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Tech Focus: COM and

COM Express Boards Roundup

The Journal of Military Electronics & Computing


Rugged Laptops and Workstations Serve a More Mobile Military Volume 15 Number 8 August 2013

An RTC Group Publication

Embedded Development Tools Broaden Their Scope

RTD Embedded Technologies, Inc. Gigabit Ethernet

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Stackable, rugged enclosures are available for RTD’s complete line of products.

Design, Engineering, Manufacturing & Tech Support

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Copyright © 2013 RTD Embedded Technologies, Inc. All rights reserved. RTD is a co-founder of the PC/104 Consortium and an AS9100 and ISO9001 Certified Company. All trademarks or registered trademarks are the property of their respective companies.

AMD Fusion G-Series Single-Core & Dual-Core SBCs

The Journal of Military Electronics & Computing


Rugged Box vs. Slot Card Systems for Tech Upgrades

CONTENTS August 2013

Volume 15

Number 8

SPECIAL FEATURE Rugged Box vs. Slot Card Systems for Tech Upgrades

10  Box-Level Systems Vie with Slot Cards for Upgrade Programs Jeff Child

18  Variety of Factors Influence Pre-Integrated System Decisions Christine Van de Graaf, Aaeon Electronics

TECH RECON Rugged Laptops, Workstations and Display Systems

24  Rugged Laptops and Workstations Enable a Net-Centric Military Jeff Child

SYSTEM DEVELOPMENT Embedded Development Tools for the Military

32  Architecting for Interoperability Smoothes System of Systems Challenges Gordon Hunt, RTI


40  COM Express Rides Wave of Integrated Electronic Systems Jeff Child


COM and COM Express Boards Roundup

Digital subscriptions available:

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 Clock Ticks toward Sequestration’s Next Bite 8

The Inside Track


COTS Products

50 Editorial Beware the After-Thinker

Coming in September See Page 48 On The Cover: The M109 Paladin Integrated Management (PIM) vehicle can accommodate additional armor protections and power more on-board electrical systems. It has a next-gen 155mm Howitzer artillery cannon that’s able to fire precision rounds. PIM fills the capability gap created by cancellation in 2009 of the Non-Line of Sight Cannon—a component of the Future Combat System program. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Army)

The Journal of Military Electronics & Computing

Publisher PRESIDENT John Reardon, PUBLISHER Pete Yeatman,


Art/Production ART DIRECTOR Kirsten Wyatt, GRAPHIC DESIGNER Michael Farina, LEAD WEB DEVELOPER Justin Herter,

Advertising WESTERN REGIONAL SALES MANAGER Stacy Mannik, (949) 226-2024 MIDWEST REGIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL SALES MANAGER Mark Dunaway, (949) 226-2023 EASTERN REGIONAL SALES MANAGER Shandi Ricciotti, (949) 573-7660 BILLING Cindy Muir, (949) 226-2000

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 Published by THE RTC GROUP Copyright 2013, 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 | August 2013 7/31/13 12:38 PM

GE Intelligent Platforms

You can’t see them – but there are 300,000 people standing behind this display What you can see is GE’s Intelligent Vehicle Display, available with a 10" or 15" screen. By combining it with a powerful on board processor, memory and extensive I/O and networking capabilities, it can make a significant contribution to reducing in-vehicle size, weight and power. What you can’t see are the people behind it. Every GE product comes with a guarantee of exemplary customer support – the kind of support it takes to enable you to turn products into solutions more quickly and at lower cost, speeding your time to market and helping you achieve competitive advantage. At GE Intelligent Platforms, we can offer you the best of both worlds: the agility and responsiveness of a small company, backed by the resources and strength in depth of one of the world’s most dependable companies. Add the GE team to your team, and experience the GE difference.

© 2013 GE Intelligent Platforms, Inc. All rights reserved. All other brands or names are property of their respective holders.


NOTEBOOK Clock Ticks toward Sequestration’s Next Bite


t appears that everyone has now been reassured that the sky will not fall because of sequestration. This deep sigh of relief and relaxed attitude we’re taking should be reconsidered, if only from the standpoint that sequestration takes another bite every year. Congress continues to play chicken with itself and the administration. The administration just points the finger and says, “it’s not us, it’s Congress.” I’m going to steal a line from Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos, when he stated that the government’s procurement process is “constipated.” It’s not just procurement. But that is the area where our readers are most interested and concerned. Congress, the administration, the DoD and the services are all “constipated,” not only with procurement but with how they should operate and manage. What each of these groups— let me call them the Gang of Four—need is a good management consultant firm to come in and get rid of the obstructive individuals and processes. Then they need to streamline operations and empower results-oriented individuals. Of this Gang of Four, only the services have a chance of coming close to making a change. That’s because they are the military with a command structure that can dictate change. No matter what both sides will say publically, for the last decade or two the environment between the defense industry and DoD has become adversarial and one of distrust. Large corporations with their emphasis primarily on the military market usually have difficulty shifting gears and focusing on the commercial market. Many of these corporations are now just attempting to wait things out. They’ve made adjustments in staffing and other cost savings. Their big problem is whether they can hold out longer than the Gang of Four; many won’t be able to. Decades ago the Packard Commission noted that program management had shifted from management to reporting and selling the merits of their program. If anything, today it’s even worse. Every program is burdened with endless reviews and administrative procedures making program managers’ duties even more focused on reporting and selling. The results are products that come in over or under their requirements, interminably delayed and with cost overruns in multiples of the original concept. For anyone to say that sequestration may be just what we needed is probably not politically correct. But sequestration may be the only way the Gang of Four will ever do what has to be done. We need to get back to where the top brass determines exactly 6

COTS Journal | August 2013

what is needed—not desired or politically correct—and works with one or two contractors on a program. They need to just get it done like the F-117, MRAP and GPS, and get it into the hands of ground troops. We need to rebuild trust between industry and the military and develop a “will do” atmosphere, or China will overwhelm us with advanced technology military equipment. Closer to home, what can we do in our industry? Ever since the introduction of commercially available product technology for the military, COTS suppliers have developed a range of base products and offered them with the understanding that they would be modified to meet specific requirements. This marketing technique enabled suppliers to have products they could introduce to multiple programs for different services. As time passed some suppliers developed product ranges that were more specific to one service than the others. Sequestration is pushing suppliers to even tighter focus on their products market. We’re entering a cycle where rather than developing a base product and modifying it, suppliers are now developing a product, at their cost, specifically and uniquely for a particular program. To succeed in this new cycle of providing electronics to the military, you need to do exactly what the Gang of Four needs to do: work closely with the military in an atmosphere of mutual trust. In some cases our people will work directly with the military, or more likely in partnership with a prime. For many smaller electronics suppliers, the risk is still too great to work like this. Most if not all the development costs are born by the supplier. And what makes this technique work is unbelievably quick development and production of a quality product that performs as envisioned. Funds are becoming tighter and tighter every year. And the military can only reduce headcount by so many. That all means that future budget reductions can only come from overhead and procurement. Having the ability to succeed in the new cycle of procurement will determine many of our current electronics suppliers’ business longevity. The clock has started to tick…

Pete Yeatman, Publisher COTS Journal

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INSIDE TRACK Parvus Receives $3.3M Order for Army Kiowa Helicopter Program Parvus Corporation, a Eurotech subsidiary, has announced it received a $3.3 million follow-on order from Mercom Inc. to supply DuraCOR 810Duo tactical computer subsystems that will be integrated into U.S. Army OH-58D Kiowa military helicopters (Figure 1). Deliveries will take place within year end. The U.S. DoD recently announced that Army Contracting Command, Redstone Arsenal, AL, had awarded a firm-fixed-price contract with a maximum value of $7,278,762 to Mercom for the procurement of DuraCOR computers in support of this program. The DuraCOR 810-Duo is a rugged multicore mission processor subsystem designed for high-reliability applications requiring MIL-STD810G environmental compliance with extreme temperatures, shock/vibration and ingress. Based on a modular, open architecture COTS design with an Intel Core2 Duo CPU, solid state disk, MIL-704/1275 power supply and conduction-cooled chassis, the DuraCOR 810-Duo is an ideal computing solution for harsh mobile military and homeland security C4ISR deployments. Figure 1

Parvus Salt Lake City, UT. (801) 483-1533. [].

PICMG Ratifies MicroTCA.2 Specification for Rugged Applications PICMG has announced the adoption of the Hybrid Air/Conduction Cooled MicroTCA (MicroTCA.2) specification. The PICMG MicroTCA.2 specification addresses the needs of severe shock, vibration and thermal environments typical of many military air, land and sea as well as rugged industrial applications. The specification defines a modular open systems approach for hardened hybrid air/conduction-cooled computer systems. It was developed based on key input from military vendors such as BAE Systems, and includes well-defined test procedures for a consistent reading of vendor compliance. 8

COTS Journal | August 2013

An OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopter from the 1st Infantry Division takes off on a mission in 2004 from Forward Operation Base MacKenzie, Iraq. It is armed with an AGM-114 Hellfire and seven Hydra-70 rockets. MicroTCA.2 modules of all power levels benefit from the hybrid air/conduction-cooling (hybrid cooling) approach, in which conduction allows thermal sharing among modules and with the chassis. This thermal sharing effect allows additional surface area to be exposed to the airflow through the chassis to more effectively dissipate the system’s total thermal load. By taking advantage of complementary conductive heat transfer through finned clamshelled module surfaces and aluminum chassis sidewalls, as well as heat sharing between adjacent chassis slots, the MicroTCA.2 hybrid cooling solution effectively provides increased thermal margin. PICMG Wakefield, MA. (781) 246-9318. [].

AR Modular RF Device Selected for USAF C-130 Upgrade AR Modular RF has been selected as the top choice to upgrade a number of C-130 onboard aircraft communications amplifiers. The C-130 upgrades will employ the latest technologies to fulfill its primary mission to support troops, serve as convoy escorts, and continue its role as the point of defense (Figure 2). The upgrades focus on the latest versions of the airframe by stepping up the communication capabilities and extending the communication range. A pair of AR-75 “Tactical Booster Amplifiers” is installed on each airframe. This AR Modular RF amplifier is compact, lightweight, and exceeds the shock and vibration requirements even

Figure 2

A C-130 Hercules, equipped with the U.S. Forest Service Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System, lands at Laughline Air Force Base, Texas. when direct mounted to the airframe. In hostile environments, where dependable mission-critical communications is essential, the AR-75 outperforms all expectations. The Model AR-75HPS is a fully


automatic band-switching RF booster amplifier for multiband VHF/UHF Tactical Radio equipment employing legacy, proprietary and emerging waveforms. The amplifier covers the frequency band of 30-512 MHz using automatically switched filters to ensure low harmonic distortion levels, and is SINCGARS, HPW, HAVEQUICK and ECCM compatible. AR Modular Bothell, WA. (425) 485 9000. [].

General Dynamics’ WIN-T Increment 2 Completes Tests at NIE 13.2 The Warfighter Information Network – Tactical (WIN-T) Increment 2, built by General Dynamics C4 Systems, recently completed a Follow-on Operational Test and Evaluation (FOT&E) during the U.S. Army’s recent Network Integration Exercise (NIE) 13.2. WIN-T Increment 2 is the mobile, secure communications backbone of the soldiers’ network and

Figure 3

Network Integration Evaluation (NIE) 13.2 is the fifth in a series of semi-annual, solider-led evaluations designed to further integrate and rapidly progress the Army’s tactical network.

the cornerstone of the Army’s network modernization plan (Figure 3). When combined with the AN/PRC-154 Rif leman and AN/PRC-155 twochannel Manpack networking radios, WIN-T Increment 2 delivers vital situational awareness, intelligence and mission command that keeps pace with soldiers and their commanders during every stage of a mission. During the evaluation, more than 3,800 soldiers from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division conducted a wide range of on-the-move military and peacekeeping operations, both day and night, using the WINT Increment 2 system. The tests took place at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., from May 6 to May 23. WIN-T Increment 2 systems are currently fielded with the 101st Airborne and two Brigade Combat Teams with the 10th Mountain Division. WIN-T Increment 1, the predecessor to WIN-T Increment 2, is fielded to the entire Army with 210 systems in the hands of active-duty Army, Army Reserve and National Guard units. General Dynamics C4 Systems Scottsdale, AZ. (480) 441-3033. [].

Cubic Wins Marine Corps Contract for Next-Gen Laser-Based Tactical Training Cubic Defense Applications has announced it has been awarded an additional delivery order by the United States Marine Corps to provide an advanced Instrumented-Tactical Engagement

Simulation System (I-TESS) II. Cubic will provide an immersive training capacity that replicates the stresses and threats of actual combat. The order will replace older generation systems at the Marine Corps base in Quantico, VA. The I-TESS II system consists of a small-arms transmitter, which can be used with automatic weapons, machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and AT4 rocket launchers. There also is a man-worn detection system, audio and visual effects to simulate hand grenades, and tracking and engagement gear for vehicles and fixed structures. The system’s GPS and radio system provides real-time tracking of individuals and vehicles, in both indoor and outdoor conditions. The data is collected and briefed to the marine as an objective-based after-action review. Cubic Defense Systems San Diego, CA. (858) 277-6780. [].

Raytheon Nabs Navy Contract for Next Gen Jammer Tech Development The Navy awarded a $279.4 million cost-plus-incentive-fee contract July 8 that will transform how the service executes its Airborne Electronic Attack (AEA) mission. Naval Air Systems Command awarded the contract to Raytheon Co. to conduct the Next Generation Jammer (NGJ) Technology Development (TD) phase. The 22-month TD phase is the next step in transitioning mature components into testable subsystems as well as

Figure 4

An EA-18G Growler assigned to the Zappers of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 130 lands on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75). developing a preliminary design for the new jamming pods for the EA-18G Growler AEA aircraft (Figure 4). The Navy’s EA-18G Growler is the DoD’s only tactical AEA platform and supports all services from both aircraft carriers and land bases. NGJ will replace the ALQ99 tactical jamming system and will bring increased jamming capability to the warfighter that is critical to sustaining the future missions of the Navy and other services in strike warfare, anti-access/area denial and irregular warfare scenarios. The goal is to deliver this capability to the f leet in fiscal 2020. Raytheon will be required to design and build critical technologies that will be the foundational blocks of NGJ. Keys to success include demonstrations of required capabilities as well as crafting a design that will be tested and f lown on the Growler during the subsequent 4½ year Engineering and Manufacturing Development phase. Raytheon Waltham, MA. (781) 522-3000. [].

August 2013 | COTS Journal


SPECIAL FEATURE Rugged Box vs. Slot Card Systems for Tech Upgrades


COTS Journal | August 2013

Box-Level Systems Vie with Slot Cards for Upgrade Programs With tech upgrades growing in importance, the choice of box-level replacement or slot-card tech insertion has become a vital technology decision. Jeff Child Editor-in-Chief


consequence of this phase of constrained budgets and uncertainty about DoD programs is that technology upgrades are now gaining even more importance in the spectrum of today’s military system design and procurement efforts. Instead of focusing on “new start” platforms, all branches of the DoD are shifting more toward upgrading and modernizing the embedded computing and electronics of Current Force platforms. This is actually a positive development for the embedded computing industry—particularly as prime contractors are now compelled to outsource rather than build electronic subsystems in-house. A key decision facing today’s military system developer is that of caged cards versus an off-the-shelf box-level computer. The traditional approach is to use slot-card boards in a card cage. This means choosing a bus architecture, a rugged card cage and an SBC, plus any additional I/O boards to fulfill the requirements. Over the past several years, traditional embedded board vendors are adding stand-alone rugged box-level systems to their military market offerings. These complete system boxes provide a complete, tested and enclosed computing solution that eliminates complex integration chores for customers.

Bus Architecture Locked In In some cases of tech refresh or tech upgrade programs, the bus architecture is already given—with VME being the most prevalent for military applications. More recently, for August 2013 | COTS Journal



Figure 1

The Bradley ODS-SA upgrade integrates the latest digitized electronics, providing soldiers with optimal situational awareness, network connectivity and enhanced communication hardware. applications where size, weight and power have priority over past compatibility with legacy boards, the option of rugged box-level systems that are basically monolithic integrated computers is popular. The slot-card approach brings with it a number of merits. It offers the greatest f lexibility in the I/O

complement that can be supported. If an MIL-STD-1553 interface is needed, such a board can be added. The f lexibility of a slot-card system is particularly useful when not all the I/O requirements are defined at the beginning of a project—a situation not uncommon in military programs. Moreover, some applications like comms and networking systems often require slots left open for the end-user for reconfiguring systems functionality in the field. Because upgrade programs aren’t as advanced as new programs—and also because vendors like to guard their opportunities—many of these upgrade programs go unannounced. But slot-card technology upgrade programs continue to be a cash cow business for many, and such programs are expected to both expand and multiply. Among the highest profile of these include the Abrams Tank Systems Enhancement Package (SEP) Upgrade; F-18 Advanced Multi-Purpose Display Program; Bradley Vehicle Electronics

Upgrade; B-52 Mission Computer Upgrade; Aegis Guided Missile Destroyer Sonar Upgrade; B-2 Bomber Radar Upgrade; Boeing B-1B Bomber Avionics Upgrade; and C-130 Cockpit Upgrade. Standards-based embedded computer solutions such as VME are used in most all of these upgrade programs. Last fall, BAE Systems received a $306 million contract modification to upgrade 353 Bradley Fighting Vehicles (Figure 1). The Bradley ODS-SA upgrade integrates the latest digitized electronics, providing soldiers with optimal situational awareness, network connectivity and enhanced communication hardware. Its proven durability and commonality of design reduces the logistics burden while enhancing battlefield performance to meet a variety of mission requirements in close-combat, urban scenarios and open-combat situations. The contract was awarded by the U.S. Army TACOM Life Cycle Management Command with final delivery expected in April 2014.



Introducing Proteus 2 & Galatea 2 Rugged SSDs available in SLC & MLC Flash with capacities up to 1TB ©2013 TeleCommunication Systems (TCS). All rights reserved. Untitled-7 1 COTS Journal | August 2013 12

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Upgraded Technology with New VME SBCs Fueling the need for VME refresh computing, many vendors continue to produce new VME boards that sport the latest and greatest processors and memory technology. An example is a recent product from CES - Creative Electronic Systems. The RIO6-8096 is the latest member of the RIO6 family of 6U VME64x single board computers featuring the Freescale QorIQ P2010 (single core) or P2020 (dual core) processor, with an optional user-programmable Xilinx Spartan-6 FPGA. The RIO68096 provides a PCIe x4 link over the standard VME-P0 connector on any existing VME64x backplane (Figure 2). Designed specifically for technology insertion into airborne applications requiring conduction-cooled equipment, its CES FlexIO technology makes it possible to adapt the pinout of the RIO6-8096 to the rest of the system, making it a plugin replacement for obsolete SBCs. The FPGA-based VME bridge from CES guarantees unlimited obsolescence manage-

Figure 2

The RIO6-8096 6U VME64x single board computer has technology that makes it possible to adapt the pinout of the RIO6-8096 to the rest of the system, making it a plug-in replacement for obsolete SBCs. ment. The RIO6-8096 introduces support for a PCIe x4 connection over any traditional VME64x backplane that is fitted with VME-P0 connectors. The onboard VME-P0 connector allows PCIe links

through the traditional VME-P0 backplane connectors, allowing the insertion of new technology without the need to replace the enclosures and backplanes. This PCIe over VME-P0 connection allows

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the connection of an ISC-8422 intelligent carrier to the RIO6, providing two additional PMC/XMC sites linked to the same SBC. It also allows a high-throughput PCIe x4 connection between two RIO68096 boards in addition to the VMEbus. CompactPCI for its part has become a technology upgrade technology in its own right. At one time CompactPCI was the new kid on the block, but now with nearly 20 years under its belt,

CompactPCI offers all the ingredients that attract military decision makers. While cPCI isn’t ever expected to eclipse the legacy of VME in the military market, its niche remains solid. An expanding set of CompactPCI boards has emerged, and among them is a wide collection of cPCI products that are available from a variety of vendors in every category. An example of a recent CompactPCI SBC offering is the Kontron CPS3003-SA.

Figure 3

The AB3000 is small, lightweight and loaded with capabilities. This rugged, conduction-cooled COTS device marries the efficient Intel E680T processor with MIL-STD-1553 and ARINC 429/708/717 interfaces, Ethernet, USB, video, audio and PMC expansion.

It comes equipped with 3rd generation Intel Core i7 processors and offers PCI Express Gen 3.0, USB 3.0, SATA 6G and Gigabit Ethernet over backplane. Kontron’s new CompactPCI Serial processor board is available in multiple versions and is scalable from the 1.7 GHz dual-core Intel Core i7-3517UE processor to the quad-core Intel Core i7-3612QE. For memory-hungry applications, it offers up to 16 Gbytes of ECC DDR3 SDRAM. The Mobile Intel QM77 Express chipset already provides numerous interfaces by default, so the processor board delivers a high performance density in the smallest of spaces.

Mission Platform Box Solutions Meanwhile on the technology supplier side, the definition between box-level and slot-card offerings is starting to blur. What’s happening is that military embedded computing vendors are expanding their offerings to include “mission payload”-style pre-integrated systems. These systems often have swappable slot cards inside them, but they’re provided in an enclosure system with pre-testing and integration features already provided. An example along those lines is the MPMC-9341 Multi-Platform Mission Computer. Developed by CWCEC’s Embedded Systems group, this natural convection-cooled, rugged 4-slot OpenVPX features a built-in power supply Untitled-5 1 COTS Journal | August 2013 14

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and four 3U OpenVPX system slots that can be configured to accommodate up to four SBCs for high-performance multiprocessing applications, or as a mix of SBCs and I/O modules to handle specific program I/O requirements. The MPMC9341 uses advanced packaging techniques to provide the processing power of up to four SBCs in a rugged enclosure that measures a compact 600 cubic inches yet is able to operate and survive external air temperatures of 55°C using only natural convection. It features a rugged enclosure designed to meet military specifications including MIL-STD-810 for environmental conditions, MIL-STD-461 for EMI and MIL-STD-704 for power. Beyond a computing system building block approach, some vendors are getting closer to the end application needs of the military system developer. Themis Computer’s initiative, for example, includes preconfigured versions of the 3U VPX and mezzanine modules, backplanes, I/O controllers, front panels and chassis cooling options. These systems allow customers to buy true COTS systems, with a standardized option set, suitable for many Mission Computer, Display Processor, Digital Map, EW Controller, SIGINT Recorder, Bus Data and Voice Recorder, and Payload Management applications.

is ready to take on all of your toughest computing and interface problems. Avionics databus protocols are not an add-on with the AB3000. Choose the model that includes one or multiple protocols built right in to meet the unique needs of your application. Powerful interface circuitry manages protocol functions so the AB3000’s processor is free to concentrate on your software application. Avionics interface support in-

cludes MIL-STD-1553, ARINC 429/575, ARINC 708/453 and ARINC 717/573. Other interfaces supported include RS232/422/485, Ethernet (10/100), USB 2.0 Host (High Speed), CANbus, Discrete I/O and PMC Expansion. Rugged box-level systems are definitely the fastest growing product category in the embedded computing industry with new players joining all the time. Trenton Systems for example, more well

Small Box-Level Systems Many times the reason to shift from a slot-card to a box-level system is to accommodate stricter size, weight and power limitations. The tradeoff is that many such small form factor box systems are relatively generic. But recently the trend toward complete box-level systems has broadened to include some offerings that target specific needs like avionics. Along those lines, Ballard Technology, a wholly owned subsidiary of Astronics, offers its Avionics BusBox 3000 (AB3000) systems. The AB3000 (Figure 3) is small, lightweight and loaded with capabilities for easy integration into today’s modern aircraft, UAVs and ground mobile platforms. With an efficient Intel E680T processor, MIL-STD-1553 and ARINC 429/708/717 interfaces, Ethernet, USB, video, audio and PMC expansion, this rugged, conduction-cooled COTS device Untitled-18 1

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known for its rugged military rackmount computers, has just rolled out its first enclosed rugged fanless computer platform, the TFL2701. The system is suited for vehicle-mounted military computing solution for installing in small areas on manned and unmanned aircraft, ground vehicles, surface ships and submarines. It features a choice of a long-life, embedded Intel Core i7 processors to ensure maximum multi-core processor perfor-

mance. This unit carries several certifications including various MIL-STD-810G and DO-160F environmental as well as MIL-STD-461F and DO-160F electrical ratings. These MIL-STD-810, DO-160 and MIL-STD-461 certifications. Configurations are available with expanded video, GPU computing and discrete I/O options. Extended operating temperature range of -40 to +71 degrees C. Aitech Defense Systems


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Ballard Technology Everett, WA. (425) 339-0281. []. CES - Creative Electronic Systems Geneva, Switzerland. +41.22.884.51.00. []. Curtiss-Wright Controls Defense Solutions Ashburn, VA. (703) 779-7800. [].

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Eurotech Columbia, MD. (301) 490-4007. []. Extreme Engineering Solutions Middleton, WI. (608) 833-1155. [] GE Intelligent Platforms Charlottesville, VA. (800) 368-2738. []. General Micro Systems Rancho Cucamonga, CA. (909) 980-4863. [].

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Kontron Poway, CA. (888) 294-4558. []. Mercury Systems Chelmsford, MA. (978) 967-1401. [].

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SPECIAL FEATURE Rugged Box vs. Slot Card Systems for Tech Upgrades

Variety of Factors Influence Pre-Integrated System Decisions Choosing and configuring the right pre-integrated systems requires considering many factors. Modularity, flexibility, longevity and ecosystem lead the list. Christine Van De Graaf, Sr. Solution Architect Aaeon Electronics


trapped for time and resources— that has become a common dilemma in almost every industry segment. It drives solution integrators to optimize their in-house capabilities to focus on core strengths, and seek out partners who can successfully identify the project gaps to address near-term and long-term requirements and project objectives. This common dilemma has been a driving force behind the development and portfolio creation of applicationready solutions across multiple industries. Military and government applications are in need of these solutions as much as their healthcare and automation counterparts. What are the key attributes of the needed pre-integrated application-ready systems for military and government solutions today? The basic elements of appropriate size, weight and power (SWaP) are relevant; however, there is more that must be taken into consideration as well. Much has already been written about SWaP, so instead it’s more helpful to take a deeper dive into the other key factors.

Start with Processor and Chipset For factors that immediately influence a decision regarding pre-integrated application-ready solutions, getting one 18

COTS Journal | August 2013

that has your application’s most suitable processor and chipset platform is the foundation. This selection criterion is more than just about the board at the core of the system. It has to take into consideration how the design has brought out the needed features and capabilities of the platform that are relevant to the system’s end functionality This relates to some extent to the I/O connections available as well as communications technology integration. For example: An in-vehicle application under development requires maximized USB connections as well as the option to easily integrate Wi-Fi. An early Intel Atom platform has been selected as the target core technology. A variety of ready-to-install systems are available. The desired system will have a design that makes accessible the full number of USB connections. If the specification for the in-vehicle application calls for wireless communication, the solution must have it as an integrated feature or allow for easy add-in of Wi-Fi capability such as through mini card expansion. How the system addresses enabling a user interface is important as well. It’s key to make sure that if a VGA display is the target user interface, then the application-ready system needs to support VGA plug in. Figure 2

Factors Driving Connectivity-Ready Pre-integrated Solution Choices Target processor/ chipset platform Application-specific I/O connections

Factors for addressing what is needed today

Factors for addressing what is needed long term

User interface (integrated or easily connected) Communications connectivity (preintegrated & network validated) Security features (SW and HW enabled) Remote management/ monitoring enabled Long life cycle support (5-7+ years) Modularity for upgradeability Migration path visibility

Figure 1

For pre-integrated solutions that are connectivity-ready, it is important to look at them from two perspectives: What is needed today, and what is needed long term?


That Cools.










Other Mercury Innovations Big Data streaming analytics Electronic countermeasures High-density storage High-performance computing Mission security Open EW architecture Thermal management

VVisit isit m and download our whitepap aper: Inno novations in Thermal Manageme ment Copyright © 2013 Mercury Systems, Innovation That Matters and Air Flow-By are trademarks of Mercury Systems, Inc.


Figure 2

The AAEON AEV-6312 delivers pre-integrated wireless communication capabilities as a vehicle application-ready embedded intelligent solution. This fanless design delivers proven capabilities for in-vehicle data processing and power on ignition/off delay control, plus integrated GPS. shows an example of a pre-integrated wireless comms solution for vehicles.

Tablets Find Their Place

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User interface and connectivity are two topics that merit further discussion. Systems that offer the portability and ease of use comparable to that of the Apple

iPad are very desirable well beyond the consumer space. Though there are ways of making an iPad more suitable for rugged environments, there are other tablet solutions that better fit the bill that can have application-specific software deployed on them such that the designer does not have to develop a full custom solution. An ideal rugged tablet will have a tough yet lightweight enclosure as well as a sunlight readable integrated touch display. Connectivity is essential as well, so integrated Gigabit Ethernet and 802.11b/g Wi-Fi, plus Bluetooth are valuable. To address the need for connectivity via cellular networks, having the ability to integrate a modem and related SIM card also may make one application-ready system more desirable as compared to one that does not have such an offering. It is even more desirable if the solution partner has done some pre-validation network connections. This is where ecosystem relationships become vital for pre-integrated applicationready systems. Pre-validation on a carrier’s cellular network helps take away some of the time-consuming, costly resource ex-

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pense of connected solution development. For those targeting a high-performance solution, those based on more recent generations of Intel Core processor technology also should be taking advantage of the integrated hardware based KVM. With connectivity comes the benefit of remote monitoring, updating and management. This benefit adds to overall system maintenance optimization over the long term. With such capabilities enabled, it means that a tool does not need to be taken out of service in order to be updated with the latest software and/ or patches or even for troubleshooting. These actions all can be done while the tool remains in the field. To support this efficiency benefit, the application-ready system needs to be built around a hardware platform that is capable of the advanced remote access features as well as having appropriate software integrated.

Leveraging Security Technology Some of the advanced technology for intelligent embedded systems is part of the latest generations of Intel Core processors.

These advanced technologies include: Intel Active Management Technology (AMT) and Intel Anti-Theft Technology as well as optimized instruction sets that enable faster AES encryption. These technologies coupled with designed-in Trusted Platform Management (TPM) hardware deliver both pre-integrated remote management as well as security. Moving on to the subject of security, it is essential that the target system have preintegrated a base level of hardware and software-based layers of security. Additionally, if the system is in compliance with more encompassing security frameworks such as that outlined by Intel’s Intelligent Systems Framework, the end application’s own elements of built-in security will be made more robust. Having the base layers of security pre-integrated allows the application developer to focus on just what is specific to the application. The rest has already been addressed and implemented in advance. Having now covered the “right now” factors that are pertinent in determining what application-ready solution to select, we can turn our attention to the “long-

term” elements that also need to be taken into account. The first of these is life cycle support. How long will the solution need to be in active use? Likely the planned lifetime is longer than that of a typical laptop or tablet (Figure 3). With that in mind, it is essential to pick pre-integrated systems that are utilizing components that can match the desired lifecycle that is typically five years at minimum.

Design for Expansion Given that requirements can change as a system goes through its life of active use, it is important that the pre-integrated system have some options for modular expansion and/or upgradeability. This would mean that the system could be modified without having to start from scratch. Ideally, there would be no change of enclosure and there would be no required changes with respect to how the system interconnects with other related systems for the end application. A short list of these modular system enhancements includes: mini card modem exchange, memory upgrade, cardbased storage device, and so on. As long as

The New 64 Channel Output Board 16-Bit, 500KSPS, PCI express, DAC per channel In response to customer 64 channel output board. We will jump through hoops to accommodate your special require ments and aggressive delivery schedules. Up until now it took four 16-channel boards. This one board places 16-bit, 64 channel, 500KSPS, PCI express Analog Output, DAC per channel, right on one board, and allows you to manage your data in Real-Time Real-Fast. This board was perfected at record industry speeds where every day counts. From custom board develop ment within the shortest lead-times, free software drivers, loaner boards, to industry leading features second to none, General Standards always works to develop and provide what you need when you need it.

If your application will experience environmental temperature fluctuations or power cycling, then the high reliability ordering option is recommended: High Reliability Processing, Ruggedization, Industrial Temp, Conformal Coating, Call about the availability of Conduction Cooled. For alternate form factors, our designs allow the flexibility to change platforms, including: PCI, cPCI and PC104-Plus, as well as PCI-Express, PC104-Express, PMC, etc. General Standards has a proven customer service track record – we never leave the problem with you whether it’s long term availability or the support you need to be satisfied with our products. It’s just good business to partner with us. For more information call and talk to the General Standards’ engineers. Our products are always manufactured in the U.S.A.

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August 2013 | COTS Journal



the foundation of the system is an industry standard SBC or computer on module, even core compute technology can be upgraded sans complete redesign. This also allows there to be multiple performance options for an application all based on a single design, with the only variant being the processor and chipset inside the preintegrated solution. Given that end-of-life of core components (such as processors, Ethernet controllers and chipsets for example) is

a reality, knowing that the pre-integrated solution has a roadmap that considers future technology is the last of the forwardlooking criteria that should be taken into consideration when making the solution selection that matches the long-term goals of the application. Visibility of the selected technology partner’s roadmap provides insight into where the application will be able to advance to for future generations, and shows the parallel and upgrade path options.

Figure 3

The RTC-1000i is an example of a military deployment-ready rugged tablet solution. The Intel Core i7-620UE processor-based solution matches military and government requirements for drop and vibration (MIL-STD 810G) in addition to being IP65 compliant and having sunlight readable, anti-scratch Gorilla glass (7H).

Keep Ahead of the Curve The needs of pre-integrated systems will continue to evolve over time as new technologies and increased connectivity also evolves. The only way to successfully address these changing requirements is to try to stay ahead of them by building in modularity and flexibility. Equally important are the relationships that the solution partner has with the rest of the ecosystem. This helps to ensure that the near-term and long-term needs of application-ready, pre-integrated systems are addressed. This in turn makes for smooth deployment and seamless utilization of the end military and government applications. AAEON Electronics Orange, CA. (714) 996-1800. [].

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TECH RECON Rugged Laptops, Workstations and Display Systems

Rugged Laptops and Workstations Enable a Net-Centric Military Rugged laptops and portable workstations have evolved to become the mobile user interface of choice for a variety of military systems. These help the U.S. military move toward the goal of a more network-centric mode of operations. Jeff Child Editor-in-Chief


here’s been a major upward trend in the military toward systems that require sophisticated graphical user interfaces. Often in the form of rugged laptops, workstations and display systems, this is where the warfighter gets the complex situational awareness data—maps, video, images and text—interfaced directly to military weapons platforms on networks. All that feeds into what the U.S. military dubs network-centric operations. The evolution toward a networked military means that every vehicle, every aircraft, every ship, every UAV and every soldier on the ground should have the capability to share data, voice and even video with almost any level of the DoD’s operation. One key use of laptop-level solutions leverages advanced video technology for situational awareness. An example along those lines is L-3’s VideoScout family of interoperable video exploitation, intelligence and management systems (Figure 1). The systems are designed to capture, process and exploit video and telemetry from a wide variety of manned and unmanned airborne platforms, vehicles, ships and network-based video streams. Once data is received, VideoScout allows users to create derivative video files and still images, as 24

COTS Journal | August 2013

Figure 1

COTS Journal Editor-in-Chief Jeff Child is briefed on L-3’s VideoScout family of interoperable video exploitation, intelligence and management systems. These devices can capture, process and exploit video and telemetry from a wide variety of manned and unmanned airborne platforms, vehicles, ships and network-based video streams.


well as annotate, geo-reference, store and share the resulting intelligent video with others across the battlespace. VideoScout helps both frontline tacticians and intelligence analysts quickly turn vast amounts of video data into concise, easily shared video intelligence to improve mission planning, execution and post-mission analysis. Last October, L-3 Communications was awarded an indefinite-delivery/indefinitequantity (ID/IQ) contract for its VideoScout systems. Provided on behalf of the Marine Corp Systems Command by the United States Navy, the contract provides for the purchase of new equipment, modifications of existing equipment and the development of new system enhancements. If all contract options are exercised, the total potential value of this four-year program is $85 million.

Transportable Enterprise Class Computing Terms like server and workstation are often used interchangeably among these classes of products. For its part, NextComputing has in recent years expanded its line into ever more rugged deployable types of solutions. Last December, NextComputing unveiled its latest mobile server and portable workstation, the Radius EX Plus (Figure 2). This transportable computer provides enterprise-level computing power, storage and flexible customization options for users who need the power of a rackmount server or tower workstation, but in an all-in-one package that is small enough to be easily transported. Unlike prior NextComputing portables that also offer similar benefits in terms of performance and configuration flexibility, the Radius EX Plus is the first of its kind to offer key features previously unavailable in any portable computer. These include AC 110/220V and 48V DC input options up to 650W 1+1 redundant or 1300W 2+1 redundant. Also included is support for mixed AC 110/220V and 48V DC in the same system. The units accommodate up to 14 hard drives that require no tools to remove. That’s in addition to up to 18 fixed hard drives or 20 solid state drives. Redundant power options protect important data and processes on the system in the event of either an external power source outage or internal power supply

Figure 2

Radius EX Plus supports up to 14 hard drives that require no tools to remove. That’s in addition to up to 18 fixed hard drives or 20 solid-state drives. failure. Users who require this level of reliability, such as deployed emergency response teams, homeland security forces, or television broadcasters, are now assured a level of hardware availability otherwise found only in larger rackmount systems.

Laptops as Control Systems Rugged laptops serve an increasingly important role in military systems as a user interface or control system. Getac has upgraded its B300 rugged notebook computer with faster processors, improved graphics and increased storage (Figure 3). Getac offers a third generation 2.6 GHz Intel Core i5-3320M (MAX 3.3) or 2.9 GHz Core i7-3520M (MAX 3.6) processor to improve CPU performance by up to 67% and nearly double the graphic performance with a 91% gain over the previous generation. In addition, the B300 now comes standard with a 500 Gbyte hard drive and offers solid-state drive storage up to 256 Gbytes. The Getac B300 incorporates Getac’s industry-leading QuadraClear display technology. For military soldiers working in hostile areas, the B300 can also be configured with a filter-free night vision mode ensuring easy viewing without giving away your location. The B300 features the ultrafast USB 3.0 and USB 3.0/eSata combo ports, both HDMI and VGA ports, a IEEE 1394a port, an Ethernet port and two legacy RS-232 serial ports. Additionally, the

B300 offers built-in GPS, 4G LTE wireless Internet and a host of security features including a built-in fingerprint reader, Intel vPro Technology and TPM 1.2. Sometimes the priority in portable military workstations is to have supercomputing levels of performance in a small space. Eurocom takes that approach with its Panther form factor. It features enough computing horsepower to easily run the most demanding and sophisticated military grade graphical user interfaces, allowing the warfighter and commander to get the most up-to-date situational awareness data on the battlefield. The Eurocom Panther form factor is a fully upgradeable solution that can be configured as a Mobile Server (Panther 5SE), Mobile Workstation (Panther 4.0) or 3D Super Computer (Panther 5D) (Figure 4). Eurocom uses a high-performance desktop replacement chassis with the highest quality mobile components such as Intel Xeon E5 processors, NVIDIA Quadro K5000M graphics and Intel S3700 Solid State Drives that are able to support mission-critical products, server class operation as well as professional workstation operation. The Panther provides fast deployment right out of the box, combined with easy relocation. The ability to hand carry the system makes the Eurocom Panther an extremely easy system to travel with while providing super computer capabilities. The system uses quad channel memory supporting up to 32 Gbytes of DDR3 1600 MHz RAM via four 8 Gbyte SODIMM 204 pin modules.

Purpose-Specific Portable Systems A recent trend is to integrate a complete purpose-specific set of functionalities into a mobile workstation-type of form factor. Pentek takes this approach with a RF/IF signal recording and playback system that features recording and playback of IF signals up to 700 MHz with signal bandwidths to 200 MHz. The Model RTR 2727 rugged portable recorder from Pentek can be configured with 500 MHz 12-bit A/Ds or 400 MHz 14-bit A/ Ds and an 800 MHz 16-bit D/A. Pentek’s SystemFlow software allows turnkey operation through a graphical user interface August 2013 | COTS Journal


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(GUI), while the SystemFlow application programming interface (API) allows easy integration of the recording software into custom applications. At the heart of the recorder are the Pentek Cobalt Series Virtex-6 software radio boards featuring A/D and D/A converters, DDCs (digital downconverters), DUCs (digital upconverters) and FPGA IP. This architecture allows the system engineer to take full advantage of the lat-

est technology in a turnkey solution. Optional GPS time and position stamping captures this critical signal information within the recording. The RTR 2727 has a portable, lightweight chassis with up to eight hot-swap solid-state drives (SSDs), front panel USB ports and I/O connections on the side panel. Its extremely rugged, 100 percent aluminum alloy case is reinforced with shock absorbing rubber cor-

Figure 3

The B300 incorporates Getac’s QuadraClear display technology. It can also be configured with a filter-free night vision mode ensuring easy viewing without giving away your location.

Figure 4

The Panther serves as a highperformance desktop replacement chassis with processors such as Intel Xeon E5 processors, NVIDIA Quadro K5000M graphics and Intel S3700 Solid State Drives that are able to support mission-critical products, server class operation as well as professional workstation operation. ners and an impact-resistant protective screen. Shock- and vibration-resistant solid-state drives (SSD) with combined capacity to 3.8 Terabytes make the RTR 2727 a reliable, portable field instrument. Available I/O includes audio and VGA video, RS-232/422/485 serial, multiple USB 2.0 and USB 3.0, eSATA and dual GbE connections. The built-in Windows Untitled-1 1 COTS Journal | August 2013 28

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7 Professional workstation with an Intel Core i7 processor gives the user total flexibility in routing data to various drives, networks and I/O channels. Also, the user can install post-processing and analysis tools on the system itself to operate on the recorded data. The RTS 2727 starts at $39,995.

Expansion for Custom I/O

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

Pentek Upper Saddle River, NJ. (201) 818-5900. [].

Panasonic Solutions Company Secaucus, NJ. (888) 223-1012. [].

Rave Computer Association Sterling Heights, MI. (800) 966-7283. [].

There’s a wide variety of custom I/O required in many mobile military applications. With that in mind, One Stop Systems has introduced the nanoCUBE expansion enclosure with Thunderbolt or PCIe expansion. The nanoCUBE supports a single PCIe x8 Gen3 short card, allowing you to add greater functionality to your laptop or workstation. This lightweight appliance is the ideal companion to a PC or workstation when you want to add a special I/O card today that you don’t have room for in a system and that military users can easily disconnect later. For example, adding a video editing card to the nanoCUBE creates a portable video editing appliance. Lightweight and whisper quiet, it’s ideal to accompany a laptop to field locations that may be noise-sensitive environments. Argon Great Neck , NY. (678) 608-4930. []. Eurocom Nepean, Ontario, Canada. (613) 224-6122. []. Getac USA Irvine, CA. (949) 681-2900. []. L-3 Communications New York, NY. (212) 697-1111. []. NextComputing Nashua, NH. (603) 886-3874. []. Untitled-1 1

PM August 2013 | COTS9/17/09 Journal3:09:1029

PC/104 and PC/104 Family Boards & 1553 Boards Gallery USB-AIO Series, USB Multifunction Analog Input/Output System

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SYSTEM DEVELOPMENT Embedded Development Tools for the Military

Architecting for Interoperability Smoothes System of Systems Challenges Developing scalable System of Systems implementations for the military is a hugely daunting task. By making the parts interoperable and well integrated early on, military system developers can keep such efforts manageable. Gordon Hunt, Chief Applications Engineer RTI


rchitecting systems and system of systems while satisfying the combined attributes of performance, scalability and reliability is hard. Adding desired non-functional requirements of interoperability, f lexibility, modularity and portability make the problem even more difficult. So imagine the challenge defense procurement agencies like the DoD and British MoD have taken on to address current and future procurements for systems. There is a radical shift in defense procurement thinking; instead of systems integrators, the DoD and MoD are starting to define and maintain the reusable Systems of Systems Architecture (SoSA) of electronic and software systems they wish to procure. By taking architectural ownership of the infrastructure of the System of Systems (SoS), they seek to evolve the market toward real open market competition for the functional subsystems. They are defining a fully Interoperable Open Architecture (IOA).

Interoperable and Integratable To be meaningfully interoperable, different systems built at different times, 32

COTS Journal | August 2013

with different hardware, different software architectures, different technologies and different uses of the data and system information, must be readily and meaningfully integratable. This does not mean, nor imply, interoperability by commonality, plug-and-play integration, or any other over-used promise of open architecture. Furthermore, this is not implying integration must be government-led. IOA is about integration without ambiguity, and the ability to achieve interoperability between systems—at scale, repeatedly, across system ownership boundaries. Practically, a tier 1 system integrator still takes responsibility for integrating all the subsystems together and for implementing the IOA, but against an architectural specification governed by the DoD or MoD. The key technical objectives that enable this commercial market change are the drive toward semantic interoperability, and by taking one of the historically key objectives of Open Architecture and making it the Key Performance Parameter (KPP). The goal is to reduce the cost of system procurement, but more im-

portantly, the cost of life-cycle maintenance and system integration costs. Programs that stand to reap these rewards through their adoption of IOA principles include the DoD UCS (UAS Control Segment), defining a common architecture for unmanned control stations; the MoD GVA (Generic Vehicle Architecture), defining a common architecture for armored vehicles; and FACE (Future Airborne Capability Environment), which is addressing the affordability initiative of today’s military aviation community. IOA is the natural progression of Open Architecture (OA) principles in defense procurement agencies. For over 10 years, defense procurement agencies have been asking for Open Architecture solutions from their supply chains, and the result has been the adoption of open standards, open systems (modularity and integratability) and COTS technologies. All of these are components of an OA, but unless they are brought together within an open infrastructure and an open semantics-based data model, the full benefits of Open Architecture cannot be realized by the DoD, MoD or the warfighter.


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Differences highlighted in YELLOW Government System Integrator Both Government and System Integrator Figure 1

Advanced programs have recognized that application portability is a goal, but that systemlevel interoperability is the higher order functionality that is needed.

Interoperability in System of Systems Interoperability is being brought to the top line as a delivery requirement where interoperability is more than a common infrastructure, common messages or COTS technologies. The DoD and MoD are mandating the data-centric architecture of systems they wish to procure. And that is a common systems architecture that clearly and unambiguously describes the data, its structure, its context and its behavior. They are doing this for systems specific domains like combat vehicles, Unmanned Control Systems and avionic flight control.

By mandating, managing and verifying interoperability, the MoD and DoD seek to closely align the defense market with the operation of open commercial markets. The most important commercial market benefit sought is open market competition for subsystem suppliers. Defense procurement seeks to foster investment ahead of specified requirements, driving differentiation through cost and innovation and building agility into the procurement process. The core technology-enabling tenet of this approach is the development of a common system of systems architecture that satisfies the system’s


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The system must have the ability to “wrap” and integrate legacy subsystems not originally built to the new Open Architecture. non-functional requirements. But commonality alone is insufficient to reap the agility and commercial benefits sought, because it does not necessarily facilitate the integration of new innovative capabilities with older “common” functionality, or explicitly identify the legitimate points of variation. To ensure these benefits are received, the MoD and DOD are mandating an Interoperable Open Architecture.

What Is IOA? IOA is a SoSA based upon open standards and open data models that deliver interoperability among subsys-

tems and applications built and procured at different times. The Open Data Model ensures a common semantics understanding of data without requiring common messaging. Open Standards allow defense procurement agencies to mandate and manage the infrastructure architecture. Across multiple program and standard developments, both the DoD and MoD identified that the key to achieving this level of interoperability is to control the data. Both have selected to use a system of systems data modeling approach. Defining a SoSA through its data creates a need for a data-centric infrastruc-

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ture and middleware open standard. To be an appropriate Open Standard for SoS integration, the standards body has to mandate both a wire protocol (for integratability) and programming interface (for portability). However, while this provides the basis for an interoperable OA, it is still insufficient. Communication and

connectivity may have been openly standardized, but the meaning of the information f low has not. Both the DoD with the UCS program, the MoD with the GVA program and the OpenGroup’s FACE program are seeking to be able to address this issue by defining a System Data Dictionary (SDD) (also known as a Data Model) that defines

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Interoperability in IOA To accomplish a fully interoperable SoSA, you need to achieve three levels of interoperability: Technical Interoperability: Bits and bytes are exchanged in an unambiguous manner via a set of standardized communication protocols. [Transports] Syntactic Interoperability: A common data format is defined for the unambiguous sharing of information. [Messages] Semantic Interoperability: The meaning of data is exchanged through a common information model and the meaning of information is unambiguously defined and shared. [Data] However, even if you enable all these capabilities in a SoS, you may not achieve an IOA. There is one more key

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content and context of the data that is communicated around the SoS. It is not a wire protocol or message set, but rather a full specification of the data and its meaning, which can then be instantiated appropriately on different technologies to exchange information. Included in this SDD is a set of metadata that defines the formation associated with every piece of data, and this semantic data contextualizes it, or allows it to be re-contextualized to the application using it. Some Open System programs have been focused on portability of applications. However, while they will deliver cost benefits in the first program, they will find as the functionality of one application evolves, or requirements change, or new capability is inserted, that portability is not interoperability. Introducing different capabilities and features will have a cascading domino effect of costly change requests through the SoS. Without the rigorous definition of the data and its semantic meaning, integration will always be ad hoc. Instead, advanced programs have recognized that application portability is a goal, but that system-level interoperability is the higher order functionality that is needed (Figure 1).

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step required. That is to delegate these levels of interoperability to the infrastructure. This is the core of realizing a data-centric architecture, which decouples systems—in content, context and behavior. Thus, data and interoperability can now be maintained, like the state, at the SoS level and not between two or more interoperating applications or subsystems. This is what enables scalable interoperability. Again, the means of associating interoperability with data and information f lows at the system level is to use a data-centric design approach. This is exactly what UCS, GVA and FACE have identified and are implementing. If your subsystem cannot speak the system data language, you are not interoperable.

Is the System Integrator Ready? These ideas represent a fundamental shift in procurement strategy and will have cultural, organizational and technical implications. Some systems integrators have been building out their own internal interoperable system of systems capabilities for the same commercial reasons that the MoD and DoD now want them. The difference is that the MoD and DoD need that interoperable environment to be open and common across suppliers of all sizes, whereas the supply chain wants it to be closed and proprietary, for obvious commercial through-life program reasons. The uncomfortable truth is that the System Integrators have been selling and reselling the nonfunctional component of the SoSs they supply. But now, the non-functional system architecture and resulting infrastructure will be reduced as a profit center for the supply chain, and integrators will compete on the efficacy of their implementations. In that context, the supply chain is not commercially ready. Therefore, the MoD and DoD are stepping forward carefully because a commercially healthy supply chain is critical to their operational capability. In addition, the MoD and DoD

are still refining and redefining their procurement processes to leverage this new approach. Managing a more open competitive market is an unfamiliar process and will take some considerable time to adopt, leverage and reorganize.

Drivers of Change The reason for this change is the economic imperative in combination with the changing warfare environment, spurred on by the more visible rate-of-change gap in technology supply between defense equipment and commercial offerings. Smartphones are a prime example. A few years ago our phone struggled to do much more than text and initiate and receive calls, and today they are fully f ledged computers capable of receiving video, tracking location and orientation and even measuring our heartbeat. The open application platform has enabled rapid accessibility of this change in compute capability, and in asymmetric warfare; the enemy is using this device quite effectively. Even more, our mobile contracts allow us to upgrade every 12-18 months to a new device with additional capabilities. Contrast this with change requests that take years to bubble up to requirements, expressed to defense procurement and eventually delivered by industry. But the real driver comes from the warfighter. That difference is felt in two ways. First is the individual warfighter’s technology expectations—in terms of capability and ease of upgrade—are being set by the commercial market, not by the defense industry itself. The enemy is able to access more high tech for less money, and those without defense industries to support them, are making effective use of advanced commercial technology and access to information. We live in a period where the asymmetric threat has never been greater. The normal government driven impetus to innovate and drive technology forward through defense requirements has been overtaken by the rapid technology

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cycles of the competitive commercial world. The procurement process needs to change. The rate at which capabilities are fielded to address the warfighter has to change. The middleware infrastructure is ready; system and data modeling technologies are ready; the open-standards supply chain is ready; and the defense supply chain is up to speed with the technology and is already leveraging it. The only difference going forward will be how integration will be managed. IOA introduces a shift from the current vertical integration strategy to a horizontal one. Everyone has fully open access to the infrastructure. In fact, the infrastructure could be acquired independently from the system functional components. The central commercial tenet that will deliver the efficiencies is competition enabled by DoD and MoD mandated systems interoperability. The lesson learned by defense procurement using OA over the last 10

years is that the benefits that should accrue to OA don’t happen unless defense procurement also mandates the integration strategy and does so in a way that enables unambiguous understanding of the data—not only its structure but also its semantic context and meaning. The traditional ICD/ IDD (Interface Control Document/ Interface Description Document) have been shown to be insufficient, as they only enable syntactic interoperability. The DoD and MoD are starting to define an IOA, and are taking ownership of those parts of the integration strategy that are necessary to ensure the delivery of interoperable SoSs. The system must have the ability to “wrap� and integrate legacy subsystems not originally built to the new Open Architecture (Figure 2).

tion strategy: Interoperable Open Architecture (IOA). Until recently, the economic imperative has lagged the technological capabilities. With the current economic environment, the economic pressure now drives architectural innovation in the same way that conf lict has traditionally driven technological innovation. The convergence of economic imperative with technological capabilities enables a new procurement strategy. IOA meets the need to get capabilities to the warfighter more rapidly, and with reduced costs. Unlike many previous efforts that have merely shifted costs and risks from one portion of a program to another, IOA promises to provide the benefits of open competition throughout the entire lifecycle of military procurement.

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COM Express Rides Wave of Integrated Electronic Systems As increasing levels of semiconductor integration enable ever more powerful computing in smaller spaces, the COM Express form factor is uniquely positioned to gain military mindshare. Jeff Child Editor-in-Chief


he 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 applicationspecific I/O on the baseboard. In many ways, COM boards have a guaranteed inside track for future success. That’s because the continual progression of semiconductor integration means that a single computing module will only get more powerful. And at the same time, the argument for a two-board solution— COM module and baseboard—only gets stronger as complete system electronics are possible on a single baseboard. That doesn’t mean other, larger solutions— like slot-card boards or stackable solutions like PC/104—are going away any time soon. But the mindshare COM Express can gain for military applications will keep increasing. COM Express’ comparison to PC/104—including PC/104 family specifications like PCI-104-Express and so on—is particularly relevant because both are suited for space- and weightconstrained applications. If a large stack 40

COTS Journal | August 2013

isn’t required for any reasons, the doublesided connectors of PC/104 are hard to justify because they are more costly than single-sided connectors used by COM Express. Beyond cost, double-sided connectors also use up more board space because single-sided connectors can have components placed on both sides of the board. A COM Express implementation has just two layers comprising a computer module and a carrier board. The carrier board incorporates all the custom I/O that would be in a PC/104 stack. Because space is a premium and more functionality is always in demand, Unmanned Ground Vehicles are an example of the kind of military application well suited to a COM Express solution (Figure 1). There are three COM Express module sizes to choose from to suit their individual application requirements. All signals are maintained on the carrier card, where additional connectors can be added as required per specific applications. As a macro-component, COM Express enables technology insertions without a large time or monetary investment, and supports easy upgrades through multiple product lifetimes. When COM Express was created, the spec planned for the expansion of video and display capabilities, and it provides standard connector access for a variety of high-speed interfaces. The COM Express connector supports multiple video interfaces including DisplayPort, VGA, SDVO, HDMI and DVI. This allows designers to take advantage of the latest graphics capabilities without having to worry about affecting performance. Another advantage of COM Express is that it lets users handle transitions from legacy connectors and offers native interface support for modern-day I/O interfaces. On top of offering more PCI Ex-

Figure 1

Built by iRobot, the PackBot is a series of Unmanned Ground Vehicles designed to inspect and clear suspicious objects during improvised explosive device (IED) sweeps. These systems generally include a remote controlled articulated arm with a gripper and a pan/tilt color surveillance camera. press and USB ports than PC/104-Express modules, additional connecters can be added for LAN, SATA, video, audio, USB and PCI Express, delivering maximum I/O flexibility to meet specific application requirements. Because signals don’t have to pass through multiple connectors, the signal integrity remains intact. Last summer PICMG announced that they adopted the 2.1 revision of the COM Express specification. That revision added new features and module sizes, and helped ensure that COM Express modules are prepared for future processors and high-speed I/O evolution while accommodating backward compatibility with older modules. Significant enhancements of the COM Express Revision 2.1 specification include standardization of new and smaller module sizes, extended power supply range and support of the latest graphics interfaces. USB 3.0 and CAN Bus support are also included.

TECHNOLOGY FOCUS: COM and COM Express Boards Roundup COM Express Type 6 Module Supports 3 Display Interfaces A high-performance COM.0 R2.0 Type 6 module features an Intel Core i7/i5/i3 processor supporting Intel HD Graphics integrated on the CPU with three independent displays. A PCI Express x16 Generation 3.0 bus is available for discrete graphics expansion or general purpose PCIe (optionally configured as 2 x8 or 1 x8 + 2 x4). The Express-IB from Adlink Technology targets applications in government, military, medical, digital signage and communications, and is attractive for customers with advanced processing performance and graphics requirements looking to reduce development

time by outsourcing the base design of their system and focusing on application functionality. The Express-IB supports Intel Advance Vector Extensions (Intel AVX v1.0) with its improved Floating Point Intensive Applications, and also offers the benefits of increased bandwidth provided by USB 3.0. New with the COM Express Type 6 module are three Digital Display Interface (DDI) ports supporting HDMI, DVI and DisplayPort outputs, in addition to legacy VGA and dual-channel 18/24-bit LVDS displays. The Express-IB also offers Gigabit Ethernet, up to four USB 3.0 ports, four USB 2.0 ports, two SATA 6 Gbit/s ports and two SATA 3 Gbit/s ports (RAID 0/1/5/10) and support for SMBus and I2C. The module is equipped with AMI EFI BIOS supporting remote console, CMOS backup, hardware monitor and watchdog timer. The Express-IB features the Intel Core i7/i5/i3 processor supporting Intel Hyperthreading Technology (4 cores, 8 threads) and up to 16 Gbyte of DDR3 dual-channel memory at 1333/1600 MHz on dual stacked SODIMM sockets to provide excellent overall performance. Intel Flexible Display Interface and Direct Media Interface provide high-speed connectivity to the Mobile Intel QM77 Express Chipset.

ADLINK San Jose, CA. (408) 360-0200. []. 42

COTS Journal | August 2013

Atom-Based COM Express Compact Module Targets Low Power A new COM Express compact CPU module is powered by the low-power Intel Atom N2600 and D2700 processors and is based on COM.0 R2.0 type 2 pin-out. Type 2 pin-out and legacy I/O support make for easy migration, and type 2 connectors are resistant to shock and vibration while offering high bandwidth and high-speed data transmission. The new SOM6765 offers ample performance with a focus on low power consumption—6 watts on a 95 x 95 mm module—and is suitable for a variety of

handheld and portable devices. SOM-6765 is based on the latest Intel Atom dual-core N2600 and D2700 processors, based on 32nm technology, which includes hardware HD decode and support for faster DDR3 1066 memory. SOM-6765 offers dual display output and various graphic interfaces such as LVDS, VGA and even Blu-ray via HDMI. An improved DDI function gives more flexibility to media design without interfering with the original COM.0 R2.0 type 2 specification. For expansion, SOM-6765 supports 2 PCIe x1, 4 x PCI masters and an optional 1 x PCIe x4 slot for performance demanding applications. There is a built-in Gigabit LAN on board for network-intensive applications. SOM-6765 also supports 2 x SATAII, 8 x USB2.0, LPC, SMBus, I2C Bus, EIDE and 8-bit GPIO. SOM-6765’s wide range temperature capability (-40° to 85°C) makes it super reliable so it can endure extreme environment requirements and applications.

Advantech Irvine, CA. (949) 789-7178. [].

Type 6 COM Express Card Sports 3rd Gen Core i7 A high-performance module design on a COM Express Compact (95 mm x 95 mm) form factor features mobile Intel Express QM77 PCH with 22nm third-generation quad-core/dualcore Intel Core i7/i5/i3 (formerly Ivy Bridge) processors, ECC DDR3 SDRAM, LVDS/Display Port, Gigabit Ethernet, USB 3.0, PCI-E Gen 3, SATA 3.0 and support for AMT 8.0. The new PCOM-B219VG Type 6 COM Express module from American Portwell offers an enhanced feature set, which includes Intel HD Graphics 4000 high-performance integrated graphics solution for three independent displays. It is

targeted for applications such as POS, lottery, network, military, medical, gaming, highresolution digital signage, surveillance security monitoring and kiosks. Other features include: CPU support for Gen 3 PCI-E x16; QM77 PCH that supports faster I/O interfaces on seven PCI-E lanes (four x1 can be configured to one x4 lane); power sharing technology between the CPU and graphics engine to maximize performance; support for four SATA ports (including two 6 Gbit/s ports and two 3 Gbit/s ports); display port (DP), HDMI and DVI supported with an increase of up 50 percent in 3D performance and 18X HD to HD transcode performance; and support for four USB 3.0 ports. The new PCOM-B219VG is an attractive choice for current COM Express Type VI customers using Atom or lower performance processors who suffer from space limitations and wish to upgrade their system performance.

American Portwell Fremont, CA (510) 403-3399. [].

COM and COM Express Boards Roundup

Qseven Starter Kit Offers Quick Way to ARM-Based Designs

EMX Form Factor SBC Enables Stackable COM Express

A new Qseven Starter Kit provides developers with a complete package to rapidly prototype embedded systems for ARM designs. Thanks to their compact size and extremely low power, Qseven embedded computer modules based on ARM architectures are a good solution for virtually any low-power or ultra-mobile embedded PC application. To minimize the development costs of such systems, congatec has combined all the necessary components in a comprehensive starter kit. The kit’s centerpiece is the new conga-QMX6 Qseven module, based on the Freescale i.MX6 ARM Cortex

EmbeddedXpress is a new form factor specification for embedded computers introduced by Diamond Systems that defines an efficient stackable I/O expansion. The EmbeddedXpress (EMX) form factor combines COM Express CPU modules with stackable I/O expansion in an SBC format. EMX boards offer increased flexibility and scalability, and a rugged EMX Basic 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

A9 processor. The module has an ingenious 3D-capable high-end HD graphics interface with extremely low power consumption. The integrated graphics core is designed for multimedia applications featuring a video processing unit (VPU), 2D and 3D graphics (GPU2D/3D), four shaders with up to 200 MT/s (million triangles/second) plus dual stream with 1080p/720p. The available graphics interfaces include HDMI v1.4 and 18/24-bit dual channel LVDS with a resolution of up to 1920x1200 (WUXGA). The starter kit also includes the flexible Qseven evaluation carrier board, conga-QEVAL and a matching 12V power adapter. With the supplied cable set, it takes just minutes to build a compact demo system. The conga-QEVAL is easy to integrate and offers multiple interfaces including five USB ports, a Gigabit Ethernet port, HDMI, 18/24-bit LVDS and a PCI Express socket. For the connection of mass storage devices, 1x SATA and SD card are integrated on the baseboard. The Qseven module itself provides a microSD socket, and as an optional extra, eight gigabytes of soldered solid state drive (eMMC) for robust applications.

implement the new EmbeddedXpress stackable I/O standard. 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.

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

Diamond Systems Mountain View, CA (800) 367-2104. [].

Rugged COM Express Module Boasts Small Size, High Performance A conduction- or air-cooled Mini COM Express module (55 mm x 84 mm) supports the Freescale QorIQ P2041 quad-core processor. The XPedite5650 from Extreme Engineering Solutions includes a quad-core processor, 4 Gbyte of memory, a ruggedized design, and is less than 7.2 square inches. It can thus provide the processing subsystem for a wide range of industrial, communications and military applications where size, weight and power (SWaP) are critical.

Designed and tested for harsh military, aerospace and industrial environments, the XPedite5650 includes enhancements above and beyond commercial COM Express modules. It provides a rugged and reliable COTS processor mezzanine solution that is designed and tested for operation from -40° to +85°C. It includes additional mounting holes for increased structural integrity and provides extended shock and vibration capabilities for operation in harsh environments. Conduction-cooled and air-cooled applications are supported by a single design. Soldered-down memory replaces less rugged/reliable SO-DIMMs, and the module utilizes a tin-lead manufacturing process to mitigate tin-whisker effects. The RoHS-compliant process is also available. The QorIQ P2041 processor with four PowerPC e500mc cores at up to 1.5 GHz comes with 2 Gbyte or 4 Gbyte of up to DDR3-1333 ECC SDRAM, one x2 and two x1 PCI Express interfaces, two Gigabit Ethernet ports (one 1000BASE-T and one 1000BASE-X), two serial ports, two USB 2.0 ports and two SATA 3.0 Gbit/s ports. Linux, Wind River VxWorks and Green Hills Integrity BSPs are available. Other RTOS solutions may be available on request.

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

August 2013 | COTS Journal


COM and COM Express Boards Roundup

Rugged Type 6 COM Express Module Sports PowerPC QorIQ CPU

COM Family with Freescale QorIQ Meets Compute-Intensive Needs

ESMini COM Features 1.6 GHz Atom at 5 to 7 Watts

GE Intelligent Platforms offers the bCOM6-P1100, which expands GE’s COM Express portfolio by adding a Freescale PowerPC processor, and also takes advantage of GE’s expertise in the optimization of thermal performance. GE specifically selected onboard components for their reliability in demanding conditions, and unlike solutions designed for benign environments, processor and memory are soldered to the board for maximum resistance to shock and vibration. Extended

COM Express modules offer a great solution for packing the highest density computing into upgradeable systems. A new family of COM Express-compliant Power Architecture processor modules features Freescale’s QorIQ 32-bit P2020 (COMe-cP2020) and the 64-bit P5020 (COMe-cP5020) processor. With its long-term availability of more than 10 years, fanless operation and support for the extended temperature range up to -40° to +70°C, the new modules are also designed to run in especially durable applications, even in harsh environments.

An ultra-small Computer-on-Module (COM) features an application-specific carrier board and a 1.6 GHz Intel Atom processor. The compact size of the semi-custom MM2 from MEN Micro, only 95 mm by 55 mm, combined with the Intel Atom E600 series processor and an EMC-proof enclosure, make the board suitable for industrial, harsh, mobile and mission-critical environments with high graphics requirements in small spaces. These include avionics, railway, agricultural or construction machines, medical engineering and industrial automation applications.

mechanical construction protects the module, which is designed for optional conformal coating for even greater resistance to moisture, dust, chemicals and temperature extremes. The small form factor of the COM Express architecture is attractive to organizations looking to deploy embedded computing in constrained environments, while its separation of processor and carrier board allows simple, cost-effective upgrades that enable optimum operation to be maintained, minimize re-qualification costs, maximize asset performance and decrease lifetime cost of ownership. For OEMs and systems integrators looking for solutions that deliver high performance coupled with low power consumption, the bCOM6-P1100 offers a range of two Freescale PowerPC QorIQ processor options, with performance between 800 MHz and 1.2 GHz (x2) and power consumption between 3.5W and 13.0W. Up to 8 Gbyte of DDR3 SDRAM with ECC can be configured, allowing the most demanding applications to be deployed.

The Kontron COMe-cP2020 in the COM Express compact (95 mm x 95 mm) form factor is based on the Freescale QorIQ P2020 dual-core power architecture with 1.2 GHz. The Kontron COMe-cP5020 in the COM Express basic (95 mm x 125 mm) form factor is based on the Freescale QorIQ P5020 dual-core power processor with 2.0 GHz. The board integrates up to 8 Gbytes of soldered DDR3 RAM at 1333 MHz and ECC. Two additional Mbytes of shared third-level cache facilitate core-tocore communications to minimize accesses to main memory. Common features to both Computer-on-Modules are up to 2 Gbytes of NAND Flash as well as a socket for MicroSD cards on the module to offer reliable storage space for application data. Flexible interface support is guaranteed by 4 (COMe-cP2020) or 18 (COMe-bP5020) SERDES lanes, which can be configured according to applicationspecific needs in a whole range of different combinations, for example as PCIe x4, sRIO x4 or Serial Gigabit Media Independent Interface (SGMII). The Kontron COMe-bP5020 also offers XAUI and SATA interfaces.

The Atom processor offers a total power consumption of 5W to 7W maximum and high I/O flexibility using the PCI Express standard for the processor-to-chip interface. In addition to operating in environments from -40° to +85°C, the new MM2 ESMini provides multiple I/O options to meet a wide range of specific end user requirements. Supporting both serial and legacy I/O, the board offers two PCI Express x1 links, LVDS and SDVO for graphic interfaces as well as high-definition audio, Ethernet, SATA, USB, two I2C, CAN bus and COM interfaces. MEN Micro’s new MM2 module can accommodate up to 2 Gbyte DDR2 SDRAM of directly soldered main memory with mass storage media supported on the carrier board. Each processor includes 512 Kbyte of L2 cache. The rugged, compact COM comes with a realtime clock and board management controller for temperature and power supervision. Every MM2 module comes equipped with rugged, industry-proven connectors supporting high frequency and differential signal connections. Conformal coating is available upon request. Pricing for the MM2 ESMini module is $805.

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

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

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


COTS Journal | August 2013

COM and COM Express Boards Roundup

Starter Kit Supports COM Express Cards with AMD APUs

Type 6 COM Express Card Supports -40° to +85°C Temps

Credit Card Sized COM Module Offers Compact Solution

MSC Embedded offers a complete starter kit for quick evaluation and prototyping of embedded systems based on COM Express modules with AMD Embedded R-Series Accelerated Processing Unit (APU). The intelligent starter kit MSC C6-SK-A7-T6T2 contains a COM Express Type 6 baseboard, an active heat sink with fan and two DDR3 memory modules. The COM Express Type 6 module platform MSC C6C-A7 from MSC integrates an Embedded R-Series APU from AMD and is characterized by very powerful graphics

Today’s military systems are demanding higher processing and graphics capabilities to ensure optimal situational awareness on the battlefield, as well as ECC memory to ensure data integrity for mission-critical applications. These consolidated systems must meet stringent size, weight and power restrictions while providing the processing capacity to combine legacy computers that support multiple, highquality displays. Radisys’ extended-temperature -40° to +85°C CEQM77 module with ECC memory is specifically designed and tested to withstand extreme military conditions and

The modular design approach allows for short time-to market, application-specific customization, simplified development, high stability and long life cycles for customers to rapidly develop new and exciting devices. With that in mind, VIA Technologies has an addition in the growing VIA Modular Solutions portfolio, the VIA COMe-8X91. Measuring 84 mm x 55 mm, the VIA COMe-8X91 is based on the industry standard Computer-on-Module (COM) Express Mini form factor with type 10 pin-outs. The module combines an 800 MHz VIA Eden X2 dual core processor and the VIA

and high parallel computing performance with low power dissipation. Today, there are four processor variants available. For power demanding applications, the MSC C6C-A7 computer-on-modules integrate an AMD R-460L 2.0 GHz (2.8 GHz Turbo) or AMD R-452L 1.6 GHz (2.4 GHz Turbo) quad-core processors. The thermal design power (TDP) levels are 25W and 19W, respectively. The two dual-core versions are populated with the AMD R-260H 2.1 GHz (2.6 GHz Turbo) processor or the AMD R-252F 1.7 GHz (2.3 GHz Turbo) processor—each featuring 17W TDP. The processors support the AMD64 technology and the AMD-V virtualization technology. The Radeon HD7000G-Series graphics engine integrated into the AMD R-Series APU support DirectX 11, OpenGL 4.2 and OpenCL 1.1. With DisplayPort and HDMI interfaces with resolutions of up to 4096 x 2160 (DP) or 1920 x 1200 (HDMI), along with LVDS, Embedded DisplayPort and VGA interfaces, the MSC C6C-A7 modules offer comprehensive display support. The COM Express Type 6 module family has six PCI Express x1 channels and a PCI Express graphics (PEG) x 8 interface. The starter kit is available now at $495. The cost-optimized modules are available from $290.

meet the processing-intensive needs for these applications. The CEQM77 combines a 3rd generation quad-core performance Intel Core i7 processor and the Mobile Intel QM77 Express chipset with Radisys design expertise to provide breakthrough processing performance on a basic size Type 6 COM Express Revision 2.0 module. The basic size 95 mm x 125 mm module is ideal for compute-intensive applications such as medical imaging, communications, military/aerospace, and test and measurement applications that require high levels of processing performance. Radisys delivers the CEQM77 module in a COM Express Revision 2.0, Type 6 pin-out, enabling customers to take advantage of new technology such as Digital Display Ports while boosting features and performance with up to 16 Gbyte memory, additional PCI Express lanes, and improved storage, graphics and audio. The CEQM77 module provides Trusted Platform Module (TPM) support as well as support for Intel Advanced Management Technology (AMT), enabling remote access and diagnostics via the Radisys Embedded Software Platform (ESP).

VX900 media system processor (MSP). In addition, with the VIA COMe-8X91 module, VIA offers a comprehensive starter kit, including a multi-I/O carrier board reference design, board support packages (BSPs), display, system monitoring tools/SDKs and design guide. Available in the industry standard COM Express Mini form factor of 84 mm x 55mm, the VIA COMe-8X91 module pairs an 800 MHz VIA Eden X2 dual core processor and the VIA VX900 MSP for a low-power, high-performance platform. The VIA COMe-8X91 module offers support for the latest connectivity standards including 18/24-bit single-channel LVDS and either one DisplayPort or one HDMI port (without HDCP). Onboard I/O includes two SATA II ports, one GigaLAN port, eight USB 2.0 ports shared with one USB client port, one HD audio digital interface and two serial ports. System memory includes 1 Gbyte of onboard DDR3.

MSC Embedded Computer Technology San Bruno, CA. (650) 616-4068. [].

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

RadiSys Hillsboro, OR. (503) 615-1100. [].

August 2013 | COTS Journal




OpenVPX Product Line Slashes Power Requirements and Costs Pentek has announced the 52xxx board family as power- and cost-reduced versions of the 53xxx family of products. These compact 3U OpenVPX software radio modules incorporate Xilinx Virtex-6 and Virtex-7 FPGAs for onboard signal processing. The 52xxx boards represent a complete family of ruggedized and commercial grade boards for high-performance military and avionics applications utilizing the industry’s most advanced FPGA technology. By combining processing, data conversion and preconfigured functions, the 52xxx family is suitable for such applications as signal intelligence (SIGINT) and communications intelligence (COMINT) receivers for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), airborne communication transceivers and radar countermeasures, shipboard diversity transceivers and armored vehicle anti-improvised explosive devices (IED) systems. The 15watt power savings boosts packaging densities, processing efficiencies and overall system performance. Pentek’s 52xxx OpenVPX modules support VPX REDI (VITA 48) and feature the ruggedized construction and extended temperature options essential for military equipment. The products are available in commercial and rugged packages, with air-cooled and conduction-cooled options. The modules support PCIe x4 over the VPX P1 connector, a popular configuration for 3U OpenVPX modules. The 52xxx modules are fully compatible with Pentek’s 53xxx 3U OpenVPX modules, which include a fully programmable serial fabric crossbar switch. All 52xxx OpenVPX products are available with a choice of Xilinx Virtex-6 or Virtex-7 FPGA devices to match the application. Other common features include PCIe (Gen 2) interfaces up to four lanes wide, synchronous clocking locked to an external system reference, and an LVPECL synch bus for synchronizing multiple modules to increase channel count. The 52xxx 3U OpenVPX module pricing starts at $11,595.

Pentek, Upper Saddle River, NJ. (201) 818-5900. [].

3-Phase Rugged UPS Has Hot Swappable Batteries

Power over Ethernet Modules Enable Monitoring and Control

IntelliPower has added a new Power Converter for Airborne Communication Applications to provide clean stable power to sensitive electronic equipment from aircraft engines or Auxiliary Power Units (APUs). The system input is 3-Phase 115 VAC, 400 Hz and the output is 28 VDC at 2500 watts. The system provides input to output isolation and 3-Phase power factor correction. An LCD front control panel provides user interface for monitoring status and alarms. The system is 3U, 24-inches deep, and is designed and manufactured to meet MILSTDs 461F and 810F.

Sealevel Systems has announced two new “eI/O” products available with and without Power over Ethernet. Featuring analog and dry contact inputs and solid-state relays, Sealevel’s eI/O products provide system designers with a compact, cost-effective alternative for monitoring and control. Control and monitor eight 12-bit analog inputs, two optically isolated digital inputs and two solid-state relay outputs via any 10/100BaseT Ethernet connection with the eI/O-170E multifunction I/O module. The module provides eight single-ended or four differential A/D inputs that are software configurable for 0-5V, 0-10V, +/-5V and +/-10V ranges. Standard operating temperature range of eI/O modules is 0°C to 70°C.

IntelliPower, Orange, CA. (714) 921-1580. [].

Sealevel Systems, Liberty, SC. (864) 843-4343. [].

GPU-Accelerated Platform Targets Geospatial Intelligence Analyst Needs NVIDIA has launched the NVIDIA GeoInt (Geospatial Intelligence) Accelerator, the world’s first GPUaccelerated platform to enable security analysts to find actionable insights quicker and more accurately than ever before from vast quantities of raw data, images and video. The NVIDIA GeoInt Accelerator provides defense and homeland analysts with tools that enable faster processing of high-resolution satellite imagery, facial recognition in surveillance video, combat mission planning using geographic information system (GIS) data, and object recognition in video collected by drones. It offers a complete solution consisting of an NVIDIA Tesla GPU accelerated system, software applications for geospatial intelligence analysis, and advanced application development libraries. Its Luciad Lightspeed function provides situational awareness for mission planning by overlaying image, radar and sensor data for line-of-sight analysis. A GeoWeb 3D function delivers native 3D GIS fusion—including LIDAR remote sensing technology and full motion video—without preprocessing. The GeoInt Accelerator also features a number of libraries that serve as building blocks for defense contractors and system integrators to build their own applications for GPU-accelerated image, video and signal processing. NVIDIA GPU accelerators are already widely used in the defense industry for imaging, video and signal processing.

NVIDIA, Santa Clara, CA. (408) 486-2000. []. 46

COTS Journal | August 2013

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Coming Next Month Special Feature: Military Storage Hierarchies: From RAID to SSDs High-bandwidth sensor platforms on UAVs, satellites and other systems are bringing in a deluge of data. This is making military data storage a more mission-critical function than ever before. Memory arrays comprised of RAID module, rotating disks, SSD and sophisticated interfaces are being tasked to manage and store massive amounts of data. This section explores the key technology and product trends in military data storage. Tech Recon: VPX, VXS and VME FPGA Boards in Radar and SIGINT Once used merely as glue-logic, FPGAs are now complete systems on a chip. And now that many of them even have general purpose CPU cores on them, the military is hungry to use FPGAs to fill processing roles. As the signal processing capabilities of FPGAs continue to climb, they’ve become key enablers for waveform-intensive applications like sonar, radar, SIGINT and SDR. This feature section delves into the VPX, VXS and VME solutions available in this area, and explores how they’re transforming military processor-based systems. COTS Journal Exclusive: Designing at the System-to-System Level: The Industry’s New Challenge Budget shifts and an increasing focus on platform electronics in deliverable systems demand the use of the latest and most cost-effective electronics technology. These program-level issues span a host of areas including choice of backplane-based solutions vs. single packaged systems, open architecture vs proprietary, program-level thermal and power management, EMI, Multiple Independent Layers of Security and so on. This special series of articles focuses on those program-level technology trends that are tightly linked to technology decision making. These articles look through a lens of program requirements and matching particular program needs to technology solutions. Tech Focus: EBX, ETX and ITX SBCs The magic of semiconductor integration has enabled complete computing systems to be built on bus-less single board form factors. EBX, ETX and ITX are the standard embedded computing form factors that exemplifying this trend. Military system developers have a wide range of product choices to consider among those maturing technology offerings. This Tech Focus section updates readers on these trends and provides a product album of representative EBX, ETX and ITX SBCs products. 48

COTS Journal | August 2013


EDITORIAL Jeff Child, Editor-in-Chief

Beware the After-Thinker


heard an anecdote recently about an aircraft cockpit upgrade design. The new electronics in the cockpit met all the functional requirements of the contract, but because the power needs were left as an afterthought, insufficient power was left over for proper air-conditioning in the cockpit. The problem wasn’t indentified until a pilot got involved in evaluating the “final” system. As a result, the whole system required significant redesign resulting in cost and schedule overruns. These sorts of misunderstandings are never intentional. In my interactions with all levels of the technology food chain in the defense industry, I can honestly say that everyone exhibits the highest respect for the ultimate end-user: the warfighter. There’s a common awareness that at the end of the day these military platforms are built and procured to help our warfighters better accomplish their jobs while serving so excellently and sacrificing so much for our nation. However, problems do creep in when— whether for budget reasons, program management screw-ups or engineering mistakes—important considerations are left as afterthoughts. Sometimes these are the result of just a lack of awareness of technologies and product solutions that are available. This idea of unnecessarily involving the warfighter in system design and test phases came up again when I sat down recently with Steve Sargeant, CEO of Marvin Test Solutions. Having attained rank of Major General in the U.S. Air Force, he has seen this issue up close. Sargeant explained how there’s a definite gap with testing aircraft armaments. In the case of the A-10C, the flightline test equipment that is needed to validate the alignment and proper functioning of the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) does not exist. Instead, pilots are required to taxi the aircraft around the airfield to perform this important JDAM load procedure. In a similar way, the F-35 also requires pilots to complete JDAM validation functions by taxing the aircraft for maintenance. This combination of advanced smart armament and munitions—combined with obsolete or inadequate test equipment deployed on the flightline—has created an armament test gap because of the inability of today’s O-Level testers to provide the necessary tools to test and maintain armament and munitions. According to Sargeant, the U. S. Navy and U. S. Marine Corps experience the same armament test gap on their aircraft and resultant inefficiencies. This is another example of the military getting itself in an inefficient situation because test technology was left as an afterthought. The technology supplier industry has solutions to problems such as this, but it’s a matter of connecting the dots. Marvin Test Solutions developed, qualified and successfully de50

COTS Journal | August 2013

ployed an O-Level tester across legacy aircraft and is planning to do the same for 5th generation aircraft. The unit provides maintainers with the necessary tools to adequately test and troubleshoot today’s aircraft loaded with legacy and smart weapons. It can perform pre-load tests by emulating the weapon—including a JDAM—and is able to verify full operational capability of the systems it tests. Situations like that and similar ones bring me back to a rant I often find myself resurrecting: the problem that our industry of technology suppliers and the upper tier defense prime contractors have few forums in which to interact and share information. Companies like Marvin Test Solutions are good about connecting with the organizations that need their technology, but such skills are more rare than you’d think. Magazines such as COTS Journal are tools that have improved matters, but the problem is still pervasive. Technology decision makers at the primes just simply are not as aware of our industry’s technology and product offerings as they should be. Conferences and trade shows have gotten better at addressing the gap, but there’s still a long way to go. While there are many, many technology shows, and many, many shows focused on the military, there are surprisingly few that overlap both to any degree. A couple exceptions are MILCOM, AUVSI, and to a lesser extent AUSA. MILCOM over the past several years has evolved from a show with mostly only primes and niche communications gear suppliers, to today where about a third of the exhibitors are companies from our military embedded computing industry. At the other end of the spectrum are small tabletop technology shows that are regional and suited for attendees to drop in and touch and feel products. Our company’s RTECC shows are the premier example along those lines, and the only successful show series of its type in our industry space. While these events are not military-specific, the percent of engineers from the defense industry is typically very high. And in this era of constrained travel budgets in the defense arena, these local shows are more vital than ever. Part of fixing a problem is identifying it. And that includes this problem of different segments of the defense industry not having enough awareness of one another. Obviously COTS Journal and our parent company the RTC Group are in the business of connecting those industry segments—which we do by providing a platform that delivers key editorial information, ads and events centered around technologies that are critical for developing military systems based on embedded computing and electronics. Hopefully we can continue to help close the gap.


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COTS Journal  

August 2013

COTS Journal  

August 2013