain of FPGAs. While both FPGAs and GPGPUs have advantages, they both bring challenges as well from technical and economic perspectives.

Scalability and Flexibility

FPGAs vs. GPGPUs: Technology

In essence, today’s military applications must scale and be flexible enough to be reused or leveraged by an individual

FPGAs are readily available in families with a wide range of performance and costs parameters, allowing designers to

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Figure 1

While cameras and sensors have improved incredibly over the years, UAVs carry a payload much larger than that of a decade ago. To accommodate the newest sensor technology, system designs often require bigger heat sinks and fans, all of which add weight and translate to shorter mission times. choose the exact FPGA that fits an application based on the resources needed, such as I/O and logic. A single family, like Virtex from Xilinx, Inc., offers very small parts physically and in terms of resources on the silicon die, or fully loaded parts that are more expensive. This enables designers to scale within a family in terms of cost and performance. GPGPUs tend to be on the larger size with less variation in the functionality, making them less flexible and more difficult to match the application to the size of the processing device. This is especially important for small board designs where there is less real estate to devote to larger chips. Designers must clearly understand precisely what is needed for an application and for scalability before specifying a large, expensive chip with functionality that may not be fully utilized. GPGPUs, rich with built-in features, are easier to program than FPGAs. 28

COTS Journal | April 2012

NVIDIA devices use a language called CUDA (Compute Unified Device Architecture) that addresses a key weakness of FPGA parallel processing systems: the complexity of programming them. CUDA is the computing engine in NVIDIA graphics processing units (GPUs) that is accessible to software developers through industry standard programming languages. The CUDA architecture enables programmers to write programs in conventional computing languages to access the massively parallel processing capabilities of the GPU. Programmers use “C for CUDA,” which is C language with NVIDIA extensions, to write code to run on the GPUs. Contrarily, optimizing an FPGA typically requires one of two different hardware description languages (HDL), VHDL or Verilog. Both are complex and require the specialized expertise of digital logic designers, which adds cost and

often time to designs due to the scarcity of this class of professional. Additionally with FPGAs, all I/O and memory infrastructure IP must be added using these comparatively intricate languages. And while programming errors can be fixed in FPGAs, because of these HDLs and the added complexities of meeting timing constraints, etc., it can be a time-consuming process.

Specialized FPGA Programming The specialized programming of an FPGA can be broken into functional blocks, usually referred to as “cores.” Cores that perform common functions, such as data movement and signal processing, are often available in a prepackaged form from module vendors. If they are amenable to some customization, these cores can serve as application building blocks, streamlining the development process for developers. Prepackaged cores




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FPGAs vs. GPGPUs in Economic Terms The economic considerations of FPGAs vs. GPGPUs are critical design considerations, especially in an environment of increasing pressure to cut costs and ensure open, scalable solutions that extend program lifecycles for military applications. Of key concern is what vendors are doing to meet these increasing demands to make both FPGAs and GPGPUs viable economically during the entire program lifecycle including development, deployment and maintenance. In the defense market, the lifecycle of a program is a crucial consideration, especially with recent Defense Acquisition Reform initiatives. Primes are continually seeking solutions that will be readily available for 10 to 15 years or more, where platforms can be upgraded through straightforward technology insertions. With FPGAs this has not been an issue, as Altera and Xilinx have demonstrated with products whose lifecycles parallel military demands. With GPGPUs, it’s a different scenario as NVIDIA and AMD tend to release new and higher-performing devices every 9 months or so, and with supply longevities not exceeding three to five years. While this ensures that technology continues to advance, it is a double-edged sword for military applications and begs the question, “Will this technology still be around when it’s needed?” Traditionally, embedded computer vendors manage this challenge in one of three ways: stockpiling parts to ensure supply; arranging an escrow with customers who pay to have thousands of devices stored in bank vaults, or choosing families that are forward compatible to protect the software investment even though a hardware redesign may be required. Recognizing the opportunity in military applications and understanding that commercial silicon lifetimes do not support military deployment cycles, GPGPU vendors have recently started embedded groups specifically for lifecycle management of select parts. These programs focus on obsolescence planning and may include close partnerships with silicon vendors, frequent “health checks” on component availability, and storage of silicon following end of life (EOL). In terms of productivity, if a program manager at a defense prime has a limited internal R&D budget, GPGPUs are attractive because of their ease of programming and low tools costs as noted previously. However, FPGA programming is becoming increasingly more straightforward. Related to this is individual choice. Engineers tend to have an affinity for FPGAs or GPGPUs based on the company personnel and environment. If a company employs a significant number of digital logic design engineers who are familiar with hardware description languages, FPGAs may be the preferred choice. If, however, the team is more comfortable with C-level languages, the decision may favor GPGPUs. Often human nature plays a role even though it may not be the best overall design decision. This happens less often when the recurring costs far outweigh the development costs as in the case of very large deployment quantities.

can also be used to expand the tasks allocated to an FPGA, allowing them to operate as memory controllers or protocol engines. Exploiting this FPGA flexibility reduces the number of physical components within a subsystem design, reducing both cost and development time. Some companies are working on higher level abstraction languages that will enable programming in C or C++, and System Verilog, a unified hardware description and verification language (HDVL) standard that eases development and improves productivity. In addition, Simulink, developed by MathWorks as a 30

COTS Journal | April 2012

commercial tool for modeling, simulating and analyzing multidomain dynamic systems, has been adapted to work with FPGA programming via such tools as Xilinx’s System Generator. Simulink’s primary interface is a graphical block diagramming tool and a customizable set of block libraries that allow users to drag, drop and click to generate code. Even with tools like these, however, true optimization requires programming at the HDL level and the use of more difficult languages. As a corollary, FPGA programming tools are more expensive as well, averaging $15,000 to $75,000 per suite. Minimally,

Figure 2

With performance in the Teraflops range, the GSC6200 leverages the easy-to-upgrade MxM GPU form factor, enabling users to rapidly upgrade and deploy the latest and fastest GPUs. one entire suite of tools, including a synthesis engine, simulation and verification software and other tools, is required with additional seats of specific tools depending on the environment. With CUDA, all that is required is a laptop and a C Compiler, which can be downloaded at no or minimal cost.

Designed for Defense Applications Since FPGAs from companies like Xilinx and Altera are designed with the defense market in mind, the I/O can be programmed and redefined. In essence, when it comes to I/O, FPGAs are chameleon-like and can adapt to whatever is used or required by the designer. On the other hand, GPGPUs only use a single type of I/O—PCI Express (PCIe)—as they were originally designed for the PC graphics rendering market, not for military applications. Regardless of what I/O is desired, with GPGPUs, designers must use PCIe and all data must be converted to the PCIe fabric. Traditionally used only in gaming, GPGPUs are powerhouses in terms of performance and SWaP optimization. While consuming more power overall, they often replace multiple boards in a system, delivering a net performance gain from a system level perspective. GPGPUs also minimize board real estate because of their high performance per processor. In general, for applications that require multiple parallel mathematical operations, GPGPUs will


outperform CPUs, so fewer processors are needed to perform the same task. For traditional signal processing algorithms like the FFT (Fast Fourier Transform), GPGPUs provide unprecedented performance, specifically in terms of performance per watt. In UAV applications such as ISR, the increases in the compute capability that are offered by the use of GPGPUs have a direct relationship to more capable detection systems, increased UAV autonomy

and increased survivability. Decreases to the SWaP of the compute platform result in greater range, greater payload and greater loiter time.

Ideal for Image Processing GPGPUs excel at performing mathematical operations such as image processing on parallel data streams because GPGPUs are actually highly parallel, multicore mathematical processors with

Figure 3

The Echotek Series SCFE-V6-OVPX Virtex-6 FPGA Processing Engine supports three Virtex-6 FPGAs, two industry standard VITA-57 FMC sites and a Linux-based control processor. high-speed, on-off chip data accessâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; perfect for high-speed mathematical operand read and write. Since GPGPUs are better for repetitive complex floating point math applications, they are ideal for mosaicing, stitching together multiple images or data points to create a larger picture, which requires managing large data sets and highly parallel multiplication and addition. In FPGAs, the mathematics are implemented via fixed point computation, which results in a significant difference in terms of precision, directly affecting dynamic range. In terms of ISR sensors, this can be a life or death difference. For example, if a soldier is on a military platform 10 km from a target, very minute errors in terms of resolution may not matter. But at 30 km, a small error in math can mean the difference between 10 feet and 1,000 feet, which can spell disaster. Since floating point processing is associated with better precision mathematics, GPGPUs offer a sizable advantage over FPGAs in this realm. FPGAs, however, are better suited to working with the hundreds or even thousands of discrete control and sensor lines that are strewn across the warfighter such as the control lines emanating from an imaging gimbal on the bottom of an aircraft. From a development standpoint, specifically for rugged military applications, FPGAs are available in industrial and even in space-grade forms. To work with GPGPUs, which are not ruggedized Untitled-12 1 COTS Journal | April 2012 32

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or available for industrial operating temperatures, embedded computer designers like Mercury Computer Systems must devise encapsulation solutions. There’s also a cost issue to consider when comparing GPGPUs and FPGAs. The sidebar “FPGAs vs. GPGPUs in Economic Terms” goes into the details of those tradeoffs.

FPGA-GPGPU Synergy: Case Study Mercury Computer Systems was the first to tightly couple FPGAs and GPGPUs for heterogeneous computing in the embedded realm. The latest offerings, such as the SCFE-V6-OVPX Virtex-6 FPGA Processing Engine and the GSC6200 GPU Processing Module (Figure 2), leverage the latest generation form factor, OpenVPX VITA 65. Based on an actual defense program application, the following synergy play between FPGAs and GPGPUs is possible utilizing these high-performance modules over the OpenVPX backplane (Figure 3). The objective is to create an in-theatre, real-time spectrum monitor. In this instance, a wideband GHz analog-to-digital converter (ADC) is tightly coupled to a large Xilinx Virtex-6 FPGA. The output of the ADC includes dozens of LVDS pairs in addition to clocking and other control/status logic. All of this terminates into the FPGA, which not only handles the varying I/O, but the massive ingest rate as well. The FPGA then preprocesses (performing equalization and filtering) and buffers the data stream. IP logic is implemented in the FPGA to produce a PCI Express endpoint, PCI Express being necessary as this is the protocol that the GPGPU speaks. The FPGA performs a direct write of the datastream to the GPGPU, avoiding the store/forward proxy penalty of an Intel processor. This reduction in data latency is critical for many EW/SIGINT applications in terms of responsiveness to threats. Finally, the GPGPU is able to perform massive FFTs in a fraction of the time of any other device using floating point computation to preserve critical parameters such as dynamic range. By analyzing the frequency domain at this level of precision, small important signals can be discerned from much larger adjacent

channels, whereas they were masked and effectively invisible in the past. This application leverages the strengths of these extreme computational devices. A wide instantaneous bandwidth is captured and granulated to a very fine resolution, all in real time. This kind of precision enables the detection of lowprobability-of-intercept threat emitters in real time. Now, if the application incorporated multiple coherent ADC channels, direction finding techniques such as TDOA could be used to geolocate emitters in 3D space. Finally, this system could be used to cross-cue an imaging system to point an EO/IR focal-plane-array (FPA) to the suspected vicinity of the emitter. As it turns out, these imaging systems are also using FPGAs to terminate the digital ingress of data from the EO/IR FPA with processing once again being staged between the FPGA and a later stage GPGPU in a manner analogous to the wideband spectrum monitor. In this case, the GPGPU is processing image data measured in tera operations per second, and GPGPUs are as one might expect good at image processing.

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Hybrid Approach Offers Benefits Clearly both FPGAs and GPGPUs have distinct, complementary advantages for military applications, yet neither alone provides an optimal solution for a large subset of mission objectives. From a system level perspective, the advantages of each often outweigh using one over the other, when together they can harmoniously support an overall application. Therefore, rather than one technology subsuming another, the ultimate solution for many military applications, for the foreseeable future, is to use both in a hybrid solution. These systems will allow a developer’s specific signal processing or other algorithms to deploy effectively in a SWaP-constrained environment. The systems can be designed to tap into a firehouse of sensor I/O while executing many operations per second (OPS, FLOPs, Teraflops) of usable processing.

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April 2012 | COTS Journal


4/5/12 10:15:30 AM

TECH RECON Advances in Military Robotics

Ambitious Road Ahead for Military Robotics Technology Unmanned ground vehicles have done exemplary duty in the last decade. But as the DoD’s goals for UGVs align with military robotics technology advances, new sets of vital capabilities lay ahead. Jeff Child Editor-in-Chief


here’s no doubt military robots—or unmanned ground vehicles (UGV) as they’re more often called—have proven an incredibly valuable life-saving resource in combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. And while UGV technology has nowhere near matched the level of maturity that UAVs have, they’ve come a long way over the past several years. The DoD has acquired and deployed thousands of UGVs and support equipment since operations in Iraq and Afghanistan began. The systems support a diverse range of operations including maneuver, maneuver support and sustainment. Over 8,000 UGVs of various types have seen action in Iraq, and they have been deployed in more than 125,000 missions, including suspected object identification and route clearance, to locate and defuse improvised explosive devices (IEDs). During these counter-IED missions, Army, Navy and USMC explosive ordnance teams detected and defeated over 11,000 IEDs using UGVs. With an eye on the next phase of UGV capabilities, the DoD is working to ensure that the lessons collected on the battlefield are translated into programs that can be sustained. The last 36

COTS Journal | April 2012

Figure 1

At the Association of U.S. Army (AUSA) Winter show in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, COTS Journal’s Jeff Child is briefed on QinetiQ’s Modular Advanced Armed Robotic System (MAARS).


Figure 2

The 110 FirstLook from iRobot is a small, light and throwable robot with four built-in cameras, providing multi-direction situational awareness. Future capabilities include two-way audio communication and digital mesh networking, which will allow multiple robots to relay radio communications over greater distances. decade of rapid fielding and proliferation met the mission, but along the way configuration and maintenance challenges were many. The goals ahead for unmanned ground systems call for improvements in user interfaces, reliability, survivability, and advances in 360째 sensing, recording fidelity, and CBRN and explosive detection.

Multitasking UGV Platforms An example of state-of-the-art UGV technology is Modular Advanced Armed Robotic System (MAARS) from QinetiQ North America. MAARS (Figure 1) is designed for reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition (RSTA) missions to increase the security of personnel manning forward locations. The system enables the remote emplacement of RSTA sensors into critical locations up to several kilome38

COTS Journal | April 2012

ters away from the unit, providing early warning while enabling immediate response if required. MAARS can even provide multiple options for the escalation of force when required by the Rules of Engagement (ROE), from non-lethal laser dazzlers and audio deterrents, to less-than-lethal grenades, to lethal fires from the grenade launcher or the medium machine gun. Remotely controlled by an operator equipped with a lightweight, wearable control unit, MAARS features multiple onboard day and night cameras, motion detectors, an acoustic microphone, a hostile fire detection system, and a speaker system with a siren to provide optimum situational awareness and alarm. QinetiQ developed MAARS UGV through its partnership with various agencies in the Department of Defense.

UGV Success in IED Duties The most vital function played by UGVs over the last decade has been their use in detecting and defeating Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). As a result, procurement of those types of systems remains one of the most active. Along those lines, QinetiQ North America in January announced that its Dragon Runner 10 (DR10) was selected by the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization (JIEDDO) in response to a Joint Urgent Operations Needs Statement (JUONS) for lightweight, throwable robots. This order for more than 100 DR10 robots represents the first significant U.S. military procurement of this new class of robot. With multiple cameras and payload options, DR10 is suited for reconnaissance and surveillance missions to support small military units, patrols and


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Technology Enablers for Unmanned Ground Systems 2011










Capability Technology Capability Technology Capability Technology



Autonomous Navigation

estimated timeline

Adjustable Waypoints

Layered Planning

Appliqué Autonomy Kits

Object Detection & Tracking

Trust Consensus

Intelligent/Reactive Architectures Incremental Advancements in Navigation and Sensor Fusion (throughout)

Way Point Navigation


Formation Control/ Multi Robot

Retrofit Manned Vehicles w/Autonomous Behaviors IP Addressable Radio

MESH Networking/ Repeaters

Software Defined Radio

Opertations High Latency/ Low Bandwidth Environment Autonomous Safe Ops in Operations Urban Environments

Smart Antennae/ MIMO

Cognitive Radio Encryption Standards


Global Mesh Networking

Single Radio Increased Communication Range One Operator/Multiple Robot Comms Any Operator/ Communications Multiband/ Anit-Jamming/ Any Robot Comms Radio Diagnostics/Status Frequency Agile Radio Interference Suppression Reduced Latency, Improved Throughput

Improved Performance Li-Ion Technologies Hybrid Energy Storage

100W Fuel Cell Packaged Fuel

Fuel Cell Off Board Processed Bulk Fuels High Power Small Engines

Advanced Fuel Cell Tech JP-8 Reformation on Platform

Incremental Advancements in Power Management & Energy Harvesting (throughout)

Improved Duration & Reduced Signature

Longer Duration Silent Watch

Increase Service Life, Increase Energy Density

Incremental Improvements in Power and Energy Performance (throughout)

Figure 3

Next gen UGVs will need to leverage faster embedded computing systems, more efficient batteries and fuel cells, and software defined radio technologies.

first responder teams. At just over ten pounds, DR10 is small enough to carry in an assault pack and rugged enough to throw into buildings and hostile environments. DR10 can climb stairs, carry significant payloads and maintain effective wireless communication over long distances. DR10 is thrown or driven into potentially hostile environments to assess situations remotely, before committing personnel. DR10 provides rapid situational awareness with visual reports back to its operator using day and night sensors. With optional accessories, this modular robot can also carry out other critical missions such as delivering counter-IED charges and remote sensors. Multiple payloads are available, including a variety of sensors, radios, cameras and robotic arms. DR10 can be equipped with either tracked or wheeled mobility options to negotiate various types of terrain. 40

COTS Journal | April 2012

Meanwhile, last month iRobot received a $1.5 million order, funded by the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization (JIEDDO), for more than 100 of the company’s model 110 FirstLook robots. Since its introduction last year, the iRobot 110 FirstLook has undergone extensive testing and demonstration. FirstLook (Figure 2) is a small, light and throwable robot. It is ideal for a wide range of infantry and special operations missions, including building clearing, raids and other close-in scenarios. With four built-in cameras, FirstLook provides multi-direction situational awareness while keeping the operator out of harm’s way. FirstLook weighs just five pounds, it is robust enough to survive 15-foot drops, overcomes obstacles as high as seven inches and automatically self-rights when flipped over. Future capabilities include two-way audio communication and digital mesh net-

working, which will allow multiple robots to relay radio communications over greater distances.

Technology Enabler Roadmaps Looking ahead to the next phase of UGVs, the DoD—specifically the Robotics System Joint Project Office (RS JPO)— has identified a number of technology areas that apply to advances in ground robotics and have laid out roadmaps to how they align to next generation robotics capabilities. According to the RS JPO, the top nine UGV technology enablers are autonomous navigation, communication, power, vision, architecture, soldier machine interface, manipulation, terrain mobility and payloads. By developing, procuring, integrating and fielding unmanned ground systems, the RS JPO hopes to encourage and focuses further developments of these technologies and enhancements. Figure 3 and Figure 4

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Technology Enablers for Unmanned Ground Systems (continued) 2011










Capability Technology Capability Technology Capability Technology




estimated timeline

1024x768 IR

Stereographic Imaging/Display Tech/ Improved Software Visible/IR Fusion 1920x1080 IR

On-Chip Image Enhancement Increased Range Performance

Increased Awarness in All Light Conditions

Stereoscopic Processing

Depth Perception/ 3D Data Collection

Image Search/ Object Identification

Human-like Visual Cognitive Understanding

Incremental Improvements in Image Analysis & Range Performance

Open Architecture, Accepted Specification/Standards

Industry Provides Open Common Architecture Government Mandated Common Open Architecture

UGV/UAS Shared Situational Awareness One Operator/ Information and Plan Sharing One Robot Control Across All UGVs Visual/IR/Thermal/ Stereo Cameras Low Cost LIDAR

UWB Radar

Fuel Cells/Generators

Limited 3-D Supervised World Building Autonomy

Persistent State

UGV Common UGV Cross Domain Controller Domain Controller Improved Teaming w/in Domain, Coordinated Activities Across Collaboration Across Domains Multiple Dissimilar US RAMAN Spectroscopy

Non-Lethal/Lethal Weapon Systems

Offensive Missions

Brain-Computer Interfaces

Greatly Increased Control

Full-Autonomy Packages Autonomous Operations

Incremental Improvements in Versatility & Modularity

Figure 4

Next gen UGVs will need to leverage open architecture computing platforms, advanced integrated camera subsystems, and compact LIDAR and Radar technologies.

show the roadmaps of some of the key technology enablers and how they align with goals for future UGV systems. Embedded computing, communications and power technologies and products are expected to provide key building blocks for those next gen UGV designs.

Complexity of Communications Communications is one of the more complex areas for UGVs. Until recently, most unmanned systems utilized several radios: one for data, one for video, and sometimes one for voice. Because of congestion, frequency competition and regulatory challenges in several theaters, many of these communication systems were redesigned to operate at higher frequencies. However, use of these higher frequencies reduced the operational effectiveness in dense foliage and urban areas. In a UGV, the communications link is a subsystem of the UGV that passes data 42

COTS Journal | April 2012

between the operator control unit (OCU) and the robot processor. This is accomplished via wireless radio link or a tether. Tether communications is accomplished either over a fiber-optic cable or twisted wire, with the former being more common for UGVs as it is less susceptible to Radio Frequency (RF) jammed environments. Current UGV systems use a closed loop link that does not share information with other networks. The OCU transmits commands and audio to the robot while the robot transmits status messages, video and audio. Many of the currently available UGVs use radios that are highly integrated into the robot architecture. These radios are generally limited to a frequency band (sometimes to a single frequency channel). Due to interference concerns and incompatibility with Counter Remote Control Improvised Explosive Device (RCIED) Electronic Warfare (CREW),

many of the fielded Army and USMC UGV assets have undergone communication radio system upgrades to new frequency bands. Government and Industry have recently created radio technologies to increase range, networking capabilities and RF flexibility. Many small robots and OCUs, by their nature, have low antenna heights that make radio links susceptible to multipath fading, and thereby drastically reduce radio link range and reliability.

Networking UGVs In order to create more interoperable networks, UGV radios will need to support multiple waveforms and span wider frequency ranges. The continued enhancement of SDR and Smart Antenna technologies will increase the multiband capability and range of radios. These technologies will enable


the radio to suppress interference or RF jamming while improving desired signal levels. These enhancements will promote Cognitive Radio (CR) technology that will adapt to the RF environment by selecting the best modulation format and frequency to support the information being relayed. On the future battlefield, UGVs will multi-cast images securely to troops and be capable of relaying data from one asset to another through a dynamic network of nodes and relays. Operators will also have the capability to assign control of payloads to secondary operators. Further down the road UGV wireless communications will connect to the Global Information Grid (GIG) network and will be ubiquitous, enabling users to use their cell phones to control a robot from distant locations anywhere. The Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) will provide wireless connectivity and interoperability for ground mobile, man portable, maritime and airborne forces operating within the GIG. The JTRS Handheld/ Manpack/Small Form Fit (HMS) program provides embedded communication that is targeted to support devices like the SUGV (Small UGV).

Not to be Overlooked: Power Systems Power is another vital technology area affecting UGV capabilities. In fact, power can make or break some of the sought after capabilities desired for future UGVs. Current UGVs require energy dense, rechargeable and reliable power sources in order to efficiently operate. These power sources must satisfy the size and weight constraints of the host platform, and they must satisfy a broad set of environmental and safety requirements. A set of power technologies might also be hybridized to better match a UGV Use Profile. Such technologies will enable robots to conduct persistent stare and silent watch operations. A significant amount of research and development in both Government and Industry have been devoted to the areas of energy storage, fuel cells and small internal combustion engines. Today, small UGVs derive power almost exclusively from Li-Ion batter-

ies. Rechargeable Lithium Ion batteries have a wide military acceptance on small UGVs, and have been replacing the use of Lead Acid and Nickel Cadmium batteries. As a result of the switch to Lithium Ion batteries, mission duration and mission standby times for small UGVs have increased. Power technologies for medium UGVs have largely been derived from the commercial engine markets and tend to use gasoline and/or ultra low sulfur diesel fuels.

Advances in Fuel Cell Technology In the near-term, Lithium-chemistry batteries are expected to continue to experience incremental improvements in power and energy performance. Meanwhile fuel cells will enhance and reinforce battery usage and may eventually serve as a replacement for batteries on small UGVs. While current fuel cell technology for UGVs focuses on packaged fuels (such as propane), future technologies will enable the use of JP-8 fuel, reducing the Army’s logistical burden. With the development and implementation of better power management technologies, UGVs will be able to increase the efficiency of existing power sources. Vision provided on ground robotics is comprised of the imaging sensor, lighting, optics and the OCU display. Imaging sensors operate in visible spectrum, near infrared (NIR) and in thermal infrared. Visible and NIR imaging sensors use standard COTS silicon charged coupled device (CCD) or complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS) technology, and are widely available at low cost. With selective filtering, the same sensor can provide both visible and NIR images. Lights are generally included for additional illumination above ambient. Thermal imaging sensors use specialized focal plane arrays that respond to the longer wavelengths of thermal energy. While these systems are lower in resolution and much more expensive (7x to 10x) than their visible and NIR counterparts, thermal sensors provide the advantage of being able to see images obscured to visible sensor systems (such as in fog, smoke,

dust and complete darkness). Optics and lenses are used to focus the image onto the sensor and provide zoom capabilities for user adjustments to the field of view (FoV) and magnification of the image. Images acquired by the camera systems on the robot are compressed and sent over the data link to the OCU, where they can be viewed by the robot operator. Improved imaging is expected to be achieved with the integration of evolutionary technology developments mostly driven by the commercial and industrial sectors. H.264 advanced video encoding developed for Blu-Ray and other high definition video reduces the bit rate requirement for wireless transmission. This video compression methodology enables an increased number of pixels for more image detail or wider fields of view (including 360° images). With continued advancement and increased commonality of visible and infrared technologies, significant opportunities exist to fuse information from multiple spectral bands to increase situational awareness. Sensor fusion represents a major milestone in robotic vision that has broad application on both robots and manned platforms.

Leveraging Other Markets As the roadmaps for the UGV technology enablers show, there’s a wide and long road ahead for UGV development. To advance to meet the goals for tomorrow’s warfighters, UGV system developers will need to gather and exploit technology building blocks and advances from a wide range of commercial industries— from consumer to industrial to automotive. Fortunately, the automation and robotic advances in other markets is not only very active as well, but are driving the technology in many aspects. Computing technology combined with innovative mechanical designs are providing advances in areas like UGV robotic arm manipulation and robotic suspension control. For a video demo of DARPA’s Autonomous Robotic Manipulation (ARM) Phase 1 and a video of DARPA’s Robotic Suspension System M3 Program go to www.cotsjournalonline. com/darpa. April 2012 | COTS Journal


SYSTEM DEVELOPMENT Harsh Environment Testing for Boards and Enclosures

EMI Shielding for Enclosures Calls for Application-Specific Thinking There’s a special art to designing the proper EMI shielding for a system. Because every scenario is unique, getting the adequate protection means a lot of custom modifications to enclosures. Joel Young, Engineer Crenlo


oday’s military is more reliant than ever on electronics. Along with that, the need to protect those electronics from potential threats has become all the more vital. One such threat—electromagnetic interference (EMI)—has the ability to interrupt or even destroy the functionality of unprotected electronics. Meanwhile the EMI radiated by military electronics can distribute an unwanted signal that could put covert military personnel at risk of being located. By properly shielding electronics, however, susceptibility to these threats can be drastically reduced. Because every scenario is unique, getting the adequate protection more often than not necessitates the development of custom or modified enclosures rather than the use of an offthe-shelf product. For purchasing agents and systems integrators serving the military market, it’s essential to have a good understanding of what to look for in an enclosure in order to ensure electronics will be adequately protected. Specifically, a buyer should be educated in three key areas: standards governing EMI, enclosure testing procedures and enclosure design considerations. 44

COTS Journal | April 2012

Standards Governing EMI The military has long been aware of the effects of electromagnetic interference and has taken proper precautions to shield electronics. Often bases use shielded rooms to house the bulk of their network equipment. In mobile settings, smaller, transportable, shielded enclosures have been used to protect individual components for nearly 80 years. Since the first military standard governing EMI shielding was introduced in the 1930s, new standards—both commercial and military—have arisen at nearly the same rate at which technology has evolved during this time. Today, the list of industry and military-related standards governing EMI shielding requirements and testing procedures is long enough to fill an entire library. The military alone has developed regulations and revisions to those regulations hundreds of times, and in addition to the military, organizations such as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) have all created their own standards.


Conducted Emissions (CE) CE101 Power leads, 30 Hz to 10 kHz CE102 Power leads, 10 kHz to 10 MHz CE106 Antenna terminal, 10 kHz to 40 GHz Conducted Susceptibility (CS) CS101 Power leads, 30 Hz to 150 kHz CS103 Antenna port, intermodulation, 15 kHz to 10 GHz CS104 Antenna port, rejection of undesired signals, 30 Hz to 20 GHz CS105 Antenna port, cross-modulation, 30 Hz to 20 GHz CS106 Transients, power leads CS109 Structure current, 60 Hz to 100 kHz CS114 Bulk cable injection, 10 kHz to 200 MHz CS115 Bulk cable injection, impulse excitation CS116 Damped sinusoidal transients, cables and power leads, 10 kHz to 100 MHz Radiated Emissions (RE) RE101 Magnetic field, 30 Hz to 100 kHz RE102 Electric field, 10 kHz to 18 GHz RE103 Antenna spurious and harmonic outputs, 10 kHz to 40 GHz Radiated Susceptibility (RS) RS101 Magnetic field, 30 Hz to 100 kHz RS103 Electric field, 2 MHz to 40 GHz RS105 Transient electromagnetic field

Figure 1

MIL-STD-461 testing involves measuring an enclosure’s ability to shield from all four scenarios: conducted emissions (CE), conducted susceptibility (CS), radiated emissions (RE) and radiated susceptibility (RS). Those tests are summarized here.

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RE101 RE102 RE103 Radiated Susceptibility (RS) RS101 RS103 RS105


Radiated Emissions (RE)


Conducted Susceptibility

CE101 CE102 CE106 Conducted Emissions (CE)

REQUIRED TESTS PER INSTALLATION LOCATION Surface ship Submarine Army aircraft Navy aircraft Air Force aircraft Space systems/launch vehicles Army, ground-based Navy, ground-based Air Force, ground-based

CS101 CS103 CS104 CS105 CS106 CS109 CS114 CS115 CS116









LEGEND: A = Applicable L = Limited as specified in the individual sections of the standard P = Procuring activity must specify in procurement documentation Blank = Not required

Figure 2

The table shows which installation scenarios require whichof the tests. There’s a lot of variation in the required testing procedures based on the location of installation, so shielding requirements are basically application-specific. The abundance of these commercial and military EMI standards gives little meaning to an off-the-shelf enclosure being marketed in generalities such as “military-grade” or “shielded.” These terms could mean many different things, and often, the shielded enclosures of yesteryear are no longer adequate to protect against today’s higher level of EMI threats. Not only is this true from one standard to another, but also between enclosures in compliance with different versions of the same standard.

MIL-STD-461 Let’s take MIL-STD-461 as an example, because it is one of the most widely used and far-reaching EMI military standards in use today. The standard was originally published in 1967 as a way of consolidating dozens of other standards governing EMI shielding of electronics. As technology has evolved and created even more installation and technology scenarios, the standard has also evolved, going through a series of revisions from A through F, most recently coming to be known as MIL-STD-461F in 2007. To complicate matters further, attenuation level requirements and testing procedures can vary greatly within the same version of the same standard based on where the electronics will be installed. For example, an enclosure marketed as “shielded” may meet the 46

COTS Journal | April 2012

MIL-STD-461F requirements for a ground-based Air Force installation, but may not meet the requirements for a Navy ship installation. Furthermore, necessary testing requirements for compliance are often specified by the person procuring the enclosure, and therefore, are very application-specific. Let’s further explore the testing procedures behind MIL-STD-461F to demonstrate these points.

Testing Procedures The goal of any shielding is to protect from one or both of two things—emitted EMI and susceptibility to outside EMI. EMI can be either conducted through materials, or it can be radiated from a source and distributed through the air. As such, the goal of MIL-STD-461 testing is to measure an enclosure’s ability to shield from all four scenarios: conducted emissions (CE), conducted susceptibility (CS), radiated emissions (RE) and radiated susceptibility (RS). MIL-STD-461F outlines several tests for each of these concerns, shown in Figure 1. In general, these tests are conducted on an enclosure with the use of a signal generator. When testing susceptibility, the signal generator is located outside the enclosure, and measurements are taken within the enclosure to determine its shielding effectiveness from outside interference. On the other hand, when

testing for emissions, the signal generator is located inside the enclosure, and measurements are taken outside the enclosure to measure its shielding effectiveness of emissions. Not all of these tests are necessary for each installation scenario, which is why an enclosure could be in compliance with MIL-STD-461F in one installation, but if installed in another location, may not be. Figure 2 shows which installation scenarios require each of the tests. As shown, there is a fair amount of variation in the required testing procedures based on the location of installation, so it is safe to say that shielding requirements are application-specific, and thus, enclosure design should also be application-specific. Regardless of application, however, there are basic design characteristics that differentiate a standard, off-the-shelf enclosure from a custom, highly shielded enclosure. Understanding these design characteristics is important in selecting an enclosure manufacturer with adequate design and manufacturing capabilities.

Enclosure Design Considerations Any closed box could be considered “shielded” to some extent—even a lunch box—but to achieve the level of shielding needed to meet the stringent requirements of standards such as MIL-STD-461F, an enclosure must be sealed to the extent that signal leakage is nil. The ideal EMI cabinet would be a metal box with no seams or openings, but unfortunately, that’s not possible due to the need for access to the equipment inside. Thus, a very high level of attention must be given to welding and materials selection. The typical welding methods associated with the fabrication of an off-theshelf enclosure—spot and arc welding— are not adequate to form a sealed EMI cabinet. These methods leave the potential for gaps where unwanted frequencies can escape or enter the enclosure. A manufacturer chosen to develop a highly shielded enclosure should have extensive welding capabilities to form a fully welded seal. This sometimes necessitates chill-blocking to maintain the structural


integrity of the enclosure from the excessive heat on the frame associated with a continuous weld.

Importance of Materials Equally important are the materials used in the enclosure. All mating materials, such as the doors and gaskets to the frame, must be connected electrically in order to maintain conductivity. An effectively designed EMI enclosure will form a Gaussian sphere, in which all the unwanted energy from EMI is absorbed and conducted throughout the materials of the enclosure, effectively shielding the outside from the inside. These can be the same materials or different, but if different conductive materials are used, they must be galvanically compatible in order to protect against galvanic corrosion and the resulting loss of conductivity. The frame of the enclosure, along with all of the optional bolt-on components, should be plated per specification ASTM-B633, which calls for electrodeposited zinc plating with a clear chromate conversion coating. All surfaces that mate with the EMI gasket should be masked prior to painting, and a highly conductive, galvanically compatible wire mesh gasket should be used with the optional components to provide necessary EMI shielding around the access openings (Figure 3). As with testing procedures, materials selection should be application-specific, because while one material may be wellsuited for a certain operating environment, it may not be for another. For instance, beryllium copper fingerstock may provide great shielding for office requirements, but would not hold up well to dust or dripping liquids in an industrial or military environment without a secondary gasket.

Custom Design Issues More often than not, an enclosure needs to be built per scenario, to fit the exact technology, the footprint of installation and meet any necessary military or commercial standards. This generally goes far beyond EMI standards, often requiring a number of other harshenvironment considerations, including

Figure 3

A highly conductive, galvanically compatible wire mesh gasket is used to provide necessary EMI shielding around the access openings.

OceanServer Digital Compass Products:

shock and vibration, corrosion protection and more. MIL-STD-461F is merely one example of how there can be significant variations in testing requirements between one application and the next. Many other military EMI standards exist and are in use today to address threats such as electromagnetic pulses (EMP) and high-altitude electromagnetic pulses (HEMP). Standards such as MIL-STD-188 and MIL-STD-464 offer guidelines for highly shielded enclosures, and as with MIL-STD-461F, testing procedures and necessary attenuation levels differ by type of electronics and area in which they are installed. No matter which standards must be met, selecting an enclosure manufacturer with the ability to modify existing offthe-shelf products or build completely custom solutions is the key to ensuring military electronics are adequately shielded from EMI and other harsh environmental factors. Crenlo Rochester, MN. (507) 289-3371. [].

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SYSTEM DEVELOPMENT Harsh Environment Testing for Boards and Enclosures

Signal Integrity and OpenVPX Backplane Architecture Trends The era of OpenVPX promises new levels of backplane bandwidths feeding the needs of advanced military systems. But these new speed levels require careful attention to signal integrity and how they relate to various signaling protocols. Michael Munroe, Technical Specialist Elma Electronic


ew OpenVPX backplane profiles that are defined in Release 2 of VITA 65 provide for more elaborate expansion plane architectures and new clocking schemes to support the anticipated PCIe Gen 3 requirements. Implementing 10GBASEKR, 40GBASE-KR4 Ethernet and PCIe Gen 3 will take VPX far beyond the 3.1 Gbaud channels originally specified when VITA 46.0 was released in October of 2007. These new signaling protocols extend significantly the three levels of bandwidth defined when VITA 65 was released in June of 2010. The requirements for implementing faster VPX electrical channels are found in the VITA 68 document currently being developed. The initial release of VITA 68 will not address PCIe Gen 3, but will support 10GBASE-KR and 40GBASEKR4 signaling. Companies like Elma Electronic are anticipating these requirements and developing test fixtures capable of making compliance measurements in excess of 12 Gbaud.

OpenVPX and VITA 68 At the time of its release in June 2010, the fastest signaling protocol anticipated by ANSI-VITA 65 was DDR sRIO at 48

COTS Journal | April 2012

IEEE P802.3bj 100G working group 25 Gbits/s/lane OIF CEI 3.0 25-28 Gbits/s InfiniBand FDR 14 Gbits/s OIF CEI 2.0 11 Gbits/s IEE 802.3-2008 10GBase-KR 10 Gbits/s PCIe 3 8 Gbits/s sRIO DDR 6.25 Gbits/s PCIe 2.1 5 Gbits/s 10GBase-KX4 3.125 Gbits/s/lane XAUI 3.125 Gbits/s PCIe 1.0 2.0 Gbits/s 1000Base-KX 1.0 Gbit/s 1000Base-T 622 Mbits/s Figure 1

Listed here are the currently supported VPX signaling protocols as well as recently documented protocols that are even faster. 6.25 Gbaud. Since that date, the embedded industry has witnessed the release of a number of new specifications that document signaling protocols that significantly surpass 6.25 Gbaud. Although ANSI-VITA 65 R2012, which was just released at the end of February, goes no further, the document to which all released

VPX standards now point for electrical channel compliance is poised to support additional protocols with bandwidths up to 10.3 Gbaud. The protocols that are likely to be supported in the final release of VITA 68 include: Ethernet at 10.3 Gbaud (IEEE 802.3-2008: 10GBASE-KR and




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What Is Gbaud? VITA 46, 65 and 68 all consistently use Gbaud to refer to the data rate. Gbaud refers to the number of symbols per second. This will differ from gross bit rate, which is sometimes greater and sometimes less depending upon the encoding method.


Data Rate per lane

Primary Method Comment connector


25-28 Gbits/s

Pulse response


IEEE 802.3bj

25 Gbits/s

S-parameter, BER


InfiniBand FDR

14 Gbits/s

Eye pattern, BER


PICMG 3.1 r2

10 Gbits/s

S-parameter, BER


PCIe Gen 3

8 Gbits/s

Eye Pattern

Desktop PC

sRIO 2.2

6.25 Gbits/s

Pulse Response


cPCI Exp0 r2

5.0 Gbits/s

Eye Patterns


PCIe Gen 2

5.0 Gbits/s

Eye Patterns

Desktop PC

Figure 2

Contrasted here are the different methods of channel definition used by popular communication standards. Also indicated is whether the standard defines a single channel implementation or if it is written to be media independent—meaning there is no specific connector system required. 10GBASE-KR4); PCIe at 5.0 Gbaud (PCI-SIG: PCIe 2.1); and sRIO at 6.25 Gbaud (Serial Rapid IO: sRIO 2.1 DDR). Of these, the two Ethernet protocols— both at 10.3 Gbaud—are expected to be the fastest supported in a release this year. As promising as these advances are within VITA, the embedded industry as a whole is moving even faster. The chart in Figure 1 shows the currently supported VPX signaling protocols as well as recently documented protocols that are even faster.

Faster Protocols Of these faster protocols, the most obvious omission is probably PCIe 3.0, at 8 GigaTransfers/s. Although this protocol may appear to be less ambitious than 10GBASE-KR Ethernet, the jitter specification for PCIe is thought to be harder to meet than the defined channel requirements for 10 Gbaud Ethernet. Though not as well known, the Optical Internetworking Forum has released a series of electrical channel specifications that support the electrical interconnect requirements of op50

COTS Journal | April 2012

tical devices. These requirements are found in their Common Electrical Interface (CEI) – Electrical and Jitter Interoperability Agreements. The most recent document supports individual channels to 25-28 Gbit/s. Recently, the InfiniBand Trade Association added InfiniBand FDR at 14 Gbit/s to their roadmap. The specification is still in development, but sources close to that effort suggest that a summer release is possible. Mellanox already released silicon last June that supports the anticipated InfiniBand FDR data rates as well as Ethernet at the 10GBASEKR data rate of 10.3 Gbit/s. Not to be outdone, the IEEE 802.3 Ethernet Committee recently advanced from Study Group to Working Group Status 802.3bj; this is an effort aimed at putting channels, each comprised of four 25 Gbit/s on backplanes. The result will be 100 Gbit/s copper channels.

Complications One unfortunate aspect of these various channel requirement documents that complicates the task of sup-

porting them all in a single VITA document, is that the various relevant trade associations and standards groups do not all define their respective channels using the same metrics. For VITA, a second factor complicating the establishment of backplane channel requirements is that several of the above mentioned documents are “media independent,” meaning that they are general requirements that do not call out a specific physical implementation. The table in Figure 2 contrasts the different methods of channel definition used by popular communication standards. Also indicated is whether the standard defines a single channel implementation or if it is written to be media independent—meaning there is no specific connector system required. For VITA, this means that since many of the source documents are not written around a specific backplane and daughter card connector combination, it is up to the judgment of the VITA 68 committee as to how to divide the already meager noise margins between the backplane and daughter card portion of the electrical channel. It is generally agreed that at least one such segment of the entire channel must be defined within a VITA document so that engineers can make the necessary assumptions to design products that can be expected to interoperate over a given electrical channel.

VITA 68 to the Rescue An important aspect of the VITA 68 channel standard will be establishing specific requirements that will ensure compliance for each defined electrical channel. To accomplish this, the committee must first become convinced that a compliant channel is possible. To this end, the committee is also defining in parallel a Statement of Work (SOW) that will include the necessary simulations that will reveal whether each set of channel requirements can be met with a reasonable allowance for necessary manufacturing tolerances. It would not be acceptable if the channel requirements could only be met with only a single set of channel


parameters. Therefore, if an impedance range on the daughter card were to be 90 to 110 ohms and a similar range for the backplane, it needs to be demonstrated through simulation that a backplane with an impedance of 90 ohms will â&#x20AC;&#x153;playâ&#x20AC;? with a daughter card channel impedance of 110 ohms at the interface. Similar tolerances need to be established for all other parameters such as line to line skew within a pair, via stub length and device eye height.

Organizational Issues Final decisions on these various issues will be resolved during the course of the simulations being defined by the VITA 68 SOW. A separate limited liability corporation (LLC) is being planned to provide a funding mechanism for the anticipated simulation effort. The VITA member companies that join this funding effort will likely be offered a number of special advantages as an inducement to support this effort. This includes direct involvement with the chosen simulation vendor during the project. It also means access to the full simulation report up to a year in advance to the reportâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s release to the general VITA membership. Only the figures necessary for inclusion within VITA 68 would be shared with all committee members initially. Also provided are Channel s-parameter files can be used to reproduce the simulation results and to complete simulations for other possible collections of channel parameters. These advantages could be very helpful both to companies producing cards that will plug into an OpenVPX backplane as well as those integrating cards from several different companies into a single system. These files will allow engineers to create a virtual system environment that will allow the behavior of a specific card set to be examined. Companies could create these models on their own, but being part of the LLC will save their signal integrity engineers valuable time. Even companies looking to offer new components such as rugged connectors can save a great deal of time by making use of these channel sets and then simply

Figure 3

Backplane test fixtures are not unique to the VITA 65 and VITA 68 standardization effort. A similar approach has been used in the AdvancedTCA architecture. Shown here is a set of test cards being used to measure an ATCA backplane.

25 Gbits/s 14 Gbits/s

Decision feedback equalizers DFE Forward error correction FEC

10 Gbits/s 8 Gbits/s 5 Gbits/s 3 Gbits/s

Back-drilling vias (backplane) Improved connectors, smaller vias (proposed) Better PCB Materials - Rogers, Nelco, Matsushita Silicon tech - Passive and active signal conditioning Silicon technology - Multi-level encoding Design tools - S-Parameter Characterization Design tools - 3D Field Solvers

Figure 4

Charted here are the many different methods that have been used to increase the bandwidth of system channels.

replacing the existing connector models with new ones to determine if the channel still performs as required.

VITA 68 Measurements In addition to the simulation of all the various defined channels and the

modeling of the required layer stack-up, the VITA 68 Statement of Work is also expected to include the definition of a set of backplane test cards, which can be used to measure all the backplane channel parameters. The test cards should capture backplane channel s-parameter files. The April 2012 | COTS Journal



test cards should also provide structures to enable de-embedding, which will allow the extraction of the backplane portion of the measurements from the full channel measurements. Backplane test fixtures are not unique to the VITA 65 and VITA 68 standardization effort. A similar approach has been used in the AdvancedTCA

architecture. Figure 3 shows such a set of test cards being used to measure an AdvancedTCA backplane. This sort of test card is usually constructed of PCB laminates, which are lower loss than those used in the backplane that they measure. The SMA connectors and cables used to connect to the test cards are also chosen to exceed the required


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Untitled-9 1 COTS Journal | April 2012 52

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performance of the backplane being measured. In the example in Figure 3, the PCB material is Rogers 4350, and the SMA connectors are qualified by the manufacturer for a bandwidth of up to 25 Gbit/s.

A Variety of Methods As shown in Figure 4, there are many different methods that have been used to increase the bandwidth of system channels. Modeling and simulation of channels allows engineers to evaluate the relationship between trace geometry, layer arrangements and stubs to the desired channel parameters. These techniques also allow different components to be considered and evaluated. The communication silicon also provides a variety of tools to achieve higher signaling rates. These techniques include different encoding methods, passive and active equalization, as well as forward error correction. Improved PCB laminates that have lower losses as well as different glass fiber weaves enable faster signaling by reducing losses and while at the same time reducing signal skew. The most striking aspect of the backplane speed challenge is that every time a limit appears, new materials, new design tools and new silicon technology intercedes and enables faster signaling. System I/O may move to optical solutions earlier where it is desirable to match backplane speeds over longer distances outside the box. With the advantages of lower weight, less EMI susceptibility and greater distances, I/O systems can immediately take advantage of optical hardware. However, for backplane base systems, it appears that technology is continuing to extend the life of backplane solutions for the present time. New interconnects and new PCB materials may be required, but channel speeds of 14 to 25 Gbit/s now seem a distinct possibility where only a few years ago they seemed highly unlikely. Elma Electronic Fremont, CA. (510) 656-3400. [].

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TECHNOLOGY FOCUS Rugged Ethernet Switch Boards

Rugged Ethernet Switch Boards Blend Fabric and Network Roles Ethernet is becoming entrenched as a favorite interconnect fabric in compute-intensive applications like sonar, radar or any application that networks sensor arrays together. Jeff Child Editor-in-Chief


t one time Ethernet was viewed as just a pure networking solution for command and control systems in the military. Today Ethernet is gaining traction in numerous other military applications as an interconnect fabric in compute-intensive applications. Ethernet could arguably be called the military’s favorite interconnect fabric in compute-intensive applications like sonar, radar or any application that networks sensor arrays together. Military system designers can leverage the marriage of Ethernet with embedded computing form factors like OpenVPX, VME, VXS, Compact PCI Serial, XMC and PMC. For its part, OpenVPX is emerging as the newest choice for Ethernetbased switched networking in rugged, harsh environment military applications. OpenVPX offers the advantage of high-performance computing in limited size, weight and power platforms where extreme ruggedness and harsh environment operation are 54

COTS Journal | April 2012

Figure 1

G-BOSS is a tower-mounted, cameraoriented tool that provides a 24-hour day/night detection, tracking and recording capability to disrupt insurgent emplacement and employment of improvised explosive devices (IEDs). required—everything from military combat vehicle systems to UAVs to tactical aircraft avionics. As 10 Gbit Ethernet networking became mainstream in the commercial world, the military has tapped it as a high-speed data transfer mechanism for demanding military sensor interfacing and processing The large bandwidth and exceptional scalability of the 10 Gbit Ethernet network enables systems developers to seamlessly scale up with increasing channel count and bandwidth. It offers a standards-based server solution that takes advantage of processing power gain and market pressures for

driving down processing costs. The 10 Gbit Ethernet network simplifies system architecture and provides easy partitioning of data acquisition and data processing, by separating the sensitive analog mixed signal front end from the digital back end. Use of Ethernet allows simplified acquisition devices to be placed near the antenna that pipes the data to processing platforms in a sheltered location. Virtually limitless synchronized scalability is possible by simply adding fibers for additional 10 Gbit Ethernet links. A 10 Gbit Ethernet system also handles realtime bandwidth in excess of GHz on a continuous and sustained basis. There’s also a seamless increase of processing power in the future for providing feature upgrade without re-architecting the entire system. In an example of board-level Ethernet switch technology used in the military, Curtiss-Wright Controls has received a contract from Sechan Electronics to provide its rugged VME DMV-682 Gigabit Ethernet Switch card for use in the Ground Based Operational Surveillance System (G-BOSS) Electronics Payload Interface Box (EPIB) for the U.S. Marine Corps. The G-BOSS (Figure 1) surveillance system comprises a self-erecting, trailer-mounted tower that provides a stable, elevated platform for its “beyond the fence” sensor suite and communication devices. G-BOSS is an expeditionary, camera-oriented tool that provides a 24hour day/night detection, tracking and recording capability to disrupt insurgent emplacement and employment of improvised explosive devices (IEDs).


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Ethernet Switch Boards Roundup 10 Gbit Ethernet XMC Provides Dual Front Panel Interfaces Both as a network technology and as a fabric interconnect scheme, the military has completely embraced Ethernet. With that in mind, AdvancedIO Systems offers the V1121, a conduction-cooled 10 Gbit Ethernet (10GbE) XMC module with dual front-panel optical

interfaces. The V1121 brings the benefits of open standards-based connectivity to real-time, high-bandwidth applications operating in harsh physical environments where long cable runs or challenging electromagnetic interference (EMI) concerns preclude the use of copper-based interconnects. The V1121’s programmability, supported by AdvancedIO’s ExpressXG FPGA framework, enables the integration of application and preprocessing functionality directly into the 10GbE fat pipe. This capability solves challenging connectivity bottlenecks that would occur in more traditional architectures where this tight integration is not possible. While found in many types of highperformance real-time systems, these bottlenecks are particularly prevalent in demanding C4ISR applications including situational awareness, SIGINT and network security. Built with a Xilinx Virtex-5 FPGA, it shares the same architecture as other field-proven AdvancedIO 10GbE products. The V1121 also has two SFP+ optical 10GbE interfaces, independent large banks of memory for buffering packets, and additional interfaces to facilitate synchronization and time stamping. The module interfaces to the host fabric via PCI Express. Air-cooled versions are also available.

AdvancedIO Systems Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (604) 331-1600. [].


COTS Journal | April 2012

Conduction-Cooled PMC Ethernet Switch Card Targets Avionics Applications A new 10-port managed/ unmanaged Ethernet switch PMC for embedded use in the aerospace and defense industries features advanced management functions, health monitoring, onboard magnetics and an

integrated Ethernet controller (NIC). The MPR-ES-1 from Ballard Technology includes two Gbit ports and eight 10/100 Mbit/s ports. One Gbit port routes directly to the integrated Ethernet controller and provides the host computer with a direct connection to the switch for easy system expansion. The second Gbit port can act either as a straight 1 Gbyte path for the host single board computer, as a highspeed uplink to other switches, or as a standard 10/100/1000 Mbit/s port. The CCPMC form factor allows easy integration with modern embedded computers, including VME, VME64, cPCI and VPX systems. The MPR-ES-1 combines an advanced Marvell switch controller with onboard magnetics for high performance and reliable operation. It provides IEEE 802.1X MAC-based authentication and support for up to 8K MAC address entries with automatic learning and aging. Management functions include VLAN, QoS and ingress/egress limiting. In addition, the switch includes health monitoring and diagnostic features such as Built-in Test (BIT), temperature monitoring, port mirroring and Virtual Cable Tester. Low power consumption and high MTBF ratings make the MPR-ES-1 an ideal choice for rugged, high-availability systems. The MPR-ES-1 is suitable for both conduction- and convection (air)-cooled systems.

Ballard Technology Everett, WA. (800) 829-1553. [].

VME Card Sports 24-Port Gbit Ethernet Switch VME and Ethernet have a history of living together on embedded computing platforms. Concurrent Technologies’ latest Gbit Ethernet switch board, the FP 210/024, is designed to operate alongside their range of VMEbus-based single board computers. The FP 210/024 is an “unmanaged” embedded Ethernet switching

platform that provides a low-cost, low-power switching solution for integrators. Typically consuming less than 20 watts, it offers twentyfour 10/100/1000 Mbit/s auto-negotiating Ethernet ports, twelve accessible via the VMEbus P2 I/O connector and up to twelve via the front panel with the option for two being optical. The switch core contains a wirespeed, Layer 2, Quality of Service (QoS) switch fabric. Commercial and extended temperature versions are now available, and ruggedized, conduction-cooled or air-cooled versions will be available shortly. This switch facilitates communications within a chassis as well as supporting the network outside the chassis in a variety of applications including defense. The FP 210/024 sustains full duplex full wire 10/100/1000 Mbit/s speeds on all twenty-four ports. Ports 1 to 12 are used for connection to the nodes via the VMEbus P2 I/O connector. Ports 13 to 24 are via twelve RJ45 connectors on the front panel. The switch can handle timecritical/multimedia traffic such as voice, video and data as it utilizes four hardware priority queues per port and supports a range of QoS traffic classifications: port ID, MAC address, IEEE 802.1p, IEEE 802.1Q, IPv4 and IPv6.

Concurrent Technologies Woburn, MA. (781) 933-5900. [].


XMC Ethernet Switch Module Delivers 12 Ports of Gbit Ethernet

Managed 8-Port Gbit Ethernet Switch Matches PC/104 Footprint

A managed XMC 12-port Gbit Ethernet Switch for the embedded market can be mounted on virtually any VPX or VME module supporting the XMC mezzanine standard, and enables designers of rugged embedded systems to integrate high-speed Ethernet switching functionality on a space, weight and power (SWaP) optimized mezzanine module

Diamond Systems provides Epsilon, a managed Layer 2 Ethernet switch module offering eight 10/100/1000 Mbit/s copper twisted pair ports on a PC/104 form factor board. Epsilon can be used standalone, without

that requires no additional chassis slot to deploy. The XMC-651 module from CurtissWright Controls Embedded Computing is also available in a PMC mezzanine configuration (PMC-651) that provides up to 8 ports of managed GbE switching. The XMC-651 supports full line-rate non-blocked switching and the in-field management of a broad range of networking features including VLANs, multicast and Quality of Service. Designed for use in rugged military environments, the module is available in both air-cooled and conduction-cooled variants. The XMC-651 implements Ethernet switching functions via Broadcom 10th generation switching technology. Eight of the module’s ports support 10/100/1000Base-T with auto-negotiation. An additional four ports support SerDes (1000Base-BX) Gbit Ethernet, offering flexibility in connecting in-chassis devices. The XMC-651 implements Layer-2 Ethernet switching with full wirespeed performance on all ports and features an 8K entry MAC address table, with automatic learning, advanced flow-control and head of line blocking prevention.

any connection to a single board computer, or in conjunction with a host CPU. The module’s built-in microcontroller handles configuration and management. Onboard memory holds dual application images, boot code, MAC addresses and other parameters, and can also be used for program execution. An RS-232 serial port enables communication between the module’s onboard management microcontroller and a host processor. Epsilon’s built-in microcontroller is also accessible via a web management interface over one of the Ethernet ports. Epsilon provides a full PC/104 stackthrough bus interface, allowing it to be integrated into any PC/104 stack. However, the module does not interface to the PC/104 bus and does not require it for its operation. Input power can be provided through the built-in, wide-range +7-36 VDC power supply, enabling operation using industrial power sources. Alternatively, Epsilon can be powered from a +5 VDC source. To support the temperature extremes of fixed and mobile applications in both indoor and outdoor environments, the module supports fanless operation over -40° to +85°C. Single unit pricing for the model EPS-8000-XT starts at $450.

Curtiss-Wright Controls Defense Solutions Ashburn, VA. (703) 779-7800. [].

Diamond Systems Mountain View, CA. (650) 810-2500. [].

Managed OpenVPX 10 Gbit Ethernet Switch for High Performance Apps A rugged 6U OpenVPX data plane switch module is targeted at demanding high-performance computing (HPC) and networking applications such as communications, ISR and radar. The GBX460 from GE Intelligent Platforms now offers customers a choice between the fully managed

switch with the flexibility, versatility and functionality provided by the OpenWare suite of protocols and switch management software, or the alternative time-to-operation of the unmanaged version. The GBX460 with OpenWare supports high throughput interprocessor communication (IPC) between 10 Gbit Ethernet-enabled processing nodes for deployed networkcentric defense and aerospace applications. Its non-blocking 10 Gbit Ethernet ports provide high-performance throughput across the VPX backplane; the non-blocking feature means that the GBX460 can pass traffic across all 10 Gbit Ethernet ports at wire speed without bottlenecks. The GBX460 can support multiple OpenVPX slots/module profiles for maximum flexibility and throughput. The standard build provides 20 x 10 Gbit Ethernet data plane fat pipes and 16 x 1 Gbit Ethernet control plane ultra-thin pipes to support multiboard 6U VITA 65 (OpenVPX) system configurations. Multiboard systems can be configured by using the GBX460 together with GE processor cards such as the SBC622 Intel Core i7-based single board computer and IPN250, and NPN240 NVIDIA CUDA GPGPU processors to scale to extraordinary levels of performance for size, weight and power (SWaP)-constrained applications such as deployed image, radar, sonar and signal processing.

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

April 2012 | COTS Journal



Interface Concept Launches a 3U OpenVPX Fabric Switch

3U OpenVPX Switch Blends PCI Express and Ethernet

3U cPCI Serial Ethernet Switch for Rugged Environments

Interface Concept offers the ComEth 4410a, a Fabric Switch based on the OpenVPX 3U form factor. Through the ComEth 4410a, Interface Concept provides the OpenVPX hybrid switch market with all its experience regarding managed Ethernet switches. Built on the same architecture as the ComEth 40xx family, for

A new 3U OpenVPX PCI Express and Ethernet hybrid switch delivers extremely high transfer rates in centralized VPX and OpenVPX platforms. With up to 4 x 6 Gen1/ Gen2 PCIe backplane ports for the data plane, the VX3905 from Kontron provides ten times the I/O bandwidth found in systems deploying today and paves the way for a new generation of high-performance embedded computing

Ethernet switches can be found on most embedded form factors, and now CompactPCI Serial is added to that list. MEN Micro offers an Ethernet switch to extend its CompactPCI Serial portfolio. The G301 completes the offer of CompactPCI Serial boards for individually building up a complete system and convinces

(HPEC) applications. OEMs will benefit from the control plane, the Ethernet switch supports flexible OpenVPX system designs, which enable full-wire speed L2 bridging and L3 routing ploration application-specific configurations through with L2-L4 advanced traffic classification, your goal filtering and prioritization. The ComEth 4410a centralized COTS backplanes. Owing to the k directly is managed by our tried and tested Switchware, open configurability of the Kontron VX3905, age, the system developers can minimize development regularly enriched with new functionalities. source. time and cost for specific system designs while For the data plane, the ComEth 4410a ology, enabling the reuse of these designs for other implements a modular PCI Express Gen2 d products applications. switch, delivering up to 32 Gbit/s of switching The hybrid switch VX3905 is compliant capacity and ensuring very low latency thanks d with the OpenVPX VITA65 switch slot profile to its cut-through architecture. This switch SLT3-SWH-6F6U-14.4 for highest compatibility supports multiple simultaneous peer-to-peer in multiboard designs. It provides up to 24 PCI traffic flows in high demanding applications. Express Gen 1/Gen 2 ports for up to 32 lanes, Each port can be configured as the upstream which can be configured ( x8, x4, x2 and x1) switch port; the Non-Transparent Bridging depending on the required bandwidth. This (NTB mode) feature allows it to support offers OEMs a maximum data transfer rate multiple NT endpoints (for external PCIe nies providing solutions now of up to four gigabytes/s per port for serial domains or CPUs). Moreover, it is possible ion into products, technologies and companies. Whether your goal is to research the latest interboard communication, an extended to split the switch in independent partitions. tion Engineer, or jump to a company's technical page, the goal of Get Connected is to put you lifecycle of OpenVPX applications as well as Incorporating a microcontroller dedicated you require for whatever type of technology, enough headroom for future high-bandwidth theare management and productstoyou searching for. plane (VITA 46.11), the designs. Up to nine Gbit Ethernet ports are ComEth 4410a represents the most modular available on the VX3905 for the control plane, and powerful OpenVPX 3U fabric switch enabling dedicated system management for solution. high availability. An optional SATA disk carrier Interface Concept in accordance with the OpenVPX VITA65 Quimper, France. SLT3-STO-2U-14.5.1 profile facilitates central +33 (0)2 98 57 71 76. data storage for OpenVPX systems without the need to use valuable payload slots, further []. simplifying the system design.

End of Article Get Connected

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COTS Journal | April 2012

Kontron America Poway, CA. (858) 677-0877. [].

with its robustness and speed thanks to the new standard. The 3U CompactPCI Serial Ethernet Switch G301 is equipped with four Gbit Ethernet ports via RJ45 or M12 connectors in order to comply with the fast serial PICMG standard. Thanks to the integrated self-test mechanisms, the Gbit Ethernet switch is a very reliable component in communication systems and supports full and half duplex, fast non-blocking store-and-forward switching and autonegotiation as well as Layer-2 switching. The G301 is fault-tolerant and restores itself automatically: If a link is temporarily unavailable, it will work again after the disturbance without any restart or reset. The board supports Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) with Power Sourcing Equipment (PSE) for up to four external devices with a total power consumption of 28W. Using a configuration EEPROM, the G301 can be exactly tailored to each applicationâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s requirements (fixed management configuration). This includes features such as 802.1p priority and port-based priority, port-based VLAN or VLAN-IDs according to IEEE 802.1q. The Ethernet switch has especially been developed for mobile communication in harsh environments and is certified for operation in the extended temperature range according to railway standard EN 50155. All components are soldered to withstand shock and vibration and are prepared for conformal coating.

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


3U cPCI, Gbit Ethernet Switch Provides 12 Ports

6U OpenVPX Blade Server with Integrated 10 Gbit Ethernet Switch

PICMG 2.16 Board Offers Dual 10 Gbit Ethernet Uplinks

The 75D4-H2 is a 3U cPCI Layer 2+ Gbit Ethernet Switch from North Atlantic Industries, built upon the company’s multifunction, cPCI board technology. The 75D4 motherboard contains a high-density I/O module slot that supports an H2 switch function. The 75D4 with H2 consumes approximately 9.5W of total power at 5V to operate at full 1000Base-T speeds. In addition, the 75D4 motherboard can integrate

A rugged, high-performance 6U VPX (VITA 46) Single Board Computer (SBC) features a quad-core Intel L5408 Xeon processor and integrated 10 Gbit Ethernet switch to support full-mesh backplane data layer interconnectivity for up to eight SBCs integrated into a single chassis. Available in aircooled or conduction-cooled formats, the CPU111-10 from Parvus conforms to the OpenVPX (VITA 65) payload module profile MOD6-PAY-

Applications like airborne or shipborne communications systems demand a mix of high bandwidths and the resilience of high availability. Feeding such needs, PT (formerly known as Performance Technologies) offers the CPC6620, an advanced PICMG 2.16 embedded Ethernet switch featuring 24 10/100/1000 Mbit switch ports, two 10 Gbit uplink ports and support for IPv6 routing. Available in ruggedized and conformal-coated versions with fiber-optic 10 Gbit uplinks, the CPC6620 can

Ad Index Get Connected with technology and

be configured to monitor network status and four channels of RS-232/423/422/485 serial 4F2T- with four fat pipes (10 GBasecompanies providing solutions now to continuously check its own health through communications. This adds an additional 1.5W BX4) and two thin pipes (1000Base-T). is a new resource for further exploration real-time integrity tests. In the event of system of 5V power. Serial data is available on the cPCI Get Connected Providing unparalleled data processing technologies and companies. your goal or network failure, data can be automatically bus or can optionally be available over Ethernet into products, capabilities in a single-slot 6U VPXWhether form factor is to research the latest datasheet from a company, speak directly rerouted to an alternate path. via the use of one of the switch ports. The card card with built-in 10 Gbit Ethernet fabric with an Application Engineer, or jump to a company's technical page, the PT’s line of high-availability Advanced supports IEEE 802.3Ab (100BASE-T Gig-E), switching, the CPU-111-10 serves as an ideal opengoal of Get Connected is to put you in touch with the right resource. Managed Platforms is available in IEEE 802.3u (100BASE-TX Fast Ethernet), IEEE architecture building block for next-generation Whichever level of service you require for whatever type of technology, configurations including 1 Gbit or 10/100 802.3 (10BASE-T Ethernet) and IEEE 802.3x Command, Control, Communications, Get Connected will help you connect with the companies and products Ethernet switches, comprehensive remote (Flow control/full and half duplex). you are searching Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and for. shelf management, high-performance x86 and The 75D4 can also be configured to support Reconnaissance (C4ISR) applications on board PowerPC compute elements accommodating a complement of NAI’s high-density I/O (un)manned air / ground vehicles and shipboard Linux, Solaris or Windows operating systems, functions found here. Furthermore, 3U cPCI platforms. Standard onboard I/O resources and HA middleware. Options include processing is supported using the 75DP3 with include up to eight 10 Gbit Ethernet, two 1 Gbit applications processors, a wide range of multiple processor options, or expanded I/O Ethernet, four SATA, two USB 2.0, one RSnetworking I/O products and communications is supported using the 75C3 multifunction 232/485 and VGA video ports. Dual XMC / PMC protocols, and NexusWare, the Company’s CGL I/O board in a system to provide a complete expansion module sites enable additional I/O 3.2-registered and POSIX-compliant Linux low-power/high- performance, programmableGet Connected expansion, including 10G XAUIand lanes from eachproviding with technology companies solutions now distribution and development environment. cPCI solution for sensor control/interfacing and XMC card to the 10G switched fabric. Get Connected is a new resource for further exploration into products, technologies and companies. Whether your goal is to research th These configurations provide a complete, communications. For 6U VME Switch options, Offered in both convection-cooled and datasheet from a company, speak directly with an Application Engineer, or jump to a company's technical page, the goal of Get Connect integrated platform for system designers please see the 64DP3. ruggedized conduction-cooled variants, the in touch with the right resource. Whichever level of service you require for whatever base type of technology, to develop a wide range of applications, CPU-111-10 isyou designed for use with ANSI/and productslooking Get Connected will help connect with the companies you are searching for. North Atlantic Industries and are designed to reduce integration time and VITA 46 1.0” pitch VPX form factor backplanes. Bohemia, NY. lower development costs. Air-cooled variants provide a front panel (631) 567-1100. SFP+ port supporting CX4 copper and fiber PT applications for chassis-to-chassis and rack[]. Rochester, NY. to-rack communications. Conduction-cooled (585) 256-0200. variants feature traditional board stiffeners, heat spreaders and wedge locks to passively []. transfer heat to the chassis and tolerate high shock and vibration environments. An optional Rear Transition Module (RTM) is available that brings out VPX I/O over industry standard connectors.


Parvus Lake and City, UT. Get Connected with Salt companies products featured in this section. (801) 483-1533. [].

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April 2012 | COTS Journal




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PRODUCTS Get Connected

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PC/104 Module Combines Serial and Digital I/O

Connected with companies mentioned in this article. Stackable PC/104 boards make a great solution for Get space-constrained military systems. WinSystems today their in PCM-SDIO, with four asynchronous serial ports and forty-eight Get Connected with companies andintroduced products featured this section. a PC/104-compliant module

lines of digital I/O. It eliminates one board in a stack without sacrificing any features or benefits at a lower cost.

The PCM-SDIO is based upon a FPGA with both 16C554 UART and WS16C48 digital I/O-compatible cores. The digital portion is further enhanced since its I/O can interface with up to 30-volt signals. The PCM-SDIO will operate from -40° to +85°C without forced air cooling. All four serial channels support RS-232, RS-422 and RS-485 signal levels. The RS-422/485 configuration provides user-configurable terminations for balanced transmit and receive signal pairs for longer distance serial communications. Each channel supports 5-, 6-, 7-, or 8-bit characters with even, odd or no parity generation and checking. Independent on-chip software programmable baud rate generators support each channel with data rates through 115,200 bits per second. The PCM-SDIO also supports 48 lines of digital I/O. A major feature of this card is its ability to monitor 24 of the 48 lines for both rising and falling digital edge transitions, latch them, and then interrupt the host processor notifying that a change-of-input status has occurred. This is an efficient way of signaling the CPU of real-time events without the burden of polling each of the digital I/O points. Each output channel is latched and has an open collector driver (with a pull-up resistor) capable of sinking 12 mA of current. The PCM-SDIO requires only +5 volts and typically draws 250 mA. It is priced at $249 (qty 1).

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

3U OpenVPX Virtex-6 FPGA Board Features FMC Site

Remote TTL I/O Card Supports up to 32 Devices

A 3U OpenVPX front-end processing board boasts a flexible Virtex-6 FPGA and an FMC site (VITA 57.1). The IC-FEP-VPX3b from Interface Concept is suitable for applications such as radar, sonar, electronic warfare, imaging and communications. The FMC site, being VITA 57.1 compliant, interconnects ADC, DAC, general I/Os, video, Serial FPDP cards, or additional FPGA FMC modules. In terms of processing unit, the board, based on a Xilinx Virtex-6 FPGA, offers two banks of 40-bit 1.25 Gbyte DDR3 memory, and a Spartan-6 control node. Complying with the VPX standard, the IC-FEP-VPX3b features four 4-lane fabric ports on the P1 and general-purpose I/Os (on P2). The board is available in standard, rugged and conduction-cooled grades and comes with the Xilinx ISE design tool.

A remote 48-point TTL I/O card is designed for fast real-time PC-based control systems. The 7I69 from Mesa Electronics communicates with the host with a robust RS-422 link with up to 100 feet of link length. The 7I69 is supported by Mesa’s lowcost FPGA cards, which present a simple parallel register interface to the host, with all protocol details handled by the smart interface. One FPGA card can support up to 32 external devices and up to 3072 control points while still maintaining 10 kHz service rate for all points. The 7I69 provides 48 open collector TTLcompatible I/O points. I/O connectors are two 50 pin headers with I/O module rack compatible pinouts, allowing the 7I69 to drive two 24 point I/O module racks. Price of the 7I69 in quantity 100 is $50.

Interface Concept, Quimper, France. +33 02 98 57 30 30. [].

MESA Electronics, Richmond, CA. (510) 223-9272. [].

Module Links GPIB to I2C Interfaces ICS Electronics offers a new GPIB-to-I2C Interface for controlling I2C devices from the GPIB interface. ICS’s 4802 I2C interface board provides a way for test equipment designers to control a large number of dispersed I2C chips that can drive more devices in their test chassis and at the same time simplify the chassis wiring. The board is an IEEE-488.2compatible interface board that provides an I2C serial bus, an 8-bit parallel bus and an asynchronous serial interface to control digital devices. The 4802’s parallel interface consists of an 8-bit, bi-directional data bus, an 8-bit address bus and handshake lines to facilitate the data transfer with many types of digital devices and logic designs. The 4802’s asynchronous serial I/O is like a standard 3-wire, RS-232 COM port but with TTL levels for driving devices with serial interfaces. Pricing for the Model 4802 is $345 each in quantities of 1 to 4 units.

ICS Electronics, Pleasanton, CA. (925) 416-1000. []. 60

COTS Journal | April 2012


PXI Controller Supports the MOST150 Standard Goepel Electronic has introduced the PXI 6161, a PXI communication controller supporting MOST150 standard. Software and hardware are offered on a single-source basis allowing users the flexible configuration required for their individual requirements. A break out module as an optional accessory facilitates the connection of additional resources such as the Electronic Control Line (ECL) or trigger lines. In addition to the PXI version, Goepel Electronic offers the module as a USB variant. The card’s intelligent PowerPC architecture allows access to two on the board integrated network interface controllers (INIC OS81110), to ensure the MOST internal communication as well as monitoring of MOST contents.

Goepel Electronic, Jena, Germany. +49 3641-6896-0. [].

Rugged 3U cPCI SBC Blends Large Memories, Dual-Core Processing Compute density ranks as a high priority in many military designs. With that in mind, Aitech Defense Systems offers the C802, a 3U CompactPCI SBC based on the high-performance Intel Core i7 processor. Speeds can be factory configured to a high-performance 2.53 GHz, a lower power 2.0 GHz, or an ultra-low-power 1.33 GHz depending on application needs. The shock and vibration resistant SBC offers an operating temperature of -55° to +85°C, the widest standard range available in the rugged embedded computing industry. The new SBC features extensive, high-speed DDR3 and flash memory arrays to provide large volatile and non-volatile memory, including up to 4 Gbytes of fast DDR3 SDRAM operating at 1066 MHz and 4 Mbytes of flash BIOS. The onboard, high-speed 64 Gbyte SATA flash solid state disk (SSD) is controlled directly from an ICH8M I/O controller hub, and hosts the operating system and user application code. Additional virtual SATA SSDs can be added via the onboard PMC/ SATA site or via the external USB ports. The C802’s extensive I/O capabilities include automatic system/peripheral detection, two Gigabit Ethernet ports, one SATA II port, two serial UART communication ports, two USB 2.0 interfaces, HDMI/DVI and CRT video interfaces, a high definition stereo audio input or output, and up to eight single-ended general purpose discrete I/O channels that are independently configurable as input or output. An integrated 2D/3D graphics GPU engine supports graphics and video processing and provides the HDMI/DVI and CRT video output channels. An industry-standard PMC/XMC slot further extends the board’s I/O functions and supports 32-bit/33 MHz PCI bus, while the VITA 42-compliant XMC implements a PCIe interface to support x8, x4, x2 and x1 lane widths.

Aitech Defense Systems, Chatsworth, CA. (888) 248-3248. [].

USB Card Enables MIL-STD-1553 to Link to Any Embedded System USB has become ubiquitous in all computing platforms. This makes it a natural interface to military technologies like 1553. Feeding that need, Data Device Corp. has introduced the smallest 2-channel MIL-STD-1553 Small Form Factor (SFF) USB card. The card’s USB form factor, ultra small size, light weight, ultra low power, ruggedness and high reliability are an ideal combination for adding a reliable and cost-effective 1553 bus interface to any embedded system, laptop, or tablet computer. The BU-67113U board is designed with DDC’s advanced Total-AceXtreme MILSTD-1553 fully integrated components to provide very high reliability (MTBF) in an ultra-low-power, miniaturized board. Each channel can be configured in Bus Controller (BC) / Monitor (MT) mode, or Multi-Remote Terminal (RT) / MT mode, with BC disable and Tx inhibit options for RT and MT only applications. The board provides a locking USB connection allowing the system designer to locate this card anywhere inside a system with a USB receptacle.

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

RF Signal Analysis Software Suited for EW, ECM and Radar Testing X-COM Systems has introduced Version 3.0 of its Spectro-X software, the industry’s most comprehensive tool designed to search for signals of interest within long-duration recordings of signal activity in the RF and microwave spectrum. The new features in Spectro-X Version 3.0 include a “zoom” function that lets users more easily focus on a specific point in time and frequency, and integrated pulse search and analysis capability that allows long pulse trains to be identified based on key signal characteristics. Spectro-X software is designed exclusively for finding and analyzing signals of interest within recordings of signal activity. Those signals can be captured “over the air” using signal analyzers and X-COM’s IQC2110 with bandwidths up to 110 MHz, by X-COM’s Wideband Acquisition Record and Playback (WARP) system over bandwidths as wide as 6 GHz. Or they can be from custom spectrum files created in MATLAB or other third party software. The software is widely used for verification testing of radar, EW, ECM and all types of wireless systems to determine how they perform when subjected to actual signal conditions and for evaluating their performance over time. X-COM’s Spectro-X software is available now. A free 30-day trial version, a self-guided demo, and other technical resources can be accessed at X-COM’s website.

X-COM Systems, Reston, VA. (571) 612-5490. []. April 2012 | COTS Journal


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6U ATCA Shelf Streamlines Slot Configurations Get Connected with companies and products featured in this section.

Pixus Technologies offers an ATCA System Platform compliant to PICMG 3.0 Rev.2.0. With a redundant shelf manager integrated with the switch fabric, the system saves the two slots that are usually dedicated switch fabric slots in the ATCA Chassis. The two extra slots are used as standard payload slots, allowing more boards/performance in significantly less space. The PX0600 can optionally be configured for full HA redundancy across all FRUs, including power modules, cooling units, shelf managers/telco alarm and switches. If AC power is not required, a 5U chassis option is available. The PXS0600 6U shelf combines the shelf management slots with the Hub providing 50% more payload slots on the same form factor. The HASS offers the following options: The VT030 shelf manager provides the integration of a 10GbE and a 1GbE layer two managed switch on the same module. The VT030 can also run as a protocol analyzer to monitor, inject, capture and validate I2C traffic on the Intelligent Platform Management Bus (IPMB). A Graphical User Interface (GUI) validates and displays the IPMI packets or schedules IPMI messages for injection into the shelf. The GUI application communicates with the VT030 through the Ethernet port. The VT030 is fully hot-swappable to minimize service down time.

Pixus Technologies, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. (519) 885 5775. [].

ATCA Blade Sports Dual 2 GHz Eight-Core Xeon Processors

CompactPCI Serial Multi-Display Card Boasts Radeon GPU

Telecom and military requirements overlap in a number of ways. That’s why ATCA has made such inroads in the defense market. ADLINK Technology has announced availability of the aTCA-6200, a nextgeneration AdvancedTCA (ATCA) processor blade that demonstrates ADLINK’s leadership in the development of high-performance compute blades with flexible expansion capabilities. The aTCA-6200 sports 2 GHz eight-core Xeon processors, the Intel C604 chipset, DDR3-1600 memory up to 128 Gbytes, and a PICMG mid-size AMC bay. The aTCA-6200 provides high-speed datatransfer on the PICMG 3.1 Fabric Interface enabled by an Intel82599EB 10GbE Ethernet controller, and Base Interface connectivity provided by Intel 82576EB Gigabit Ethernet controllers. Versatile storage support includes four channels of SAS RAID 0/1, onboard bootable CFast socket, onboard 2.5” SATA drive space and modular Fabric riser card for additional PICMG Fabric Interface protocols. The mid-size AMC bay supports AMC.1 PCI Express and Advanced Switching, AMC.2 Gigabit Ethernet and AMC.3 SATA/ SAS storage expansion. I/O features of the aTCA-6200 include Base Interface channels, Fabric Interface channels and front/rear egress ports. Front panel I/O includes two RJ-45 GbE ports, three USB 2.0 ports, an RJ-45 to DB-9 standard serial port and a DB-15 connector for analog graphics output.

A new CompactPCI Serial peripheral board offers excellent graphics performance thanks to the AMD Radeon E6760 GPU and is especially suited for multi-display applications. Thanks to AMD’s Eyefinity technology, which is supported by the E6760 GPU on the G214, up to six different displays can be controlled independently. The standard version of the G214 is equipped with four DisplayPort 1.2 interfaces at the front, which have a maximum resolution of 4096x2560 at 60 Hz and a color depth of 24 bpp. By choosing a wider front panel, two additional DisplayPorts with a resolution of 2560x1600 can be accommodated. The GPU offers 480 stream processors with a frequency of 600 MHz—having a power dissipation of only 35W. Key features of the G214 include the AMD Radeon E6760 GPU running at 600 MHz, six SIMD engines, 480 shaders and 1 Gbyte integrated graphics RAM. It supports AMD EyeSpeed, Eyefinity and HD3D Technology along with DirectX 11, OpenGL 4.1 and OpenCL 1.1. The G214 has up to 6x DisplayPort (4x DP 1.2, 2x DP 1.1a) with a maximum resolution of 4096x2560 at 60 Hz and 24 bpp. There is also one PCIe x8 CPU interface.

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

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

PrPMC/XMC Module Supports Three QorIQ CPU Families Extreme Engineering Solutions has made available an air-cooled PrPMC/XMC module that supports the Freescale QorIQ P3, P4 and P5 processor families. The XPedite5400 joins the existing XPedite550x line of PrPMC/XMC modules, which support the Freescale QorIQ P1 and P2 processor families. The XPedite5400 supports five processors across the QorIQ P3, P4 and P5 processor families. These include the P4040 processor with four PowerPC e500mc cores at up to 1.5 GHz, the P4080 processor with eight PowerPC e500mc cores at up to 1.5 GHz, the P3041 processor with four PowerPC e500mc cores at up to 1.5 GHz, the P5010 processor with one 64-bit PowerPC e5500 core at up to 2 GHz, and the P5020 processor with two 64-bit PowerPC e5500 cores at up to 2 GHz.

Extreme Engineering Solutions, Middleton, WI. (608) 833-1155. []. 62

COTS Journal | April 2012


PCIe x8 Gen 3 Adapters Meets Small Form Factor I/O Needs One Stop Systems has shipped its first PCIe x8 Gen 3 expansion adapter. The new card mounts flat in a small form factor enclosure and contains a PCIe x16 mechanical slot. This makes it an ideal solution for 1U disk arrays requiring a single RAID card. This is a universal adapter that can mount into a limited height space. The PCIe x8 Gen 3 embedded cable adapter (OSS-PCIe-ECA-x8-G3) operates at data transfer speeds up to 64 Gbit/s and lists for $525 per unit. The card is immediately available and pricing for OEM quantities is available upon request.

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

3U VPX Development System Aims at Multiprocessing A free-standing, centrally switched, 7-slot 3U VPX development system is designed to aid in bench development of applications where the computation power of multiple SBCs is required. To enable rapid development, the SY VPX/507 from Concurrent Technologies comes pre-installed with two dual core processor SBCs (supporting the 2nd generation Intel Core processor) with onboard flash, associated rear-transition modules and a fabric switch board. An additional four slots are available for system expansion. The SY VPX/507 is based on an EMC enclosure, incorporating an integrated power supply and cooling fans, providing the user with a total of seven slots: one slot is reserved for the fabric switch and one slot is reserved for the system controller SBC. The remaining five slots can be populated with SBCs or peripheral cards. The backplane is compliant with the OpenVPX BKP3-CEN07-15.2.3.n profile, interconnecting each of the six slots with the fabric switch via a PCI Express (PCIe) fat pipe on the data plane and a 1000 Base-BX (SerDes) link on the control plane. The pre-installed boards supplied by Concurrent Technologies are compatible with the OpenVPX (VITA 65) specification and are fitted with a TR 803/592 2.2 GHz Core i7 SBC, a TR 803/592 2.2 GHz 2nd generation Intel Core i7 SBC and an FR 331/506 VPX Fabric Switch Board providing switching for six x4 PCIe data plane ports and six 1000 Base-BX (SerDes) control plane ports. The TR 803/592 supports many of today’s leading operating systems, including Linux, Windows, VxWorks and QNX, thereby making the SY VPX/507 suitable for a wide range of user configured applications. In addition, the SY VPX/507 is supported by Concurrent Technologies’ Fabric Interconnect Networking Software (FIN-S), which provides a high-performance, low-latency communications mechanism for multiple host boards to intercommunicate across high-speed serial fabrics like PCI Express.

FPGA Boards Enable Multifunction I/O for Custom Development Four new single board level embedded devices for custom embedded control and monitoring applications feature a real-time processor, Xilinx Spartan-6 FPGA, analog and digital I/O and more built-in peripherals. The new Single-Board RIO devices from National Instruments provide engineers with off-theshelf FPGA and real-time processor technology through NI LabView while maintaining the custom I/O often required for high-volume deployments through the option of a RIO mezzanine card connector. The connector provides direct access to FPGA digital input/ output (DIO) lines and certain processorspecific functions for mating custom daughter cards. NI Single-Board RIO alleviates the effort of designing an entire system from scratch so designers can focus on the custom parts of their application, such as the I/O.

National Instruments, Austin, TX. (888) 280-7645. [].

Concurrent Technologies, Woburn, MA. (781) 933-5900. [].

Conduction Cooled SBC in EMX Form Factor Sports Atom E680T A rugged EMX Basic single board computer (SBC) is based on the Intel Atom E680T CPU running at 1.6 GHz, and features dual Gigabit Ethernet ports, four serial ports and four USB 2.0 ports. The Altair from Diamond Systems is also the first SBC to implement the new EmbeddedXpress (EMX) stackable I/O standard. EmbeddedXpress is a new form factor specification for embedded computers introduced by Diamond Systems that defines an efficient stackable I/O expansion. The EMX specification enables flexibility, scalability and increased longevity in the final product by providing interchangeable processor modules. Altair supports 1 Gbyte or 2 Gbyte of DDR2 DRAM soldered on board and provides high-resolution LVDS and VGA graphics interfaces. Additional I/O ports include SATA, USB, serial, digital I/O and dual Gigabit Ethernet. Flexible system expansion is based on stackable EMX modules and a PCIe MiniCard socket. A socket is also provided for an optional onboard USB flash disk of up to 8 Gbyte. Altair’s rugged features include a wide temperature operating range of -40° to +85°C, soldered-on memory, plus dedicated locations on the PCB to replace configuration jumpers with 0-ohm resistors for resistance to shock and vibration. Conformal coating is also available as an added cost option. Single unit pricing starts at $795.

Diamond Systems, Mountain View, CA. (510) 810-2514. []. April 2012 | COTS Journal


COTS PRODUCTS Get Connected with companies and products featured in this section.

Pico-ITX Motherboard Has Dual-Core ARM A9 with Processor GetCortex Connected companies and products featured in this section.

A new ARM-based Pico-ITX embedded motherboard is equipped with a dual-core ARM Cortex A9. The KTT20/pITX from Kontron is based on the NVIDIA Tegra2 processor. It is specifically designed as a ready-to-use board for video-centric applications that require an extremely low-power profile on a small form factor. OEMs benefit from the KTT20/pITX and the established Pico-ITX ecosystem in terms of minimized time-tomarket and TCO for innovative low power applications. The Kontron Pico-ITX embedded motherboard KTT20/pITX features the highly integrated NVIDIA Tegra 2 1 GHz super processor with two ARM Cortex A9 cores. It provides up to 1 Gbyte of DDR2 system memory. Up to 512 Mbyte of onboard NAND-Flash and a microSD socket provide non-volatile memory for OS, application software and data. The integrated ultra low-power NVIDIA GeForce GPU delivers graphic performance for mobile devices in high-resolution gaming console quality. A comprehensive range of hardware accelerations for flash, video and audio codecs ensure fluent and brilliant playback of multimedia and web content on two independent displays that can be connected via single channel LVDS with backlight support and DVI-I interface. The KTT20/pITX supports all common monitor and panel types with resolutions of up to 1920 x 1080 (DVI) or 1680 x 1050 (LVDS) pixels respectively. For audio, the embedded Pico-ITX motherboard features SPDIF digital out for 5.1 sound plus stereo line-out and line-in and MIC. For networking, the Kontron KTT20/ pITX features one 10/100/1000 Mbit RJ45 interface. For application-specific extensions, there is a miniPCIe slot and five USB 2.0 ports that can be used to connect peripherals, such as touch panels, Wi-Fi etc. 3x RS-232 and up to 24 configurable GPIOs round off the feature set. Optionally, the Kontron KTT20/pITX includes a battery charger for 3 cell Li-ion batteries and a wide range power supply for up to 15 VDC.

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

Military Connector Boasts PCB Contact and Rear Seal Interconnect Solutions has developed a custom, highly durable and low-cost MIL-DTL 38999 Series II connector that features a contact for a printed circuit board and a rear seal for use in corrosive environments. Constructed to customer specifications, the interconnect solution was not only designed to be intermateable with standard MIL-DTL 38999 connectors, but also to withstand thermal cycling and exhibit air pressure sealing to a mandatory 5 PSI. ITT engineers re-designed the rear insulator and shell of a Mil-DTL 38999 Series II series connector to incorporate an epoxy compound, creating a low-cost alternative to a hermetic product by evaluating many epoxy compounds in order to meet the customer’s stringent testing requirements.

ITT Interconnect Solutions, Santa Ana, CA. (714) 628-8370. [].

ATCA Blade Serves Up Xeon E5-2600 Processor Advantech is now shipping ATCA blades employing the Intel Xeon processor E5-2600 family, formerly codenamed Romley-EP. Advantech’s MIC-5332 dual processor ATCA blade, one of several Advantech products announced today, comes with full support for the Intel Data Plane Development Kit (Intel DPDK) and Intel QuickAssist Technology to provide a seamless upgrade path for customer’s deploying the company’s previous two generations of Intel Xeon processor-based ATCA blades. The blade also incorporates a Fabric Mezzanine Module (FMM), a technology at the core of Advantech’s Customized COTS framework offering distinct differentiation advantages over COTS platforms and in-house designs.

Advantech, Irvine, CA. (949) 798-7178. [].

Xeon Quad-Core 6U VPX SBC Includes Ethernet Switch A rugged, high-performance 6U VPX (VITA 46) SBC features a quad-core Intel L5408 Xeon processor and integrated 10 Gigabit Ethernet switch to support full-mesh backplane data layer interconnectivity for up to eight SBCs integrated into a single chassis. Available in air-cooled or conduction-cooled formats, the CPU-111-10 from Eurotech conforms to the OpenVPX (VITA 65) payload module profile MOD6-PAY-4F2T- with four fat pipes (10 GBase-BX4) and two thin pipes (1000Base-T). The CPU-111-10 serves as a suitable open-architecture building block for next-generation command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) applications on board (un)manned air / ground vehicles and shipboard platforms. Standard onboard I/O resources include up to 8x 10 Gigabit Ethernet, 2x 1 Gigabit Ethernet, 4x SATA, 2x USB 2.0, 1x RS-232/485 and 1x VGA video ports. Dual XMC / PMC expansion module sites enable additional I/O expansion, including 10G XAUI lanes from each XMC card to the 10G switched fabric. Offered in both convection-cooled and ruggedized conduction-cooled variants, the CPU-111-10 is designed for use with ANSI/VITA 46 1.0” pitch VPX form factor backplanes.

Eurotech, Columbia, MD. (301) 490-4007. []. 64

COTS Journal | April 2012


Linux OS-Based AMP Solution Supports Xilinx Zynq7000 EPP An open-source Linux Asymmetric Multi-Processing (AMP) support for the Xilinx extensible processing platform (EPP) enables developers to put Zynq-7000 devices to work on applications that need to deliver deterministic, real-time responsiveness for markets such as automotive, industrial and others with similar requirements. The Zynq-7000 is a device that integrates an ARM Cortex-A9 dual-core processor on the same die with a configurable/ programmable FPGA array. Using open-source Linux and FreeRTOS operating systems and the RPMsg Inter Processor Communication (IPC) framework between the Zynq EPPâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s two high-performance ARM Cortex-A9 processor cores, Xilinx is able to simplify the implementation of AMP systems so system software developers can build their systems quickly.

DIN Rail Mount DC/DC Converter Delivers 150W Calex has announced the DIN Railmountable 150-watt HCM Series of DC/ DC converters. The HCM is housed in a rugged encapsulated cast enclosure with easily accessible â&#x20AC;&#x153;clampâ&#x20AC;? style barriers strips that secure the wire without twisting. The protected, recessed barrier strip facing the top of the case allows all connections to be made in tight quarters while protecting the barrier strip and wire from physical damage. The case is encapsulated with a thermally conductive potting material for improved thermal performance as well as environmental protection. The temperature range of the HCM series is -40° to 100°C. The case dimensions are 3.2 x 4.53 x 1.31 inches including the DIN mount foot. The DC input range of the HCM is an ultra-wide 9-36 VDC or 18-75 VDC. The output voltages available are 3.3, 5, 12, 15 and 24 VDC.

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

Xilinx, San Jose, CA. (408) 559-7778. [].

Cogent SOMâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Based On Marvell Processors CSB1726-MV78460 (ARMADA XP)

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10:06:04 AM April 2012 | COTS4/5/12 Journal 65


Solid as a Rock... and twice as Cool!

Development Kit Targets the XC2000 Safety Architecture Ruggedized 3U Multi Protocol R AID Systems No matter how you shake it, bake it, or configure it, everyone knows the reputation, value and endurance of Phoenix solid state and rotating disk products. Leading the way in rugged COTS data storage technology for decades, Phoenix keeps you on the leading edge with very cool products!

We Put the State of Art to Work

Hitex Development Tools now offers the SafeTkit for XC2000. The 16-bit SafeTkit XC2000 is a complete development package for designs based on Infineonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s XC2000 architecture. It contains all components enabling the developer to prepare his application for a quick and secure certification process according to IEC 61508 or ISO 26262. The SafeTkit XC2000 is based on the PRO-SIL safety products from Infineon and is in an easy-to-configure and easy-touse format. In addition to an evaluation board with the CIC61508 safety monitor chip, the kit comprises a software package with selftest libraries and development tools. The SafeTkit XC2000 is available in the Hitex online shop at

Hitex Development Tools, Irvine, CA. (949) 863-0320. [].

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9/9/11 6:35:00 PM

3.5â&#x20AC;? SCSI SSD

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SE/LVD/HVD & extended temp options. Replacement for obsolete SCSI drives. SCSI legacy support now and into the future. Uses COTS 2.5â&#x20AC;? SSDs. Options for discrete controlled secure erase.

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Quad-Core ARM Module Rides Qseven Form Factor A new generation of ARM-based modules has been initiated by Congatec with the introduction of the Conga-QMX6 Qseven module. The Qseven standard Revision 1.2, which was published back in September 2010, already prepared the ground for the early optimization of Qseven for dedicated ARM support by adding the I/O interfaces UART and CAN. The Conga-QMX6 Computer-On-Module (COM) is equipped with the Freescale i.MX6 ARM Cortex A9 processor family, which is scalable from 1 to 4 ARM cores and sports a high-end, 3D-ready HD graphics interface. The Qseven module will be available in four processor versions, starting with Freescaleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s i.MX6 Solo ARM Cortex A9 (1.0GHz, 512 Kbyte cache) up to the Freescale i.MX6 Quad ARM Cortex A9 (1.2 GHz, 1 Mbyte cache). The standardization of ARM processors has increased in line with the rise in high-performance mobile multimedia devices, leading to more tightly integrated, less application-specific processors with reliable, welldefined interfaces. Freescaleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s new i.MX6 family is suitable for the Qseven module form factor, which provides both standard PC interfaces as well as traditional industrial interfaces on the chip. The integrated graphics core is designed for multimedia applications with a video processor unit (VPU), 2D and 3D graphics (GPU2D/3D), four shaders with up to 200 MT/s (million triangles/second) and a dual stream of 1080p/720p. A dual HDMI v1.4 graphics interface is available, with the second HDMI port shared with LVDS. LVDS also supports 18/24-bit dual channel with a resolution of up to 1920x1200 pixels (WUXGA). A MicroSD socket can be used for inexpensive mass storage; for a more robust application thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the option of soldering on up to 16 Gbyte solid state drive (eMMC). Differential interfaces including 1x PCI Express 2.0, 2x SATA 2.0, 6x USB 2.0, Gigabit Ethernet, 1x SDIO, CAN bus, LPC and I2S sound are available.

Congatec, San Diego, CA (858) 457-2600. []. 66

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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: Target Report: Military Vehicle Upgrades and Modernization DoD and U.S. Army continue to rethink and revamp their plans for next-gen vehicle requirements, and that will necessitate rethinking previously planned electronics. Onboard communications and control electronics are still expected to multiply in sophistication for both nextgeneration and Current Force fighting vehicles. But in the short term, tech upgrades of existing vehicles will be the dominant activity in this space. Articles in this section explore the latest requirements and how these changes may be influenced by technology and the latest products available. Tech Recon: Hybrid Systems Blend OpenVPX and Legacy VME OpenVPX is expected to have a strong presence in military programs that have brand new embedded computing implementation. But alongside those new designs will be a substantial number of hybrid systemsâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;systems using both VME and VPX boards and subsystems. Such systems leverage the huge investment already made in the marketplace. This section explores how technology suppliers are implementing hybrid VPX/VME systems today and the tradeoffs and issues that come with that approach. System Development: Military Batteries and Power Converters Today the choice of power supplies, power converters and batteries can rank as a make or break decision in embedded military computer systems. With more and more computing stuffed into smaller spaces, power has direct implications on the size, cooling and mobility of a system. Articles in this section examine technology trends affecting military batteries, DC/DC converters, power supply module bricks and slot-card power supplies (VME, cPCI and others). Tech Focus: FPGA Processing Boards As the signal processing capabilities of FPGAs continue to climb, board-level configurable computing solutions have grown to become key enablers for waveform-intensive applications like sonar, radar, SIGINT and SDR. Such systems have an insatiable appetite for more digital signal processing muscle. This feature section delves into the solutions available in this area and explores how theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re transforming military signal processing systems. 68

COTS Journal | April 2012






EDITORIAL Jeff Child, Editor-in-Chief

Engineering Cost Control


e can look forward to the DoD’s budget getting thrown back and forth like a political football over the next several months, but there’s clearly one direction it’s going and that’s smaller. It’s a cliché to say that every challenge means an opportunity, but that won’t prevent the defense industry and the government from saying just that—and there’s always a grain of truth to be found there. Major cuts in DoD procurement and development funds shines a brighter light on the ongoing and persistent issue of cost increases in DoD weapon systems programs. The bad news is that those cost increases continue to be out of control. But the good news is those increases are now better tracked and defined. A good look into these issues is provided in GAO’s Annual Assessment DoD Weapon System Acquisitions report, released last month. The report is now mandated thanks to the DoD Appropriations Act, 2009. The report makes observations on the cost performance of the DoD’s 2011 portfolio of 96 major defense acquisition programs. It also does an assessment of the knowledge attained by key junctures in the acquisition process for 37 major defense acquisition programs. The 37 selected were ones in development or early production. Whenever I read through a document like that, I’m always on the lookout for key words like “software.” There are a couple reasons for that. First off, today’s most advanced and complex military systems are the heaviest users of embedded computing hardware. But you don’t see the word “computing” in these sorts of high-level reports. But “software” and “lines on code” imply embedded computing, and often times cost increases and program delays are related to software development issues of some sort. That’s part and parcel of today’s level of technology where the great majority of functionality in any military system is implemented as software running on an embedded computer. An example is the Army’s Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD). Its goal is to network sensors, weapons and a common battle command system across an integrated fire control network to support the engagement of air and missile threats. Increases in the size of its software effort delayed its design review by eight months, and increased its development costs by over $400 million. Program officials now estimate the size of the software development at over 6.6 million lines of code—a 37 percent increase over the estimate at development start. In addition, about 63 percent will be newly developed code or auto-generated code. Another example is Air Force’s MQ-9 Reaper UAV system. The production decision for the block 5 version of MQ-9 has been delayed by two years to July 2013 because of concerns about software delays and 70

COTS Journal | April 2012

the amount of developmental and integration testing remaining. Often times it’s not pure software development that’s unpredictable in terms of time or costs. Rather, it’s the integration of hardware and software in military embedded systems that continues to throw off budget estimates and cost predictions. Naturally costs of software and computing aren’t the only factors, but they are factors that are under the control of military technology developers in terms of improving tools and techniques. According to the GAO report, the estimated cost of the DoD’s 2011 portfolio stands at about $1.58 trillion and has grown by over $74 billion or 5 percent in the past year. Within that amount, about $30 billion of the growth can be attributed to quantity changes within major defense acquisition programs. The other $45 billion is due to research and development cost growth and production inefficiencies. Many of the programs in the portfolio with the greatest growth in estimated research and development costs in the last year are already in production and either experienced growth because of lingering development issues or added funding for upgrades or modernization efforts. The cost of the portfolio is driven by the 10 highest-cost programs, which account for 55 percent of its total cost. Most extreme, of course, is the Joint Strike Fighter, which accounts for 21 percent of the total cost of the portfolio and 52 percent, or about $39 billion, of the cost growth in the past year. Looking forward, the report also says that 91 percent of the funding needed to complete the programs in the portfolio is for procurement, with most of that for a few large programs. Meanwhile, in the last year over 60 percent of programs have lost buying power. The buying power is measured as an increase in program acquisition unit cost—depriving the DoD of funding that could have been used for additional quantities or other priorities. Also interesting: Around 40 percent of the programs have experienced cost increases in the past year that exceed cost growth targets discussed by the DoD, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and GAO; and over 50 percent exceeded the targets for growth in the past five years and since the first full estimate. With all that in mind, the report projects that the number of programs in the DoD’s 2012 portfolio will be the smallest since 2004 as more programs continue to leave the portfolio than enter it. That is viewed as a positive sign because it means that the DoD is adjusting its number of programs to meet resources. There’s no doubt that every penny of cost savings translates into dollars that can be spent elsewhere for defense procurement or R&D. If better engineering and reliance on technology suppliers can help tame those costs, then that’s a victory for our industry.


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COTS Journal  

April 2012

COTS Journal  

April 2012