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The Journal of Military Electronics & Computing


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Volume 15 Number 11 November 2013

You need it. We build it. 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.

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The Journal of Military Electronics & Computing


Choices Gel for Small Form Factor Box-Level Standards

CONTENTS November 2013

Volume 15

Departments 6 Publisher’s Notebook Washington’s Three Ring Circus

Number 11

SPECIAL FEATURE Small Form Factor Box Systems and Standards

10  Choices Gel for Small Form Factor Box-Level Standards Jeff Child


PC/104 vs. COM Express for Rugged, SFF Military Systems*


The Inside Track


COTS Products

50 Editorial An Army with Hurdles Aplenty

JC Ramirez, ADL Embedded Solutions

TECH RECON GPGPU vs. Traditional Processing for Radar Systems

20  GPGPUs Vie with Traditional Processing for Radar Systems Marc Couture, Mercury Systems

28  GPUs Offer Dual Solution for Radar and Video Display Function* Dr. David G. Johnson, Cambridge Pixel

SYSTEM DEVELOPMENT Embedded Technologies Meet Space-Based Challenges

34  ISS Video System Upgrade Leverages Multicore SBC Technology* Brian K. Widgren, Teledyne Brown Engineering Jim Renehan, Trenton Systems

TECHNOLOGY FOCUS High Reliability Power Supplies

38  Power Supplies and Converters Meet a Variety of Mission-Critical Needs Jeff Child


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 customer-paid 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.

High Reliability Power Supplies Roundup

*Special web-exclusive extended content for these articles on Digital subscriptions available:

Coming in December See Page 48 On The Cover: One main application area for the new set of small form factor box-level system standards is the military ground vehicle. Such vehicles are using an ever greater amount of electronics and computing. An example of such a vehicle is the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV). Shown here is Lockheed Martin’s JLTV prototype during a 2008 test. More than half of such tests are conducted off-road to simulate actual mission conditions. (Photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin)


The Journal of Military Electronics & Computing


Publisher PRESIDENT John Reardon, PUBLISHER Pete Yeatman,

Editorial EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Jeff Child,

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COTS Journal HOME OFFICE The RTC Group, 905 Calle Amanecer, Suite 250, San Clemente, CA 92673 Phone: (949) 226-2000 Fax: (949) 226-2050, EDITORIAL OFFICE Jeff Child, Editor-in-Chief 20A Northwest Blvd., PMB#137, Nashua, NH 03063 Phone: (603) 429-8301 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.


COTS Journal | November 2013

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NOTEBOOK Washington’s Three Ring Circus


ust as our small market segment begins to feel that things are starting to improve, Congress goes and shuts down the government. So now we have a government shutdown, the effects of last year’s sequestration bite, another sequestration bite this coming year, a failure to raise the debt limit, and a military budget proposal that takes none of these realities into account. Prime contractors have been adjusting for the last two years to compensate for reduction in funding. Many still managed to report better than expected 2nd quarter earnings per share. Most of these earnings were the result of anticipated cuts in workers and other overhead costs. There doesn’t appear to be the same luxury ahead for the coming year and shareholders might be wise to consider preparing for some pain. The military had to cut $37 billion sequestration dollars out of the 2013 budget. However, due to when funds are allocated and actually spent, the real number ended up a lot lower. This year there are less available funds shifting and the military has to cut $52 billion. Many of the more severe 2013 cuts were in training, R&D and some civilian furloughs. Things will be harder this coming year. We need to actually cancel some programs, close some bases and reorganize to make the military overhead more efficient. We also have to eliminate administrative civilian and uniformed positions. Actions need to be based on what is best for the military. Many of these required actions will be very unpopular by Senators and Congressmen—as well as senior military staff. Looming 2014 mid-term elections and Congress’ recent performance should produce nothing more than political maneuvering from many of our elected officials. Rather than making hard decisions, budget “salami slicing,” as it’s commonly called, will be the first choice for dealing with the 2014 reductions—trying to cut every segment by another 10 percent. Those items that can’t be cut will have their cuts drawn from other areas. Many subcontractors to the primes will be hit hard. This will be most evident in companies that supply products or services that are not highly technical or require development investment. In contrast, the embedded electronics market segment will more than likely continue to improve. Our suppliers have the ability, willingness and investment in highly technical product design development. That’s a costly speculative function for primes and a concept of little interest to them at this time. The fact that sequestration and the mil budget in general have had little visible impact on the military and have been barely no6

COTS Journal | November 2013

ticeable to the general public, has limited any public outcry. Until there is a major impact on either employment or military readiness things will continue as they are. There will be greater outcry for shutting down the national parks, FDA, HUD, the EPA and others. It seems Congress was smart enough before implementing this shutdown to ensure that they didn’t shut down things like the FAA or anything that would visibly inconvenience a large group of people. What is baffling is that sequestration requires defense to cut an amount equal to what is required to be cut from domestic spending. You hear little if anything about what is being cut from domestic programs. Maybe that’s because the nonmilitary federal budget is so much larger than the defense budget and the cuts are barely noticeable. A decade or two ago pundits could have predicted how long this Congressional constipation would go on, or how long the game of chicken with the administration would continue. Things are now so screwed up that only a fool would comment on these goings-on. If you want to have fun, video record the news pundits, wait four days and then replay what they predicted four days earlier. Our small corner of the military industry—the embedded market—is in one of the luckier areas. That being said, if all the contracts you’ve bid on or were part of have vaporized then you don’t feel so lucky. Finding programs that have funding and are critical is hard work but key to success. New and large extravagant programs are the ones in greatest jeopardy. Programs that are more modest and a continuance or upgrade are the ones with the highest probability to receive on-going and future funding. The fact that our industry mostly pays for its own product development and provides highly technical products means that we are more needed by the primes and much less disposable then other subcontractors. We need to keep our heads up and stay focused while this three-ring circus plays out in Washington.

Pete Yeatman, Publisher COTS Journal

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INSIDE TRACK Lockheed Martin’s Aegis BMD System Completes Highest Target Intercept Yet The Missile Defense Agency (MDA), U.S. Navy and Lockheed Martin successfully intercepted a threat representative, medium-range, separating ballistic missile target using the second generation Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) weapon system and SM-3 Block IB guided missile. This operational test, known as Flight Test - Standard Missile-22 (FTM-22), involved successfully launching, tracking and engaging the newest medium-range ballistic missile target configuration. Building on the success of last month’s test (FTM-21), FTM-22 marked the eleventh time the USS Lake Erie (CG 70) (Figure 1) and crew have successfully performed in Navy and MDA at-sea test events against cruise and ballistic missile targets using the second generation Aegis BMD System. The Aegis BMD 4.0.X configuration enables the Navy to quickly defeat sophisticated ballistic missile threats by integrating sensors from space, land and sea for persistent and reliable detection. The central component of the Lockheed Martin-developed Aegis BMD Combat System is the SPY-1 radar. The Missile Defense Agency and Navy are jointly developing Aegis BMD as part of the U.S. Ballistic Missile Defense System. Currently, 27 Aegis BMD-equipped warships have the certified capability to engage ballistic missiles and perform long-range surveillance and tracking missions.

The USS Lake Erie (CG 70) using the Aegis BMD 4.0.X configuration has completed its eleventh missile intercept test in Sept. Shown here is the Lake Erie back in May when it completed its third consecutive intercept test of the SM-3 Block IB missile.

Lockheed Martin Bethesda, MD. (301) 897-6000. [].

Mercury Systems Gets U.S. Navy Contract Award for DRFM Jammers Mercury Systems announced that its Mercury Defense Systems (MDS) subsidiary has received a $3.9 million initial contract award against its 5-year sole source basic ordering agreement (BOA) to deliver advanced Digital RF Memory (DRFM) jammers to the U.S. Navy. The order is expected to be shipped by the end of Mercury’s fiscal 2015 third quarter. The jammers will be delivered to the U.S. Navy at Pt. Mugu, CA, in support of training asset requirements (Figure 2). Through this and subsequent BOA contract awards, MDS and the U.S. Navy will continue development of stateof-the-art techniques and target generation capabilities in conjunction with the advanced DRFM 8

Figure 1

Curtiss-Wright Acquires Rugged Computing Vendor Parvus

Figure 2

Point Mugu hosts one of the Department of the Navy’s premier sea ranges, which includes San Nicolas Island. architecture developed under a prior Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II.5 award previously issued to KOR Electronics, now Mercury Defense Systems. Mercury Systems Chelmsford, MA. (866) 627-6951. [].

COTS Journal | November 2013

Curtiss-Wright Controls announced that it has acquired 100% of the shares of Parvus, a business unit of Eurotech S.p.A., for $38 million in cash. Parvus is a leading designer and manufacturer of rugged small form factor computers and communications subsystems for the aerospace, defense, homeland security and industrial markets. The acquired business will operate within Curtiss-Wright’s Controls segment. Founded in 1983, Parvus is a recognized leader in the design and manufacture of open standard-based modules and systems for C4ISR (Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) applications in the defense market and various

applications in the aerospace, homeland security and general industrial markets. The company’s SWaP-optimized solutions, including Rugged Processor Systems, Mobile Networking Subsystems and Industrial Grade Board-Level PC/104 Modules, are used in critical defense applications such as unmanned systems and tactical C4ISR payloads. Parvus, headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah, has approximately 50 employees and is expected to generate sales of approximately $23 million in 2013. Curtiss-Wright Controls Charlotte, NC. (704) 869-4600. [].


INSIDE TRACK Raytheon Demos New Seeker Technology for Tomahawk Block IV Missile

Raytheon Waltham, MA. (781) 522-3000. [].

Figure 3

The seeker module incorporates a state-of-the-art processor and antenna to enable the Tomahawk Block IV locate and track moving and fixed emitting targets.















AGR (%)

Sales $bn

Raytheon has completed a successful field test of an advanced Electronic Support Measure (ESM) seeker installed in a Block IV Tomahawk missile as part of the company’s new product improvement program. The ESM seeker incorporates a state-of-the-art processor and antenna to locate and track moving and fixed emitting targets. The seeker’s capability was validated in a realistic high-density environment after seven months of testing in anechoic chambers. Raytheon continues to work with the U.S. Navy to evaluate Tomahawk’s technical and operational capabilities, while using cost-efficient manufacturing processes. A major enhancement introduced with the Tomahawk Block IV missile includes a twoway satellite data-link that enables a strike controller to redirect the missile in-flight to preprogrammed alternate targets or more critical targets (Figure 3). The new multi-mode seeker technology would allow the Navy’s Surface Action Group to fire Tomahawks from sanctuary and defeat mobile threats at long range.

Global C2/C4ISR Systems Land Based Submarket Forecast 2013-2023 ($bn, AGR %)


0 2012





2017 2018 Year



2021 Land

2022 2023 AGR (%)

Figure 4

As forecasted here, the land segment of the global C2/C4ISR market is expected to enjoy steady growth over the next decade.

Military Market Watch C2/C4ISR Market Forecasted to be Worth $79.1 Billion in 2013 In the coming years it is expected that armed forces will take a more technologically centric approach to procurement. C2/C4ISR systems are expected to play a crucial role in this increased utility of technology. C2/C4ISR systems are invaluable to modern militaries and are increasingly becoming the backbone of operational planning. Many militaries around the world are modernizing their C2/C4ISR systems while at the same time reducing barrier of entry to those technologies have allowed an increased investment in those systems. The latest defense report from ASD Media, The C2/C4ISR Systems Market 2013-2023 finds substantial and steadily increasing spending in this area over the forecast period of 2013-2023. This study assesses that global spending on military C2/C4ISR will amount to $79.1 billion in 2013, or the start of the forecast period covered by this report (Figure 4). The report features tables and charts that illustrate key trends in the C2/C4ISR market at the global level, five key submarkets, and in 17 leading national markets. Comprehensive tables reveal C2/C4ISR contracts in these leading national markets. The report also includes an exclusive interview with Elta Systems informing the analysis, and profiles 21 of the leading C2/C4ISR companies. The ability to acquire vast amounts of data and intelligence from many different sources, analyze it and display it in real time is a key advantage in understanding the theater of war and environment a military finds itself in. C2/C4ISR systems allow this collection of data to occur, and subsequently provide communication and command between the military hierarchy. C2/C4ISR systems have become the backbone to a modern armed force. The reducing barriers of entry to these high-cost investments and the increasing reliance upon their utility have seen a marked rise in C2/C4ISR systems demand in recent years. ASD Media Amsterdam, The Netherlands. +31 (0)20 486 1286. [].

November 2013 | COTS Journal


SPECIAL FEATURE Small Form Factor Box Systems and Standards


COTS Journal | November 2013

Choices Gel for Small Form Factor BoxLevel Standards While spec efforts have moved slowly and at different paces, standards-based rugged box systems are on track to become a reality for military platform developers. Jeff Child Editor-in-Chief


ith the military hungry for a more complete integrated level solution, rugged box-level systems have moved to center stage in today’s military embedded computing market. These solutions are edging out traditional backplanecentric slot card system architectures in many military platforms. This box-level system trend is dominating wherever size, weight and power are priority concerns, and in particular in UAVs and military vehicle electronic systems. Rugged box-level systems span a wide range of formats, sizes and configurations with a wealth of non-standard formats that have emerged. Efforts to standardization on the mechanical format or I/O configurations between vendors of these products have been fairly slow. The most visible of those efforts are the so-called Small Form Factor standards, which include a handful of VITA specifications that have been underway for the past couple years. Among the non-standard side of rugged box-systems, one relatively recent trend is the emergence of compact, enclosed boxlevel systems that offer a much smaller footprint than ATR boxes, for example, such as the XPand6104 from Extreme Engineering Solutions (Figure 1). The unit’s small form factor (SFF) system with commercial connectors can be used as a COM Express development platform, a deployable SFF system, or a demo platform for applications requiring a high-performance Intel Core i7 processor solution. It comes in a natural convection-cooled SFF enclosure with dimensions of 2.10 in. (H) x 4.88 in. (W) x 7.70 in. (L) and weighing less than 4 lbs. It includes an XPedite7450 Intel Core i7 ruggedized COM Express module and an optional 1.8-in. SSD. The front panel features an RJ-45 Ethernet connector to a 10/100/1000BASE-T Gigabit Ethernet port, a USB 2.0 connector to a USB 2.0 port, and an eSATA connector to a SATA 3.0 Gbit/s port. November 2013 | COTS Journal



Figure 1

The XPand6104 small form factor (SFF) system with commercial connectors can be used as a COM Express development platform, a deployable SFF system, or a demo platform for applications requiring a high-performance Intel Core i7 processing solution.

Figure 2

The NanoSWITCH is a rugged, multilayer Gigabit Ethernet switch system. It can be ordered in various configurations, ranging from a simple Layer 2 switch to a fully managed Layer 2/3 switch and router.

Three Small Form Factor Initiatives

On the standard-based side, three VITA draft specification efforts have been in the works in the past year or more: VITA 73, VITA 74 and VITA 75. Each is different in terms of the vendors backing them and in their relative stages of product development and standardization. Those VITA working groups are in various stages of completing their specifications. The VITA 73 Small Form Factor working group is awaiting feedback from customers who are trying out VITA 73-based products. Meanwhile, products based on VITA 74 (Nano Small Form Factor) are also in evaluation while work nears completion on the specification. And late last year VITA 75 (Rugged Small Form Factor) moved into trial use status, again with the goal of getting feedback from potential customers. VITA 73 ranks as perhaps the most 12

COTS Journal | November 2013

single-vendor driven of the three standards. Introduced by PCI-Systems, VITA 73 has a footprint 4.5 x 4 x 6 inches in an 8-slot configuration. It’s based off the VPX (VITA 46/48) electrical standard with no edge connectors used. It has a high-speed Gen2 PCIe backplane and offers 10 Gbyte/s module to backplane transfers. The spec has three passive backplane profiles and unlimited active backplane mezzanine capability.

Focus of Flexibility

According to PCI-Systems, VITA 73 enables designers to connect and configure everything as they wish by only changing out the design of the backplane mezzanine. A designer can place anything from an FPGA to switches to optical module interconnects there to meet any customer’s demands without confusing them with backplane profiles for each and every different application. The VITA 73 working group does not define a chassis, only modules and backplanes. Describing only footprints, stackups and pin locations lets the integrator build chassis variants that fit into any space, all the way to making the chassis an integral structural component on any application. PCI-Systems offers a full line of VITA 73 products including the VITA 73 development kit. The kit enables system developers to begin development of systems according to the VITA 73 draft specification 0.5, which can be downloaded from the VITA website. The chassis is NEMA 4x rated and MILSTD-810f tested if used with MIL connectors. The standard development kit is with 8 slots. Mechanical carriers and general specs are included so you can begin design work immediately. Included is the 8-slot chassis, power supply, backplane, Rear I/O mezzanine carriers (in the standard “x” lightweight SATA version), and mechanical add-on carriers for other slots. It has a PCIe GEN2 twopart modular backplane with power supply slot on the left side and CPU slot on the right side. Four slots with x4 lane PCIe each are designed with Gen2 PCIe “NoStub” technology. PCI-Systems’ most recent development in VITA 73 is an offering featuring x16 links on each slot.

The Nano Approach with VITA 74

Next up, VITA 74 provides a standard mechanical format for standardization of

switched serial interconnects for small form factor applications, with specific concern taken to allow deployment in ruggedized environments. Created and driven by Themis Computers, the VITA 74 spec was inspired by the company’s NanoATR system. The unit has a fully sealed, conduction-cooled chassis with two 19 mm and two 12.5 mm payload slots, a storage slot, and a dedicated connector panel-PSU slot in a small, light footprint that optimizes size, weight, power and cooling. The front panel can be equipped with either circular MIL or standard rectangular connectors. Other vendors with VITA 74 products include VectorNAV and CES. For its part CES offers the VIP-7412, a VITA 74 small form factor video I/O and processor module. Themis Computer’s most recent VITA 74 offerings, both announced last month, are a new SFF Rugged Gigabit Ethernet Switch and an i7 version of the SFF NanoPAK. The Themis NanoSWITCH is a rugged, multilayer Gigabit Ethernet switch system (Figure 2). The NanoSWITCH may be ordered in various configurations, ranging from a simple Layer 2 switch to a fully managed Layer 2/3 switch and router. An optional Auxiliary Gateway Processor can be added, along with CAN Bus, MIL-STD-1553, SAASM GPS, SINCGARS and HAVEQUICK Interfaces, PTP and MEMS Inertial Measurement Unit, to build the NanoSWITCH as an all-in-one centralized network switch and controller for military and industrial applications. Typical applications include: intra-vehicle network switching; distributed architecture vehicle controller; and VICTORY-compliant switch, router, timing and control. The standard NanoSWITCH provides 10x Gigabit Ethernet ports that operate at rates of 10, 100 and 1000 Mbits/s. A full management suite is included, as well as a Command Line Interface (CLI) for managed switch and routing operations. The NanoSWITCH supports sophisticated IPv4 and IPv6 routing and tunneling, as well as the latest L2/L3 VPN services, and IETF, IEEE and DSL Forum standards.

VITA 75 Dot Spec Approach

The most collaborative of the SFF efforts is VITA 75, which was sponsored by a group of vendors including Curtiss-Wright Controls Defense Solutions, CSPI, Elma Bustronic, GE Intelligent Platforms, General

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Based on a VITA 75 footprint, the HPERC (High Performance Extreme Rugged Computer) system embeds Intel i7 processing closely coupled to either an embedded NVIDIA or ATI GPGPU. The box also features a wealth of camera and vehicle data bus and I/O support. Dynamics Canada, Lockheed Martin, Mercury Computer Systems, TE Connectivity and Xellerix. The spec has a base standard VITA 75.0 that describes overall subsystem attributes such as the envelope of the subsystem (box) and the organization of the dot specifications. A VITA 75.11 spec describes the standardization of front panels, connectors, I/O signal pin assignments and power for VITA 75 subsystems. Standardization of mounting and cooling for free air-convection-cooled VITA 75 subsystems meanwhile is defined by VITA 75.20. And finally, the VITA 75.22 describes the standardization of mounting and cooling for conduction to a cold-platecooled VITA 75 subsystem. All these specifications are available for purchase from VITA as Draft Standard for Trial Use. A key difference with VITA 75 compared to VITA 73 and VITA 74 is a focus on the box-level aspects such as size and the level of ruggedization of the operating environment. VITA 75 also includes specifics on the types of connectors to external devices. The focus is on enabling technology refresh at the box level. The idea is to keep the physical size and connectors constant; the same platform space can be used and the wiring harness can be retained. In that way system developers can balance I/O and processing upgrades.

Focus on Box-Level Aspects

©2013 Tyco Electronics Corporation, All Rights Reserved. DEUTSCH, TE Connectivity and the TE connectivity (logo) are trademarks.

Untitled-1 1

Figure 3

While VITA 75 is behind the other two

COTS Journal | November 2013

8/14/13 4:42 PM

standards in terms of available products on the market, Adlink Technology does offer a product based on a VITA 75 footprint. ADLINK’s HPERC (High Performance Extreme Rugged Computer) system embeds Intel i7 processing closely coupled to either an embedded NVIDIA or ATI GPGPU. The box also features a wealth of camera and vehicle data bus and I/O support (Figure 3). At present it’s still too soon to tell whether any of the new small form factor standards will dominate over another or whether they’ll co-exist. An encouraging point is that prime contractors are building their own prototypes based on these standards. Each standard offers progress toward a technology area that has at this point lacked any sort of standards that users can leverage in their military platform designs. Aitech Defense Systems Chatsworth, CA. (888) 248-3248. []. Creative Electronic Systems Geneva, Switzerland. +41 (0)22 884 51 00. []. Curtiss-Wright Controls Defense Solutions Ashburn, VA. (703) 779-7800. []. Extreme Engineering Solutions Middleton, WI. (608) 833-1155. []. GE Intelligent Platforms Charlottesville, VA. (800) 368-2738. []. Mercury Systems Chelmsford, MA. (866) 627-6951. []. PCI Systems Silver Spring, MD. (301) 358-3621. [].

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SPECIAL FEATURE Small Form Factor Box Systems and Standards

PC/104 vs. COM Express for Rugged, SFF Military Systems Small form factor systems are playing an increasingly important role in military system design. A critical factor in these systems is the underlying embedded computing formats they use, such as PC/104 and COM Express. JC Ramirez, Product Manager ADL Embedded Solutions


lot has been written recently about the suitability of COM Express for rugged, military and industrial small form factor (SFF) systems and their box enclosures. Given the persistent lull in the economy that has held military and defense spending in check for the better part of four years, particularly within the last 12 months due to sequestration and other global economic realities, it is not surprising a form factor such as COM Express would seek to extend itself outside its traditional benign and limited temperature applications into more rugged (mechanical and thermal) segments of the embedded space. SFF military and industrial systems are characterized by single processor COTS and custom SFF boxes with a variety of rugged specifications that outline mechanical, electrical and environmental requirements. Common specifications include MILSTD-810 mechanical for shock and vibration profiles and environmental conditions by military vehicle/platform. Common military-grade power and EMI requirements are covered by MIL-STD-704 (Aircraft Power Characteristics), MIL-STD-1275 (Military Ground Vehicles) and MIL-STD-461 (Conducted and Radiated Electromagnetic Emissions). Size, weight and power (SWaP) are key features of these SFF systems (Figure 1). 16

COTS Journal | November 2013

They do not include multiprocessor systems, which are better handled by larger, multiboard architectures such as VME, VPX, Compact PCI, ATCA and others that are not SWaP-optimized and do not fit the rugged SFF box criteria.

A Question of Timing

One of the first considerations for any embedded designer considering PC/104, COM Express or any other SFF CPU board/ module as an option is the stage within the product lifecycle where the product currently resides (Figure 2). Early stage development is generally characterized by low volume, evolving I/O specifications and limited funding with efforts fully concentrated on bringing the first generation of a product to market to assess its viability for a specific program or market opportunity. Stackable form factors such as PC/104 excel particularly well in early stage or low volume programs due in large part to the vast ecosystem of COTS peripheral cards available, which provides flexibility of design in the face of evolving I/O specifications and a very quick time-to-market. PC/104 configurations also offer a more cost-effective entry point at this stage when the time and cost of developing a custom carrier board for a COM module is consid-

Figure 1

An example SFF box system is the reconfigurable ADLMES-8200 COTS SFF Chassis.

ered. A COM Express carrier board can be expensive depending on the complexity of the I/O requirements, which when spread over a limited early stage volume makes the overall system cost-prohibitive. If I/O specifications are evolving, the time and cost to redesign the carrier card one or more times also needs to be considered.

Height Issues to Consider

Reasons why COM Express makes sense in early stage development will usually revolve around height limitations. The PC/104 form factor has a footprint of 95 mm x 96 mm to 96 mm x 115 mm. The


OEM Product Lifecycle 1000 to 2000 boards Stack reduced


1st Generation • Evolving I/O Specs • Lowest Risk • Fastest TTM

2-3rd Generation • Cost reduction through stack reduction • Multiple I/O boards combined • Cabling simplified

2-3rd Generation • I/O is fixed • Volume is relatively high • Custom SBC or COM Express carrier cost effective

Stack Stack

Product Lifetime Figure 2

For many PC/104 implementations, the product lifecycle will evolve through future generations to incorporate new features and I/O requirements through a reconfiguration of peripheral cards.

most popular COM Express modules range from 95 mm x 95 mm for low power Compact modules to 95 mm x 125 mm for higher power Basic modules like those incorporating Intel Core i7 processors. This puts the relative footprints between PC/104 and COM Express pretty close to each other. But this is only the COM module. By the time the size of the COM carrier card is considered, the COM Express overall footprint can grow to be significantly larger. On the other hand, a COM Express solution is only two cards high: carrier card plus mezzanine COM module with a 5 mm or 8 mm connector in between. The typical PC/104 stack is generally three to four cards high for most applications: power supply and SBC plus one or two peripheral cards with a 15.24 mm (.600”) connector between each board level. If cost and time-to-market are not major driving factors as compared to height, COM Express can make sense at this stage of system development.

PC/104 Product Lifecycle

For many PC/104 implementations, the product lifecycle will evolve through future generations to incorporate new features and I/O requirements through a reconfiguration of peripheral cards (Figure 2). Size and cost savings through stack height reduction in the form of custom I/O peripheral cards is also common, and in the extreme can be reduced to just two cards: a PC/104 SBC and a custom I/O card, incorporating any I/O requirements not already covered by the SBC (Figure 3). In this sense, the overall solution is not all that different from a COM Express Module and a custom I/O carrier board. Unfortunately, for many military programs, the option to evolve over a product lifecycle is not viable. The cost of each generation of product is prohibitive due to certification activities as they relate to MILSTD-810, MIL-STDF-461, or any of numerous military standards for power for ground vehicles, avionics and other platforms. The

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Figure 3

Rugged, extended temperature PC/104 stacks interface the SBC directly to the chassis wall or baseplate and down-stack the rest of the peripheral cards away from the SBC. Shown here is the conduction-cooled 4th generation Intel Core i7 ADLQM87PC with custom I/O card. overall cost of the program development is such that the cost of custom PC/104 peripheral card(s) or COM Express I/O carrier boards is small by comparison.

Rugged, Military SFF Box Designs

The PC/104 form factor’s suitability for rugged, SFF military and industrial box designs is well established. The corner standoff bolting holes are laid out in a trapezoidal pattern, which serves to minimize standing waves and mechanical damage due to shock and vibration. Most PC/104 vendors fully embrace -40° to +85°C temperature options to support military-grade projects. This is made possible by the design of robust power supply circuitry with sufficient overhead to run reliability over the -40° to +85°C temperature range and the expert use of extended temperature rated components. The PC/104 industry is also wellversed in thermal solution design and has developed a heavy knowledgebase of ruggedization techniques for not only boards, but also for memory sockets and thermal solutions and chassis design as well. Conversely, the shortcomings of COM Express for rugged, extended temperature box design are also well documented. COM Express was never envisioned as a rugged form factor. In fact, the original intent by its developers was for use in benign, stressfree environments with forced-air cooling readily available in commercial controlledtemperature environments. Hence, the use 18

COTS Journal | November 2013

of commercial ICs is prevalent, sparse use of mounting holes is the norm, and the knowledge base for extended temperature design and thermal solution expertise is almost non-existent. These weaknesses are especially evident with high-power processor designs such as the Intel Core i7 family of processors, which are particularly difficult to power and cool over an extended range of temperatures. This results in most COM Express vendors strictly limiting their Intel Core i7 products offerings to low power processor variants (20W and below) with a limited commercial temperature range, which is wholly inadequate for most military applications. (See extended online version of this article for an expanded discussion of connector technology in PCIe/104 and COM Express systems.)

Thermal Solution Design

Aside from differences in component choices and power supply design for extended temperature, another area of concern for rugged military and industrial embedded designers is thermal management. In military design where operation at -40° to +85°C is common, the limitations for COM Express can be overwhelming, especially with high-performance processor designs that often include other hot elements within the chassis. For PC/104 designers the answer lies in conduction-cooling of processors, chipsets and other hot elements

using precision-built spreader designs with tight tolerances. Although the PC/104 standard allows for both up- and down-stacking, leading to the common misconception that a PC/104 SBC can only be cooled sideways, the reality is that most rugged, extended temperature PC/104 stacks interface the SBC directly to the chassis wall or baseplate and downstack the rest of the peripheral cards away from the SBC (Figure 3). This provides a direct path for the majority of the heat being generated internal to the chassis to be siphoned off for cooling through the baseplate or chassis exterior. For COM Express, only a very small subset of vendors have begun to embrace the extended temperature design practices common to PC/104, such as precision-built thermal solutions, copper-enhancement for high-power designs, and increased number of mounting holes to help maintain thermal contact in high shock and vibration environments. Attempts are sometimes made to increase the survivability of the COM Express connector through the addition of mounting holes to hold the connector together. Ironically, this only results in highly customized COM Express modules that limit the number of vendors and future upgradeability, which are the hallmarks of the COM Express architecture.

The Future for SFF Box Design

COM Express will inevitably continue to make inroads into military SFF box designs. However, the low durability and lightweight construction of the COM Express connector will limit its use to mostly lightly rugged shock and vibration implementations as long-term survivability of the connector continues to be an issue. Packaging companies with extensive experience in rugged thermal requirements, such as Elma Electronic and other large firms, are extending their expertise into integrated solutions for PC/104 box designs. This shows the continued strength of PC/104 for rugged, military-grade SFF chassis designs for now and the foreseeable future.

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TECH RECON GPGPU vs. Traditional Processing for Radar Systems

GPGPUs Vie with Traditional Processing for Radar Systems GPU technology offers tremendous advantages in the radar signal processing function chain. But understanding how GPUs fit in without processing solutions is the key to an efficient design. Marc Couture, Director, Product Management Mercury Systems



COTS Journal | November 2013

Peak Achievable FLOPS 3500




or several decades, radar applications in the defense industry, such as Space-Time Adaptive Processing (STAP) and Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), have benefited from digital signal processing and the linear algebraic manipulation of large radar data sets. Certain critical functions, predominantly the Fast Fourier Transform (FFT), dominated benchmarking graphs and tables. Silicon processors that demonstrated proficiency with DSP functions and produced superior FFT timings were selected as the General Purpose Processor (GPP) of choice in the construction of large multi-computing radar signal processors. In the early 1990s, the Intel i860 RISC processor, with its phenomenal floating point performance and FFT metrics, was used by the dozens in systems. These multicomputers were created because large phased Active Electronically Scanned Arrays (AESA) of STAP radar and highresolution SAR sensors produced massive amounts of data that needed to be processed in real time. Because these massive multi-dimensional data cubes were processed and passed among dozens of i860 nodes, an interconnect fabric would soon become a critical component of the overall system architecture.










Figure 1

For single and double precision floating point math, GPUs are more often measured in Teraflops as the Gflops numbers move into the multiple thousands as shown here.

Using Traditional Processors

Later in the 1990s and into the 2000s, Motorola Semiconductor, now Freescale, started producing PowerPC-based GPP devices. Of particular importance was Freescale’s MPC7410 microprocessor with

its AltiVec SIMD vector engine. AltiVec enabled entire 128-bit data vectors to be processed in a single clock cycle. Once again, the FFT and related DSP plus matrix math functions saw an order-of-magnitude jump in regards to benchmarked performance. Later in the 2000s, Intel’s


SSE4 and AVX vector engines saw up to four instances in the quad-core Core i7 mobile class devices and even more in the vector engines in the Xeon server class, which are currently growing beyond 10 cores per device. All of the processing chips discussed so far can be considered “traditional” processors in that they are general purpose in nature, tend to be C programmable and utilize standard cache-based memory systems in conjunction with DRAM-based external memory. GPPs, particularly the more modern multicore devices, are adept at multitasking, can rapidly context switch on external interrupts, and can dynamically change dataflow and processing based on rapidly changing modes. One foregone conclusion in the defense industry when considering mobile platforms in particular, assumes that all processing devices must operate in a constrained payload environment, the physical constraints being size, weight, power (SWaP) and, of particular importance these days, thermal dissipation.

Exotic DSP Solutions

During the course of radar processing, what some would call “exotic” non-GPP processing devices have provided real opportunities for accelerating key functions in the radar processing pipeline. In those cases many of the traditional GPPs could be absorbed into just a few or even one of these “exotic” devices. In fact, without these “exotic” devices, some of these radar applications and associated algorithms might not have been realized using traditional GPPs. One example was the Butterfly DSP from Sharp Microelectronics, which was used for FFTs essential for radar pulse compression. Also popular for pulse compression, FPGAs from manufacturers like Xilinx and Altera were popular in the early 2000s, and are still used today. The big advantage of FPGAs lies in their ample, programmable, high-speed I/O, which is why they are often found close to the analog-to-digital converters (ADC) behind radar phased arrays. Although quite capable of high throughput DSP processing, the “Achilles’s heel” of FPGAs has been their lack of support for floating point processing. Fixed point integer math lacks the dynamic range of its equivalent single

or double precision floating point numerical representation. FPGAs continue to be successful in holding their position in the radar processing chain, but comparatively are not as popular in a math co-processing model, i.e. an FPGA paired with a GPP device that receives input from the GPP to deliver the result.

Rise of the GPGPU

Graphics Processing Units (GPUs) were cast in the role of extreme math accelerators in the High Performance Computing (HPC) industry in the early 2000s. The term “General Purpose GPU” (GPGPU) was coined to distinguish GPUs in the role of HPC math accelerators as opposed to GPUs being used to merely render graphics to a video display. Later that decade and past 2010, GPUs were leveraged into defense applications for both electrooptical/infrared (EO/IR) and imagery intelligence (IMINT) applications and, in particular, for radar. What makes GPUs so compelling is their floating point computational throughput. For single and double precision floating point math, GPUs are more often measured in TFLOPS as the GFLOPS numbers move into the multiple thousands as shown in Figure 1. Large FFTs, filters, Basic Linear Algebra Subprogram (BLAS) matrix manipulation, and matrix decomposition functions, all necessary evils in radar signal processing applications, are all good candidates for GPGPU math acceleration. There are some key provisos that must be kept in mind if a developer expects to exact anywhere near the peak achievable perform of the GPU device. A GPU is a massive compute “beast” with a wide and fast parallel data path made up of the latest generation PCI Express lanes. The “beast” must be “fed” with data as fast and as consistently as possible. Therefore, batched data is highly recommended as opposed to a serial feed. In addition, GPUs prefer many operations per data point, so complex algorithms tend to score high. In general, GPUs are seldom compute-bound. Rather, they are more often starved for data (I/O bound) over PCI Express and/or the amount of compute per data point is underwhelming. Almost as often, application throughput finds itself throttled by memory. As is the case for nearly

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all processors available today, GPU compute units get their best bandwidths from on-chip registers and L1 caches. However, these precious commodities lack substantial capacity and the GPU must typically buffer data to/from external memory, which is currently Graphics Double Data Rate version 5-based (GDDR5) and typically measured in several gigabytes. As fast as GDDR5 bandwidths are and even though 1 to 4 Gbytes sounds like a tremendous amount of capacity, they often end up being limiting factors for GPGPU algorithms where an application may quickly become memory bound.

Breaking Down the STAP Stages

Taking a more focused look at the various stages of a STAP radar with an AESA phased array as the sensor, for instance, GPUs can play the role of majority “stakeholder.” Consider an example with GPGPU compute of the following functions: Adaptive Beam Forming, Pulse Compression, Doppler Processing and CFAR Detection. FPGAs and GPPs are included in

the mix. The exact ratio of FPGAs, GPP and GPU devices depends on the application, or the developer’s skill set or personal preference. Figure 2 shows a portfolio of standards-based building blocks highlighting what the constituent components of an embedded system may physically look like. These modules and associated mezzanines are examples of environmentally rugged modules from Mercury Systems. The forced-air convection variant of cooling is shown here to provide a better look at the electronics; however, other versions of cooling, such as conduction cooling, are implemented when air is not an option or Air Flow-By when higher heat dissipation levels are required. The Altera FPGA (or multiple FPGAs) on the XMC module(s) is tasked with beam forming. That data may be streamed directly over a problem-appropriate number of GPUs on the Mobile PCI Express Module (MXM) mezzanines, which in turn are housed on some number of MXM carriers. On a clarifying note, MXM rep-

resents an industry standard form factor that is supported by GPU market leaders like AMD and NVIDIA, is found in highend laptops, and is embedded by companies such as Mercury Systems. The advantage to the MXM architectural approach is the ability to swap in the latest model GPU during development or in the tech-refresh phase of a defense program.

GPGPUs Not for Everything

The specific GPU in the example is the AMD Radeon 7970M. A 20 nm GPGPU architecture, the 7970M is comprised of 1,280 processors that are capable of achieving 2.176 TFLOPS of peak theoretical performance. It is with this massive floating point configuration that the four central functions of the 2nd example are realized. It is important to note that GPGPUs are not the answer for everything. The Intel Xeon server-class module contains a total of 20 “Ivy Bridge” x86 cores that handle the MTI Tracking function. Adept at highly case-dependent algorithms, a cluster of CPUs was deemed



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Beam Forming

Adaptive Beam Forming

Pulse Compression






Detection CFAR

Centroid Cluster MTT Tracking






Figure 2

Shown here are the types of embedded system building blocks (Sensor boards, FPGA boards, GPGPU boards etc.) that could constituent OpenVPX components of an embedded radar system. a better choice for the conditional complexity of the radar tracker in addition to the fact that the code base originated from a rack-mounted Intel server running Linux. A final consideration concerning GPUs is a logistical point. Defense-related programs such as military radars have long lives, often measured in decades. GPUs on the other hand have a much more frequent update rate with new generations coming out annually, and their lifetime rarely exceeds five years. This requires planning to ensure supply inventory longevity or for a periodic tech re-

fresh, for instance, using newer GPUs via MXM swapping on the carrier. This may be a logistical impediment for program managers, but the technical benefits in terms of performance may be so compelling that the GPU becomes irresistible, especially if the application’s needs can only be met using a GPU. To date, GPUs hold a considerable lead when raw performance per unit of SWaP is the metric, i.e., the number of GFLOPS per 1 watt. The advent of a parallel programming language called OpenCL made GPU programming easier while improving productivity metrics. OpenCL is de-

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COTS Journal | November 2013

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signed to simplify cross-platform programming while enabling a rich range of algorithms and programming patterns to be easily accelerated. Essentially, OpenCL is hardware-agnostic and is optimized for FPGAs, DSPs and other devices from companies like AMD, Intel and ARM. In developing a radar system, using this diverse language simplifies and accelerates the integration and balance between GPUs and other types of more traditional processing. Mercury Systems Chelmsford, MA. (866) 627-6951. [].

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TECH RECON GPGPU vs. Traditional Processing for Radar Systems

GPUs Offer Dual Solution for Radar and Video Display Function Using a GPGPU as both a display and a co-processor to the CPU reduces the cost of military C2 radar systems. But careful design of the software to manage the GPU’s resources is essential. Dr. David G. Johnson, Technical Director Cambridge Pixel


he use of GPUs for general purpose processing offers a lot of advantages in military system designs. GPGPUs make use of their function as a display processor, but they can also be used to combine the two roles to support both real-time data processing and display processing. The dual role of the GPU as a coprocessor and a display engine for multilayered graphics results in some tough challenges for the software design. The evolution of the general-purpose x86 processor has moved from increasing clock speeds to more processing cores, which allow software tasks to run concurrently. Separate to this evolution, graphics cards have moved from display processors to become general-purpose processing modules that serve as coprocessors for the CPU. Development in software architectures and programming languages now offer the potential of a distribution of processing between the CPU and the GPU, possibly even leaving the system to distribute the processing load. This is interesting, but like any attempt to automatically allocate resources, getting it right, and certainly getting it optimal, is hard. A software engineer can develop code to run on the CPU and separately 28

COTS Journal | November 2013

Figure 1

The Norwegian Coastguard’s KV Svalbard icebreaker and offshore patrol vessel uses a cooperative CPU and GPU radar and video distribution and display solution to interface three radar and three cameras and deliver real-time data into two multifunction consoles, for display with maps and tracks.

code for the GPU, but effective interaction of the processes still requires care. This is especially true when the GPU is

being used concurrently for general-purpose data processing and complex display processing.


Military Display Application

It’s useful to consider this challenge in the context of a military display application presenting real-time sensor data, such as radar and camera video, along with maps and graphics. Such a system needs to process a lot of data, while presenting a responsive user-interface to an operator. A multicore processor coupled with a graphics processor, which is capable of serving as a data processor as well as a display processor, allows the solution to be implemented in industry-standard single board computers. This offers the benefits of lower system costs and easier long-term support through standard technology refresh. The demands of processing and displaying multiple sensor streams, including compressed video, radar imagery and complex maps, will stretch the hardware. And a native software implementation may not achieve the desired performance goals or provide a full range of capabilities. Using CPU and GPU architectures to support real-time, feature-rich displays that permit network streams of compressed radar and video data to be processed and displayed requires careful consideration.

must be detected by the application at runtime to give the best performance. Not using the full functionality of a GPU for video decompression, when one is available, will normally lead to very high CPU usage. Data processing using OpenCL or CUDA allows the general purpose processing features of the GPU to be utilized. However, because the data copying to a GPU still takes a measurable amount of

time, it is very important that the data processing runs asynchronously to the application code, otherwise no benefit is gained. Tasks are assigned for the GPU to run, and the application code then continues to run other parts of the application until the GPU tasks complete.

GPU Memory Limitations

One area where all of the GPU roles


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Multi-Role GPU

Beyond its display role, the modern GPU provides features for parallel data computations and dedicated capabilities for video compression and decompression. Most modern GPUs contain modules that are specifically designed for H.264 decompression, and some of these also contain modules for compression. These modules do not perform all the functions of the video processing, only major portions of them such as motion compensation and slice level decoding. In most cases it means that H.264 decompression can be viewed as largely independent from the display processor functions of the GPU. However, because decompressed video is normally displayed on the screen, the two roles overlap and application software must consider the data processing, video compression and display roles together. The level of support for video decompression using GPUs varies significantly between different graphics cards, so the best available method for decompression

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Figure 2

Radar and video servers provide capture and processing of sensor data prior to distribution to multifunction displays for presentation of video with maps and graphics.

are limited is memory usage. Although the memory bandwidth to a GPU is typically very high, the amount of memory available on the GPU is generally significantly less than the amount of system memory. Additionally, the speed when reading data from the GPU to system memory is much slower than moving data to the GPU. Video decompression often requires a significant amount of GPU memory due to the high number of frames that any single frame may depend upon. Similarly, when using the GPU as a data processor, the amount of memory required can be high when performing a large amount of processing. That high memory usage is exacerbated by the need to reduce the amount of copying from GPU memory to host memory, which means it is often advantageous to keep intermediate results on the GPU using up GPU memory. To reduce the amount of memory used, and the amount of data transferred by video compression and by general purpose data processing, care must be taken in choosing the output location for video decompression and by designing the algorithms that minimize memory usage and memory bandwidth. GPU video decompression often supports outputting the decompressed data directly into a texture that can be rendered by an accelerated rendering API (OpenGL or DirectX) without copying 30

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the data back to system memory. Similarly, if the result of the data processing is to be displayed on the screen, then the result can be moved to a texture without copying the data to system memory. Ensuring that the video data stays within the GPU memory is critical. (See online edition of this article for further discussion of radar compression issues and general architecture description of a Radar and Video Display solution.)

Radar and Video Display Solution

For a naval upgrade program for the Norwegian Coast Guard, Exelis in Chesapeake, VA, USA needed to interface to three radar signals and deliver the realtime data into two multifunction consoles, where it would be displayed with maps and tracks on board the icebreaker and offshore patrol vessel KV Svalbard (Figure 1). Three video cameras pro-

Figure 3

The Royal Navy Type 45 Destroyers utilize radar video compression but only after full verification of the system performance with compression disabled.

vided surveillance imagery that would be distributed on the same network to the consoles, where it would be presented on a multi-head display with the radar. A system block diagram is shown in Figure 2. The radar and video servers capture, process and stream the sensor data onto a common Gbit network. In the case of the camera video, the capture was integrated with an H.264 encoder allowing streams of compressed video to be presented to the client consoles. The multifunction clients are based on standard PC technology and provide a high-resolution dual-head display that shows scan converted radar, maps, target overlaps and camera video data. The client is a Linux application that provides a situUntitled-4 1


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ational awareness display to an operator, who interacts with the system during a mission. The system has to update a dual-head, high-resolution screen with real-time radar and video imagery, while maintaining a responsive user interface for normal operator interaction. The solution is based on Cambridge Pixel’s SPx software for radar and video processing. The software solution allocates tasks to the CPU and the GPU and carefully manages the flow of data to ensure that the real-time radar and video is displayed in real time. The decompression of the H.264 video is performed using core functions in the GPU to assist with the processing. After decompression the video remains in GPU memory where it is processed with a GPU data processing task that handles adjustments to the image brightness, contrast and color conversions. Graphical data is then overlaid on the video image before it is copied from GPU memory to the display window. For the radar, one core of the CPU handles the complex scan conversion calculations and the radar image is then transferred into GPU memory so that a GPU processing module can handle the mixing of the radar layer with map and overlays. The composed image is then copied to the display window. This update process occurs every 20 ms to ensure that the display updates with the sweep of the radar. The internal processes associated with these CPU and GPU activities are shown in Figure 3. A key feature of the SPx software is that the division of processing between the CPU and the GPU is hidden from the main application software. However, whereas a general-purpose programming language that attempts to distribute processing between the CPU and GPU has no understanding of the high-level data flows, and therefore can’t easily get a good balance, the SPx software works at a higher level with knowledge of radar and video to place functional blocks in the best location. It can then effectively manage the transfer of data through processing onto the screen. In summary, it’s a higher-level partitioning of the processing with knowl-

edge of the type of data being manipulated, but the results provide a highly integrated solution based around commodity processing and graphics hardware, with corresponding benefits for lifetime support.

Cambridge Pixel Royston, UK +44 (0) 1763 852749 [],


SWAP-C Ready for Rugged Commercial and Military Field Applications When size, weight, power, and cost (SWAP-C) is mission-critical, the small, light footprint and powerful performance of the Gigabit Ethernet NanoSWITCH make it ideal for rugged commercial and military field applications. The NanoSWITCH can be ordered in various configurations, ranging from a simple Layer 2 switch to a fully managed Layer 2/3 switch and router. An optional Auxiliary Gateway Processor can be added, along with CAN Bus, MIL-STD-1553, SAASM GPS, SINCGARS and HAVEQUICK Interfaces, PTP, and MEMS Inertial Measurement Unit, to build the NanoSWITCH as an All-in-One centralized network switch and controller for military and industrial applications.



• Scalable from L2 switch to L2/L3 switch router with auxillary gateway processor, SAASM GPS, CAN, 1553, PTP, and IMU • 10x 10/100/1000 GigE Port • 1x 10/100/1000 GigE WAN/Firewall/ Management Port • Single Core Intel Atom or Dual Core AMD Fusion Auxillary Gateway Processor • 64 GB SSD for Auxillary Gateway Processor • 2x CAN Bus Ports • 1x MIL-STD-1553B Port • 2x USB 2.0 Port • 1x Serial Management Port • 1x Serial COM Port • 1x VGA Port

• 1x Rockwell Collins GB-GRAM SAASM GPS • 1x VectorNAV MEMS IMU • Operating Temperature: -40C to +71C • Sealed Circular-MIL Connectors • IP67 Water Resistant • Shock: 50g @ 25mSec • Vibration: 5G RMS 10Hz to 2kHz • 10V to 36V DC • XX to YY W, Configuration Dependant • MIL-STD-810 (Environmental), • MIL-STD-1275 (Ground Vehicle Power) • MIL-STD-704 (Aircraft Power) • MIL-STD-461F (EMI)

• Intra-vehicle network switching • Distributed architecture vehicle controller • VICTORY compliant switch, router, timing, and control • WAN – LAN interconnectivity and firewall • Shared processing and peripheral communications

©2013 Themis Computer. All rights reserved. Themis Computer, Themis and the Themis logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of Themis Computer. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

November 2013 | COTS Journal


SYSTEM DEVELOPMENT Embedded Technologies Meet Space-Based Challenges

ISS Video System Upgrade Leverages Multicore SBC Technology

In order to eliminate the many drawbacks of a non-digital video recording system, the International Space Station is getting a digital upgrade. Advanced SBC and switch fabric technologies are critical to making the new system do its mission. Brian K. Widgren, MSG VUE Avionics Design Teledyne Brown Engineering and Jim Renehan,Trenton Systems


he International Space Station (ISS) is packed full of engineering systems necessary to fulfill the station’s science objectives. One such system is the upcoming Microgravity Sciences Glovebox (MSG) Video Upgrade Equipment (VUE) from Teledyne Brown Engineering that uses embedded multicore Intel processor technology incorporated into a PICMG 1.3 single board computer (SBC) architecture. The VUE records experiment science video documenting the operations for the earthbound science teams to analyze once the data has been transmitted to the ground. Ground testing of the VUE is complete and deployment on the ISS is planned for early 2014. The VUE is a significant digital upgrade to the current MSG NTSC analog video system that eliminates the need for digital tapes to record the science and the inherent problems with transporting the physical media both up to and down from the ISS (Figure 1). The VUE also does away with tape media issues related to physical storage space and the crew time needed to change out the media during science operations.

Going Digital on ISS

Tape media storage space and the crew time needed to manipulate the data tapes 34

COTS Journal | November 2013

are critically limited on ISS. The VUE system converts the MSGs’ video system to digital data, thereby doing away with the physical media. The VUE’s digital data enables transmission to the ground via telemetry networks. This provides faster data accessibility to the ground science teams for starting their analysis within days of any MSG experiment. This compares to the multi-month wait time typical with the current analog tape system. New advances in open architecture components such as processors, chipsets, memory and network interface silicon, come together in the video controller’s single board computer that uses an Intel Xeon E3-1200 series processor. This SBC meets the performance profiles of this demanding video processing application with features such as more processing cores, Intel Rapid Storage Technology for RAID array support, new Intel Advanced Vector Extensions (Intel AVX) and enhancements to the Intel Virtualization Technology (Intel VT). The controller’s backplane is capable of supporting up to nine plug-in PCI Express cards for use in monitoring and controlling the VUE system. Other key MSG VUE building blocks include a multi-slot PCI Express backplane, four Terabytes of RAID data storage boards, three Terabytes of hard drive data storage,

Figure 1

The International Space Station is getting a critical upgrade to its MSG NTSC analog video system. The new Video Upgrade Equipment (VUE) is a digital upgrade that eliminates the need for tapes and the inherent problems with transporting the physical media both up to and down from the station.

two types of video capture boards for both Gigabit Ethernet (GigE) Vision 2.0 and High Definition Serial Digital Interface (HD-SDI) video data, a serial communications board offering selectable RS-232, RS-422, or RS485 ports, and a data acquisition board to both monitor the health of the system as well as control video cameras and monitors.


number of different types of PCI Express plug-in cards is critical in this application. Scalability – The ability to quickly add custom or standard COTS plug-in cards is a distinct advantage in this application. Bandwidth – The PCI Express bandwidth and data throughput capabilities of the architecture are critical in the MSG VUE application. The video drawer of MSG VUE must

Figure 2.

process, compress and store data from up to four cameras used to conduct the experiments. The video drawer also interfaces monitors and other computer peripherals into the MSG VUE that are used by the onboard scientists to set up and conduct the experiments and enable resultant data transmissions to the ground science teams. All data gathering and transmission operations need to be fast and reliable to with-

A layout drawing of the overall MSG VUE. The control system or MSG Video Drawer is located in the lower left corner of the drawing.

Application Needs for VUE

rugged & ready when you are OPEN VPX [ configured and ready to ship


It’s helpful to understand the VUE’s unique operational requirements for the space environment and the technical rational behind using a single board computer architecture solution. A discussion on system interoperability of this architecture should prove useful given the inherent capability to support future technology refresh programs that may occur on the ISS. The function of the Microgravity Sciences Glovebox is to support a wide variety of scientific experiments in a safe and selfcontained enclosure on the International Space Station. The MSG VUE replaces the older analog test data capture methodology with an updated control system that supports digital data storage, multiple video capture boards, and advanced GigE and HD-SDI data communications. A layout drawing of the overall MSG VUE is illustrated in Figure 2. The control system or MSG Video Drawer is located in the lower left corner of the drawing. A long-life embedded SBC and PCI Express backplane system architecture was chosen for a variety of reasons: Stability and longevity – Equipment deployed on the ISS needs to remain viable for as long as possible due to the practicalities involved with deploying computer platforms in space. Flexibility – The ability to support a

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November 2013 | COTS Journal



stand the environmental conditions of the ISS. Here’s a detailed look at some of the MSG VUE components. The VUE video data recording is enhanced by the high-definition format and the capability for high-speed or stop frame rate video capture of the payload science. The VUE stores the data on RAID solid state drives and uses video data compression techniques to reduce the volume of data re-

quired to be stored prior to data downlink. The digital video data is transmitted to the ground via the ISS Medium Rate Data Link (MRDL) telemetry network, making the science data available to the payload ground teams in near real time. The ISS MRDL also provides the capability for the VUE CPU to receive compressed digital video from other payload cameras via the ISS LAN. The VUE interfaces with the existing MSG Laptop

Figure 3

The VUE uses a long-life embedded SBC and PCI Express backplane system architecture.

Computer (MLC) for crew control and setup. The VUE functional block diagram is shown in Figure 4. (See the online version of this article for more details and photos of the MSG VUE’s various component parts.)

MSG VUE Operations

The operations scenario entails crew installation of the VUE camera and monitor components, MLC – Model T61p, and the MSG payload hardware prior to beginning experimentations. The VUE cameras may be installed inside the MSG Work Volume (WV) or outside in the ISS cabin volume. The VUE video drawer is powered up via ground or crew MLC commands and supplied by the MSG rack ESEM 4A, RPCM 7 and ESEM 4A, RPCM 8 via a power cable. The crew then configures the VUE system settings per the experiment video science requirements using a graphical user interface (GUI) application on the MLC. Setup configuration files will be developed to preconfigure the VUE MVD computer to the video processing requirements for each MSG payload. The crew uses the GUI application to apply power for each of the installed components and then views the HD monitors to adjust the field of view for each camera used in the experiment run. The ground science teams will view the setup and camera fields of view via the near real-time downlink of the video to approve the configuration prior to the start of the experiment run. The crew is now ready to perform the experiment and the video data are captured and stored for processing and downlink.

Planned for 2014 Deployment

Extensive MSG VUE ground tests related to key mission parameters like Untitled-18 1


COTS Journal | November 2013

5/2/12 2:03:25 PM


radiation exposure and data operations are complete, and the MSG VUE will be turned over to NASA for a planned deployment on the ISS in mid-2014. The MSG VUE solves a number of ISS operational issues related to the storage and transmission of science data from experiments conducted in the microgravity environment of space. The VUE uses advanced multicore Intel processor technology housed on a long-life, embedded single board computer capable of supporting a wide variety of PCI Express standard plug-in cards connected to the system’s PICMG 1.3 backplane building block. The computer, camera, sensor and monitor technologies deployed in the VUE will provide years of operational support for the advanced science experiments conducted on the International Space Station. Trenton Systems Gainesville, GA. (770) 287-3100. [].


Rear Connector

ISS Video Network


SPLC (RS-422)

Front Panel Connectors

ISS 1553 Bus ISS LAN1 (Ethernet) MSG J46 ESEM 4A 1UP RPCM8

2 - Aux USB


Key 28 VDC Power 12 VDC Power Communications 1 Communications 2 Digital Video

(28VDC, 10A)


(Kbd., Mouse)

Aux 1000 Base-T

HDHDSDI/ SDI/ VGA Monitor Monitor #2 #1

HD/GigE Camera

WV Feed Through

HDHDHDHDSDI/ SDI/ SDI/ SDI/ GigE GigE GigE GigE Camera Camera Camera Camera

Figure 4

This functional diagram shows a detailed look at some of the MSG VUE components and how they’re connected.



The latest small form-factor (VITA 74) solution from CES features a TI DaVinci™ video processor providing multiple HD/SD streams of H.264, VC1, MPEG-4 Video, JPEG/MJPEG compression / decompression and multiple I/Os in a small rugged conduction-cooled format. ru

Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, CES - Creative Electronic Systems SA has been designing and manufacturing complex high-performance avionic, defense and communication boards, subsystems and complete systems for thirty years (such as ground and flight test computers, ground station subsystems, radar subsystems, mission computers, DAL A certified computers, video platforms, as well as test and support equipment). CES is involved in the most advanced aerospace and defense programs throughout Europe and the US, and delivers innovative solutions worldwide.

For more information: November 2013 | COTS Journal


TECHNOLOGY FOCUS High Reliability Power Supplies

Power Supplies and Converters Meet a Variety of Mission-Critical Needs The reliability of a military embedded system is ultimately tied to the choice of power supply and power conversion technology. Vendors of such products continue to evolve with power technology innovations. Jeff Child, Editor-in-Chief


ith more and more computing stuffed into smaller spaces, power has direct implications on the size, cooling and mobility of a board- or box-level system. That’s why military system designers can no longer afford to make their choice of power supplies and power conversion electronics an afterthought. Add to that the challenges of multi-voltage electronics and the complexity of distributed system architectures, and it’s clear that military system designers need solutions that address those needs. Often the unsung hero of a military system design, power supplies and converters are critical enablers for meeting today’s rugged requirements. They continue to roll out more efficient products, new partitioning strategies and increased ruggedization. These new solutions continue to emerge not just at the component or brick level, but also at the module and board level. Meanwhile, uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) are now more critical than ever as computer and network gear pervade the battlefield. In tandem to those trends, there’s a growing demand to reduce size, weight and power (SWaP) of system electronics. And the two go hand in hand. More and more programs are pushing for as much computer processing muscle as can possibly fit into a board-level solution. Driving those demands is a desire to fit more functionality in the same space or into a smaller footprint. In the air, this means smaller and longer endur38

COTS Journal | November 2013

Figure 1

An Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate USS Rentz (FFG 47) is anchored in the Cartagena harbor to prepare for the start of the annual UNITAS multinational naval exercise hosted this year by the Colombian Navy.

ance for systems like UAVs. On the ground, this means more weight can be allocated to the all important armor of ground vehicles. In the realm of high-power-density DC/DC converters, the modular form factor, commonly referred to as a brick, continues to be the preferred building block component for any application, commercial and military. That said, bricks are especially well suited for military applications. Often times a power supply solution must work with systems designed over a very long program deployment cycle. An example is Behlman’s 94053 power supplies

used with the computer display systems on surface ships. Since the initial procurements for the U.S. Navy began in 1982, the UYQ-21(V) U.S. Naval Tactical Display System (NTDS) console has been the standard for many of the U.S. Navy’s surface vessels. U.S. ship classes that have been equipped with the UYQ-21(V) include the CG-47 Ticonderoga class AEGIS cruisers; DDG51 Arleigh Burke class AEGIS destroyers; FFG-7 Oliver Hazard Perry class frigates (Figure 1); LHD-1 Wasp class amphibious assault ships; and CVN-68 Nimitz aircraft carriers. The Navy asked Behlman for a form-fit-function replacement for an aging original OEM low/medium voltage power supply for their UYQ-21(V). In response, Behlman delivered its 94053, a 400W, eight-output unit that supplies 5 VDC to 200 VDC, to power a number of electronics in the UYQ-21(V) console, including 28 VDC input to the associated Behlman 94020 high voltage power supply. The Behlman 94053 is a highly reliable, switch mode unit designed and built for mission-critical military and high-end industrial applications. It supports the rigors of shipboard applications and is designed to meet the input power requirements of MIL-STD-1399.

Configurable DC-DC Power Supplies Mil-Standard Compliant Highest Efficiency Field Proven ►Configurable to custom requirements ►28Vin — full power down to 18V ►Efficiency as high as 95% ►1 to 4 output voltages ►Power up to 450W ►Internal EMI filter ►Reverse polarity protection ►Spike/Surge protection ►Control features

Made in the United States of America.


TECHNOLOGY FOCUS: High Rel Power Supplies Roundup Rugged-UPS Meets Demands of Harsh Environments

Designed for worldwide deployment in harsh physical and electrical environments, Acumentrics’ Rugged-UPS ACG3000 offers clean AC or DC power to protect communications and surveillance equipment from shutdowns or data loss. The ACG3000 produces 3000 VA / 2400W of nominal 115 VAC output from an input range of 80 VAC to 265 VAC / 47 Hz to 440 Hz. This wide voltage and frequency tolerance enables users to power-up with field generators in any

international power standard to provide seamless active power-factor correction and clean, reliable AC power. This true on-line, double conversion uninterruptible power supply continually creates a pure sine wave AC output from a DC bus, protecting sensitive equipment from surges, spikes, brownouts, blackouts and noise. Additionally, DC output options are available. The unique Flo-thru heatsink design provides maximum cooling while sealing components from the damaging effects of water, airborne particles and other contaminants in the operating environment. Lithium-Ion or low-maintenance, valve-regulated lead acid batteries are enclosed in a user replaceable battery pack for rapid, hotswap field replacement. With a rated operating temperature range of -18° to +50°C (0° - 122°F), the ACG3000 is the product of choice for high power in extreme environments. It also meets accepted military standards for electromagnetic interference (MIL-STD 461-F), shock (MIL-S901-D) and vibration (MIL-STD-810-G).

Acumentrics Westwood, MA. (781) 461-8251. [].

FIND the products featured in this section and more at


COTS Journal | November 2013

75 Watt Compact DC/DC Converter Sports Digital Interface

Calex has announced two new models that have been added to the Calex 75 watt WDE Series. Both housed in an industry standard 1/8 brick package (2.45” x 1.05” x 0.55”H), the 24S5.15WDE features a wide 9 to 36 VDC input range with a 5 volt output at 15 amps. The 24S12.6WDE features the same 9 to 36 VDC input range and provides a 12 volt output at 6 amps. Both models are fully regulated and isolated input to output. The 24S5.15WDE and

24S12.6WDE expand the Calex WDE offering, which previously consisted of 24, 28 and 48 volt output models with either a 9 to 36 VDC or 18 to 75 VDC input range. In addition to the basic 1/8 brick analog functions, all WDE models feature a PMBus interface to allow monitoring, datalogging and remote customization of the DC/DC converters. An evaluation board is available from Calex for bench testing, communication and configuration. These features make the unit an ideal solution for critical applications where monitoring and/or datalogging can assist in system evaluation, monitoring and troubleshooting. All WDE models are housed in a fully encapsulated cast case making them ideal for still air environments. The operating temperature range of the WDE is -55° to +100°C.

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

UPSs Feature Extended Runtime Battery Bank Option

Falcon Electric has added a ruggedized wide temperature (-30° to 63°C) extended runtime battery bank option to its popular SSG and SSG-RP UPS products. The widetemperature-rated batteries provide long back-up runtimes for protecting connected computers and instrumentation operating in harsh environments during a prolonged power outage. The new battery pack gives users over 10 times the battery runtime, compared to Falcon’s

standard 2U extended battery pack option. The new battery bank carries a UL listing when powering Falcon’s unique UL-listed SSG2.5KRP-1. UL is pending for the remaining models in the SSG and SSG-RP Series widetemperature-rated UPS product line. The SSGB-1S40-5U 40AH battery bank is a rugged battery option that consists of eight deep cycle, valve regulated lead-acid, maintenance-free 40 amp hour (AH) batteries and two internal one amp chargers. The batteries and chargers are housed in a sleek rackmount enclosure that takes only 5U (8.75 inches) of vertical rack space. The battery banks may be interconnected or “daisy chained” to provide exceptionally long battery runtimes and can be easily added in the field after the SSG units are installed and in service. The SSGB-1S40-5U 40AH is priced at $2,995.

Falcon Electric Irwindale, CA. (626) 962-7770. [].


250W Convection-Cooled Power Supply Boasts Low Profile, High Efficiency

TDK has announced the release of TDKLambda’s new CUS250LD series low-profile AC/DC power supplies. These single-output supplies provide 250 watts of output power with convection-cooling (no fans required). This design eliminates the need for fan maintenance and reduces acoustic noise and vibrations. In addition, they feature a low profile of only 1.18 inch and a compact footprint of 4.0 x 7.8 inches.

The supplies operate from a universal input of 85-264 VAC, 47-63 Hz, with PFC, enabling them to be used anywhere in the world. Moreover, they can operate from a 120-370 VDC input. These units have an input-to-output withstand voltage of 3 kVAC. The CUS250LD series are available with an output voltage of 3.3V, 4.2V, 5V, 12V, or 24 VDC, all of which have a +/-10% user-adjustment range. The convection-cooled operating temperature range is from -25° to +70°C with derating above +40°C. The powersaving efficiency is up to 90%. Other standard features include overvoltage and overcurrent protections plus a green LED indicator that is lit when the supply is on.

TDK-Lambda Americas San Diego, CA. (619) 628-2859. [].

DC/DC Converter Module Series Provides 334 W/in3 Solutions

Vicor has expanded its ultra-high-density Picor Cool-Power PI31xx series of isolated, ZVS-based DC/DC converters optimized for 24V industrial, 28V aerospace/defense and/or demanding wide temperature applications. The new Cool-Power PI31xx converters retain the product series’ signature 0.87 x 0.65 x 0.265-inch surface-mount package profile to provide up to 334 W/in3 power density and 2,250V input to output isolation. At less than 50 percent the size

of a conventional isolated 1/16th brick, CoolPower PI31xx converters provide exceptional performance in an IC package for use in highdensity system designs. Fully equipped with a variety of programmable features, the PI31xx includes output voltage trimming, programmable softstart capability and remote on/off ENABLE. There is also a temperature monitor function, providing an analog output voltage proportional to the internal module temperature. The PI31xx is self-protected against fault conditions including: input over-voltage, undervoltage lockout, over-temperature and output over-voltage protection. A constant current limit threshold is employed to protect against short circuit and overload conditions. All fault conditions have an auto-restart function. Picor Cool-Power PI31xx isolated DC/DC converters are available today. Pricing for OEM quantities is $37.40 for I-grade (-40° to 125°C) and $89.76 for M-grade (-55° to 125°C) devices. Picor QuietPower QPI-12 (-40° to 125°C) and MQPI18 (-55° to 125°C) active EMI filters are also available today. Pricing for OEM quantities is $7.84 for QPI-12 and $32.78 for MQPI-18.

Vicor Andover, MA. (978) 749-8359. [].

5W Dual Output DC/DC Converter Provides Rugged Reliability

VPT has announced the availability of a new dual output DC/DC power converter to power electronics in unmanned vehicles, ships, armored ground vehicles and other rugged systems. The VPT5-2800D DC/DC power converter delivers up to 5W from a small footprint of approximately one square inch, meets several military standards, and features a six-sided metal package. The dual output converter satisfies rigorous design standards that include

MIL-STD-704 input voltage requirements, full operation over an extended temperature range, and all-sided metal packaging to provide excellent EMI shielding. This product is on the shelf and ready to provide smooth power through harsh environments. The VPT5-2800D is a step down DC/DC power converter with dual outputs of ±5V, ±12V and ±15V. It supports full operation over -55° to +100°C military temperature range. Features include low input/output noise, input undervoltage lockout, output soft start, short circuit protection and current limit protection. It is packaged in a six-sided rugged metal enclosure that is internally conformal coated. Its size is 1.110 x 1.11” x 0.4 inches with a weight of just 22g. Compliances and certifications include MIL-STD-1275, MIL-STD-704A and MIL-STD461C-F when used with a VPTF1 Series EMI filter. Also supported are DO-160, ISO-9001, DEF STAN 61-5 and DEF STAN 59-411 when used with a VPTc10-28 EMI filter. Modules are in stock now with pricing beginning at U.S. $100.00 in OEM quantities.

VPT Blacksburg VA. (425) 353-3010. [].

FIND the products featured in this section and more at

November 2013 | COTS Journal



Rugged 3U cPCI DC/DC Power Converter Delivers 300 Watts

50W DC/DC Converters Provide from 5 to 200 VDC Output

270V DC/DC Full-Brick Converters Deliver 800W

North Atlantic Industries has announced the availability of its latest 3U, rugged cPCI power product. The 55RQ2 is suited for harsh land, air and sea applications. The 55RQ2 provides up to 300 watts of power with four outputs and is compliant with MIL-STD-704F. Other features include reverse polarity protection, current share, advanced programmability with BIT features, as well as a built-in EMI Filter compatible with MIL-STD-461-compliant systems.

The HiQP series of DC/DC converters offer new higher wide input voltage range 125 VDC to 475 VDC to Pico’s present line-up of wide 5 VDC, 12 VDC, 24 VDC and 48 VDC inputs with regulated output voltages from 5 VDC to an outstanding high voltage output to 500 VDC at power ratings up to 50W. All these electrical characteristics are combined in a miniature, 2.5 x 1.55 x 0.5-inch encapsulated module and offer many additional standard features. These include:

SynQor has increased the maximum rated power level of its 270Vin MCOTS line of fullbrick DC/DC converters by raising the lower end of the input voltage range over which they can operate. The new MCOTS-270H line of full-brick converters can deliver 800W of output power while operating over a continuous input voltage range of 240V to 425V and a transient input voltage range of 240V to 475V. The 240V lower limit complies with the requirements for all of

The 55RQ2 is PICMG 2.11 compliant and fits in a 3U cPCI, 0.8” pitch slot and is IPMB compatible. In addition the 55RQ2 is user configurable for power sequencing and ramp rates. The 55RQ2 gives system developers the capability of meeting stringent power, reporting and BIT requirements in a compact, rugged COTS package. Many of today’s military systems rely heavily on power supplies that can withstand rugged, conduction-cooled environments and MIL-STD-704F low/high voltage transients. The 55RQ2 is the latest in a complete line of cPCI power converters that support some of today’s most demanding system power requirements. Basic pricing configuration starts at $2,771 each for a quantity of 100.

safety related over temperature protection, over and under voltage protection and short circuit protection. There is also a 5 percent trim capability, a remote shutdown option, a 3V reference pin and a special bias control pin for use in a capacitor charging design. As with most of Pico’s products, this unit can be upgraded for military or other critical applications with selection of our expanded operating temperature option of -55° to +95 °C case operating temperature. It will also meet MIL-STD 202 Vibration, Shock, Humidity and Altitude by design and is available with selected MIL-STD 883 Environmental Screening as an option.

the Steady-State conditions specified in MILSTD-704(A-F), and the higher limits comply with all of the Steady-State and the over-voltage Surge requirements. These MCOTS-270H converters are particularly useful for high power systems that do not need to operate through a Starting Voltage Transient, or that simply have power sources that are more tightly regulated than specified in MIL-STD-704(A-F). The MCOTS-270H full-brick DC/DC converters are designed to provide isolated DC power for electronics such as power amplifiers, jammers and systems requiring high powered bus voltages. These converters use SynQor’s synchronous rectifier-based technology to achieve extremely high efficiencies, up to 92% at 800W. The optional built-in current sharing feature allows for easy paralleling of modules for applications requiring more power or module redundancy with limited external components. Switching frequency is constant to provide predictable EMI performance, and the converters can be paired with SynQor MCOTS EMI filters to meet most requirements of MIL-STD-461. The MCOTS-270H converters are offered encased for exceptional performance in harsh environments and can provide full output power at case temperatures between -55° and 100°C.

North Atlantic Industries Bohemia, NY. (631) 567-1100. [].

Pico Electronics Pelham, NY. (914) 738-1400. [].

SynQor Boxborough, MA. FIND the products featured in this section and more at


COTS Journal | November 2013

(978) 849-0600. [].

MIL-STD is the only thing standard

about our power supplies. Any questions?

Proudly made in the USA.

Designed to meet the most demanding power supply needs... yours. • • • •

Discrete component design facilitates rapid utilization of latest technologies Intelligent monitoring, control and communication Fully integrated EMI Filtering Key standards include: - MIL-STD-810 - MIL-STD-1399 - MIL-STD-461 - MIL-STD-1275 - MIL-STD-704 - MIL-STD-901 • Designed with Component Derating per NAVMAT guidelines • Supported platforms include VME, cPCI and VPX

Intelligent COTS Solutions... for today’s rugged systems. Visit or call us at 631-567-1100 today.

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6U OpenVPX System Targets EW and Radar Development

BittWare has made available its Electronic Warfare (EW) and Radar Development System. The single-slot 2U OpenVPX system features BittWare’s S5-6U-VPX (S56X) FPGA COTS board based on the high-density Altera Stratix V GX and GS FPGAs and two VITA-57 FPGA Mezzanine Cards (FMCs) with direct data connections to the onboard FPGAs: an ADC FMC (A/D Converter) providing up to four 8-bit A/D channels at 1.25 to 5 GSPS, and a DAC FMC (D/A Converter) providing two 14-bit D/A channels at 5.6 GSPS. Along with the dual Stratix V FPGAs, the 6U VPX board also contains an ARM Cortex-A8 for control plane interface and processing, The EW & Radar Development System provides a complete, fully tested and configured Stratix V development environment with high-speed data conversion. The development platform includes BittWare’s S5-6U-VPX (S56X), which features two Altera Stratix V GX or GS FPGAs. The S56X board supports BittWare’s ATLANTiS FrameWork (AFW) for control of I/O, routing and processing. The board’s two VITA-57 FMC interfaces support additional I/O and processing cards. The S56X also features an ARM Cortex-A8 control processor for control plane interface and processing, extensive onboard memory and I/O interfaces including GigE, SerDes, LVDS, JTAG and RS-232. The development system includes a 19” rackmount enclosure with a VITA 46/65-compliant single-slot VPX backplane, featuring high-speed multi-gig connectors J0-J6. The 2U high chassis accommodates one 6U x 160 mm board and includes a 250W Power-One power supply. It provides integrated cooling with two 12 VDC fans and side-to-side airflow, and includes an advanced EMI shielding package.

BittWare, Concord, NH. (603) 226-0404. [].

System Extends Workstation Display without Performance Tradeoff

25.5-Inch Large Format Display Offers 1980 x 1200 Resolution

Matrox Graphics, Dorval, Quebec, Canada. (514) 822-6000. [].

IEE, Van Nuys, CA. (818) 787-0311. [].

Matrox Graphics has announced compatibility of the Matrox Avio F125 fiber-optic KVM extension solution with the EIZO DuraVision FDH3601 monitor, which features 8.8 megapixels (4096 x 2160 native resolution) across a 36.4-inch screen. The DuraVision FDH3601 comes with two DVI-D and two DisplayPort inputs and an advanced set of specifications including 1.07 billion display colors from a palette of 278 trillion, a 1,000:1 contrast ratio, 700 cd/m² brightness and an 8 ms response time. Matrox Avio is designed to extend a workstation’s displays and peripheral devices while maintaining system performance with zero compression and zero latency at the remote user station.

IEE offers a rugged, 25.5-inch WUXGA display with 1980 x 1200 resolution offering 10% more height than a standard full HD monitor. This display has been designed within IEE’s enhance lifecycle management program to ensure its availability for a minimum of seven years, a key benefit for IEE’s industrial and military/aerospace system integrators. The front-facing, sealed OSD switches withstand harsh environmental elements, while providing full control of display parameters, including brightness, contrast, size and position. In one application, full HD content can run concurrently and unobstructed with 12 lines of “banner text” along the bottom of the screen.

PCIe Gen3 Compute Accelerator Boasts 73.3 Teraflops

One Stop Systems has introduced the first PCIe Gen3 expansion appliance to support up to sixteen high-end accelerator boards. The High Density Compute Accelerator adds 73.3 Teraflops of computational power using sixteen NVIDIA Tesla K10 GPUs. The Accelerator is targeted for data centers operating HPC applications, providing the user with a complete appliance that solves any integration issues. Military users simply connect the cable or cables to the host server(s) and has hundreds or thousands of additional compute cores readily available. Each canister is equipped with four PCIe x16 Gen3 slots that operate up to 128 Gbits/s each. While the enclosure supports any type of PCIe card, for convenience the canisters are provided pre-loaded with four Intel Xeon Phi coprocessors or NVIDIA Tesla K10 or K20 GPUs. An intake fan is located on the front of each canister, directing ambient air through the canister. An internal system monitor provides system operation data, including fan operation, voltages and temperature at several points in the enclosure. A remote interface is provided through the Ethernet port on the rear of the enclosure. An optional IPMI module is available for operators who wish to collect system data through the IPMI bus.

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


COTS Journal | November 2013

Fully Flight Qualified

Our Application Ready systems keep development time and costs grounded. X-ES systems are fully flight qualified to MIL-STD-810, MIL-STD-461, MIL-STD-704, and DO-160 specifications. We design, develop, manufacture, test, and support the systems and perform qualification under one roof in the U.S.

You’re cleared for take-off with fully qualified systems. That’s Extreme. Visit to see our flight qualified systems.

Extreme Engineering Solutions 608.833.1155

LCR-F-11187 Military Ad_LCR-F-11187 Military Ad 6/20/12 3:54 PM Page 1


PCI Express Card Does Radar Signal Output

Cambridge Pixel has unveiled its HPx-300 radar output card. The new PCI Express card will allow developers of radar tracking or radar display applications to perform an end-to-end test of their systems in the laboratory ahead of deployment with a radar. The HPx300 generates radar signals, including video, trigger, azimuth and ship heading, to support radar system test, simulation and video streaming. The card offers considerable flexibility for generating a wide range of analog and digital signal types and voltages, permitting many types of radar signals to be simulated. The card can also be programmed to simulate a wide range of rotation speeds, radar pulse rates and scanning types, including conventional rotating, sector and random scan.

Cambridge Pixel, Cambridge, UK. +44 (0) 1223 882174. [].

Single-Slot 3U VPX Board Offers 2 Tbyte of Storage

Join the growing number of programs that use LCR Electronics’ ATCA Chassis in the field for mission-critical computing. To learn more about LCR and our products, contact us today.

9 South Forest Avenue Norristown, PA 19401 (800) 527-4362 sales email: 46

COTS Journal | November 2013

Elma Electronic Inc. now offers a dual drive, VPX storage module that provides more than 2 Terabytes of storage, yet requires only one system slot. The new 533x family comes with either solid state SLC, MLC or 2.5-inch rotating drives to match both the environmental attributes and functionality requirements of specific applications. The 5330/1 boards feature a 4-port PCIe to SATA II 3 Gbits/s controller supporting two onboard and two external SATA 3G drives or four external drives. Software RAID provides better data protection and access speed, and the extreme temperature and shock resistance ensure the 533x series will continue to perform under critical environmental stresses. Pricing for the units typically starts at $1,600 depending on the version and drive choice.

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

COTS PRODUCTS FIND the products featured in this section and more at

High-Speed Data Recording Engine Rides 3U OpenVPX

Curtiss-Wright Controls Defense Solutions has introduced the VR-1257, the defense and aerospace industry’s first high-speed, rugged 3U OpenVPX Data Recorder. The new small form factor data recording engine captures high-volume, continuously streaming data without interruption, making it ideal for speeding and easing the integration of highthroughput reliable data recording into deployed 3U VPX COTS systems. The VR-1257 enables system integrators to quickly and cost-effectively add the highperformance data recording needed to satisfy the most demanding requirements in today’s data-intensive applications. Ideal for use in both lab development and rugged deployed environments, this rugged SWaP-optimized data acquisition solution targets demanding ISR applications, such as radar, sonar, FLIR and Infrared (IR) sensor data capture in aircraft, ground vehicle and base stations. The VR-1257 is a high-performance recording engine designed for use in harsh-environment air- and conduction-cooled applications. The rugged board features an Intel Core i7 processor and supports system expansion via an XMC/PMC mezzanine site. The mezzanine module interface provides eight lanes of Gen2 PCIe to support a wide range of high-speed data fabrics such as sFPDP, Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) and 10 GbE. For applications with unique I/O requirements, our Customer Programmable Software API is available to ease and speed the development of high-speed recording systems. When combined with Curtiss-Wright’s VPX3-FSM 3U VPX Flash Storage Module, the VR-1257 provides a complete secure data recording solution for SWaP-constrained deployed applications. The VPX3-FSM secures critical data stored on its high-performance/high-capacity solid-state SATA drives with FIPS 140-2 validated AES-256 bit encryption. The VPX3-FSM, a 1-inch pitch conduction-cooled solid state storage device, utilizes high reliability SLC NAND flash designed for the most demanding applications. The FSM can be configured as either four separate SATA drives (4 x 256 Gbytes) or as a single SATA drive (1x 1 Terabytes).

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

OpenVPX InfiniBand-Based Processing Module Targets Advanced Radar

Mercury Systems has announced the Ensemble HDS6602 High Density Server, the embedded computing industry’s most powerful 6U OpenVPX processing module. Powered by two 10-core Intel Xeon processors E5-2648L v2 (codenamed Ivy Bridge-EP) running at 1.9 GHz and supporting up to 128 Gbytes of memory, this 6U addition to Mercury’s Ensemble series of sensor chain building blocks packs the most processing power into a standard, 1-inch pitch OpenVPX module. Native Intel Quick Path Interconnect (QPI) v1.1 inter-processor interconnects enable virtual cache coherent processor cores delivering true deterministic processing. Onboard Gen 3 PCIe pipes feed the data plane with either 40 Gbit/s Ethernet (TCP/IP and Sockets) or DDR/QDR/FDR10 InfiniBand.

Mercury Systems, Chelmsford, MA. (978) 967-1401. [].

- Rapid Response RFP / RFQ Support - High Spurious Free Dynamic Range - COTS Solutions (1U/2U) - Exceptional Signal Sensitivity

Replacements for M/A Com, ComSol, Watkins-Johnson

20 MHz - 3 GHz Receiver

20 MHz - 3 GHz Converter/Tuner 201.767.8030 x286

500 MHz -18/26.5 GHz Receiver/Converter

November 2013 | COTS Journal


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Company Page# Website

Company Page# Website

Access I/O Products, Inc................36................................

Mercury Systems, Inc.................... 19................................


North Atlantic Industries.................43..................................

Aries Electronics, Inc.....................

One Stop Systems, Inc...................23...............

Ballard Technology,

Pentek, Inc.................................... 51.............................

Chassis Plans,


Creative Electronic

Pico Electronics,

Data Device Corporation................30..........................

RTD Embedded Technologies, Inc..2,26-27............................

Extreme Engineering Solutions, Inc..45............................

Rugged Box Systems Gallery..........49.......................................................

FEI-Elcom Tech, Inc.......................


Galleon Embedded Computing........31.........................

SynQor, Inc....................................39.............................

GE Intelligent Platforms, Inc.............5...............

TE Connectivity.............................. 14....................................

Getac, Inc...................................... 15...............................


Great River Technology, Inc............

Themis Computer..........................33.............................

Intelligent Systems

Trenton Systems,

LCR Electronics,


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

Coming Next Month Special Feature: Slot-Card Board Architectures in UAV Recon Platforms As complete systems become more doable using box-level technologies, they’re beginning to replace some platforms that once relied on slot-card systems like VME and cPCI. But for larger UAV payloads, slot-card technologies are still the best choice for customizing a set of boards for a specific UAV payload functionality. This section looks at the trade-offs of systems versus slot-card solutions and how system consolidation is impacting the radar, imaging processing and communications capabilities of next-gen UAVs. Tech Recon: Optical Technologies for Interconnects and Backplanes Optical backplane technologies have been discussed in theory in the embedded industry for decades. But demand for high-bandwidth interconnects and the likely widespread adoption of optical backplanes in the commercial market, are both factors moving the idea toward reality. A lot depends on where the optical solutions will be able to meet the extended operating temperature ranges and shock/ vibration requirements of military systems. System Development: Situational Awareness Technologies: From Command to Soldier Level In recent years demand for Situational Awareness capabilities has driven a huge ramp-up in data collection capacity. Driving that is the trend toward every vehicle, every aircraft, every ship, every UAV and every soldier on the ground being able to quickly share video information with almost any level of the DoD’s operation. This section explores the display, GPU, board and box system technologies that are all a part of this push toward building out a net-centric military. Tech Focus: XMC and FMC Boards XMCs are becoming entrenched as the natural successor to PMC as the leading mezzanine form factor in military applications. Meanwhile, the VITA FPGA Mezzanine Card (FMC) specification defines an I/O mezzanine module designed to work intimately with an FPGA. FMC modules enable I/O devices that reside on an industry standard (VITA 57) mezzanine card to be attached to and directly controlled by FPGAs that reside on a host board. This Tech Focus section updates readers on these trends and provides a product album of representative XMC and FMC products. 48

COTS Journal | November 2013

NEW! ADLMES-8200 Modular Enclosure System

Rugged Box Systems Gallery

• Modular Design Supports Variable Stack Heights (2 - 6 Cards) • Three Basic Size Profiles Available To Reduce Time To Market • Quick Turn Front I/O Plate Can Be Easily Customized For Feature and Function • IP60 and IP65 Configurations • Thermally Conductive Base, Ribbed Sidewalls and Finned Top For Superior Conductive and Convection Cooling

Featuring the latest in Rugged Box System technologies

ADL Embedded Solutions Inc. Phone: (858) 490-0597

HPERC-IBR: High Performance Extreme Rugged™ Computer

ARINC 818 Flyable Video Converter Module (VCM) This flight-hardened unit converts between DVI, RS-170, or HD-SDI and ARINC 818, easily adapting legacy equipment for use in modern ARINC 818 architecture. • RTCA DO-160F hardware qualification • HIRF-protected, EMI-shielded design • Robust 38999 Series circular connector • Enclosure less than 5 x 4 x 2.5 inches (including connector) • 20 to 34 VDC power input

• 3rd generation Intel® Core™ i7 processor • VITA 75, SWaP-efficient, sealed SFF system • Soldered DDR3L-1333 8GB; 16GB RAM • Ultra-fast 12GB/s solid state RAID • GPGPU on 16-lane PCI Express • DisplayPort/HDMI/DVI • Coldplate-mount or finnedconvection cooling system • Simple user expansion, configuration

Adlink Technology Inc. Phone: (408) 360-0200


Great River Technology Phone: (505) 881-6262

MOBL-D2 Universal Mobile Computer

Phone: +1 (303) 430-1500


Ships with 5-slot VPX backplane—ready out of the box for 3U VPX applications • Lightweight Aluminum Frame • (2x) 28 VDC 400W power supplies, convection over conduction-cooled • (2x) core i7 processor blades (2.5 GHz) 8 byte DDR3 • Optional 240GB storage blade

LCR Electronics, Inc. Phone: (800) 527-4362

SIU3-3 –Sensor Interface Unit – Conduction Cooled

North Atlantic Industries, Inc. Phone: (631) 567-1100

• Configure with up to 9 I/O and communication function modules • 40+ different modules available • SBC-less stand-alone operation supported via Gig-E • 3 x 3U cPCI Slots • PowerPC®, Intel Core i7® or ARM SBC Processor • Windows®, Linux and VxWorks® OS Support • 4.71”W x 4.78”H x 7.95”D • MIL-STD-810G & MIL-STD-461F Web:

Web: http://www.greatrivertech. com/arinc-818-vcm.html

LCR Electronics 3U VPX ATR

• Open system architecture • Software agnostic • Robust RF support • MIL-810F shock and vibration • Wide temperature range -30°C - +70°C • Low power CPU • Designed, manufactured and certified in the US

Octagon Systems



Talon RTR 2749: One- or TwoChannel RF/IF 3.2 GS/sec Rugged Rackmount Recorder

• Designed to operate under conditions of shock and vibration • Windows 7 Professional workstation with Intel Core i7 processor • Stores data to 20 TB of solid-state drives in NTFS file format • Real-time sustained recording rates up to 3.2 GB/sec • Pentek SystemFlow analysis tool includes a virtual oscilloscope and spectrum analyzer

Pentek, Inc. Phone: (201) 818-5900

Web: cots2749

November 2013 | COTS Journal



EDITORIAL Jeff Child, Editor-in-Chief

An Army with Hurdles Aplenty


irst there’s the normal and expected contraction of the Army’s size just due to the winding down of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Then there’s the reality of the nation’s defense strategy making a pivot toward Asia-Pacific, a move that requires more allocation of spending in the Navy and Air Force than the Army. On top of all that is the hit from sequestration that forces drastic and unplanned cuts across the board. It’s also a hard position for the Army to be in to have all those factors hit while the Army wants to reset its equipment coming home from the warfront and modernize at the same time. So with all that as backdrop, the Army is quite appropriately speaking out on its behalf in order to ensure it can fulfill its duties. While this is probably a huge generalization for me to make, I’ve observed that—more than the other military branches—Army top leadership tends to be more succinct, blunt and realistic when discussing its requirements and how they affect its capabilities. One of the forums where Army leaders spoke out was at last month’s Association of the United States Army’s (AUSA) Annual Meeting and Exposition in Washington DC. In an auditorium at AUSA full of uniformed soldiers and engineers from defense contractors, Lt. Gen. James Barclay, the Army Deputy Chief of Staff for financial management, reportedly talked about how the years ahead seem certain to be dominated by “fiscal limits” and the lack of predictability they face. Indeed with Congress unable to agree on a spending plan for 2014, the Army is under a continuing resolution that temporarily extends 2013 spending levels. And come the start of 2014, another round of the automatic sequestration cuts is scheduled to slice $52 billion more from military spending unless Congress stops it. One of the reforms the Army will need to make, Barclay said, is to revamp how the Army develops major new weapons. “We can no longer afford to spend 8 to 12 years to field new equipment,” he said. He continued saying that the Army may have to rely on technically safer and cheaper “incremental improvements” to existing weapons, buy more commercial off-theshelf gear, and perhaps even resort to leasing. On the same AUSA panel, others spoke of applying technology to help mitigate some of the challenges imposed by cutbacks. Brig. Gen. Wayne Grigsby, director of Army training, said to expect more virtual training, including virtual training with allied forces. To cut costs but still maintain readiness, soldiers are likely to do more training at home training stations, and less traveling to training centers. Meanwhile, Lt. Gen. Keith Walker, the Army’s deputy command general, futures and director of the Army Capabilities Integration Center, said soldiers can also expect to rely more on robots in 50

COTS Journal | November 2013

the future. Today the Army already relies on wheeled and tracked robots to search buildings and inspect suspected roadside bombs. But according to Walker, plans are in place to build more sophisticated robots he called “robotic wingmen”: unmanned aerial systems designed to fly ahead of troops and vehicles and use sensors to scout for hidden enemies. Speaking again, Barclay said that any such new equipment will have to conform to the Army’s new principle: “cost-effectiveness.” “That wasn’t so important during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars when we had a big checkbook,” said Barclay, “But those days are over.” More grave talk about Army budget constraints came at the opening ceremony of the AUSA show. Army Secretary John McHugh described in stark detail the consequences that deep funding cuts from sequestration had on the Army in this year alone, and warned of more to come. Speaking about the frustration created by the 16-day shutdown of the federal government and its effect on the Army’s civilian workers who were furloughed or required to work without pay he said “We’re blessed...that they stuck with us. We owe them a debt of gratitude.” Later in a news conference, McHugh reportedly discussed a number of issues. Joining McHugh at the news conference was Gen. Raymond Odierno, the Army chief of staff. Among the issues discussed was the need to prioritize the Army’s needs over the last several months. He said sequestration has cost the Army $1.7 billion in just the first year, resulting in hundreds of vehicles and thousands of communications systems out of service for lack of maintenance and soldiers unable to train. “We were forced to rob Peter to pay Paul, then Paul got furloughed,” McHugh said. “This is no way to run the greatest Army in the world, and certainly no way to run the greatest nation in the world.” When asked about the effects of sequestration on Army specific programs, McHugh and Odierno listed the priorities as a next generation ground combat vehicle, a replacement for the Humvee, which would be the JLTV, an improved command and control network and a replacement for the H-60 helicopters. With cost and development times now under extreme pressure—particularly for the Army—it’s more important than ever that technology decision makers outsource complex subsystems to the vendors in our industry. As primes continue to look to our industry for highly compute dense and low size, weight and power computing systems, the cost and capability advantages will trickle up the food chain. The Army can use all the help it can get, especially in this era when it faces challenges aplenty.

Got Tough Software Radio Design Challenges?

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A/D sampling rates from 10 MHz to 3.6 GHz D/A sampling rates up to 1.25 GHz Multi-bandwidth DUCs & DDCs Gen3 PCIe with peak speeds to 8 GB/sec 4 GB SDRAM for capture & delay Intelligent chaining DMA engines Multichannel, multiboard synchronization Ž ReadyFlow Board Support Libraries Ž GateFlow FPGA Design Kit & Installed IP Ž GateXpress FPGA - PCIe configuration manager OpenVPX, AMC, XMC, PCIe, cPCI, rugged, conduction cooled ‡ Pre-configured development system for PCIe ‡ Complete documentation & lifetime support

With more than twice the resources of previous Virtex generations plus advanced power reduction techniques, the Virtex-7 family delivers the industry’s most advanced FPGA technology. Call 201-818-5900 or go to for your FREE online Putting FPGAs to Work in Software Radio Handbook and Onyx product catalog.


Aircraft Interface Devices (AID) Solve avionics system integration and compatibility problems with Ballard Technology’s versatile Aircraft Interface Devices. These rugged units are an essential part of many avionics upgrades, such as tactical mission systems and electronic ight bags (EFB), where they serve avionics data while protecting aircraft control domains from interference and corruption.

Speed program development and reduce costs with our validated COTS (Commercial-Off-The-Shelf) AIDs Visit our website or call 425-339-0281 to learn more.

AS9100 / ISO 9001 Registered

COTS Journal  

November 2013

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