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Data Sheet: PC/104 & PC/104-Family Boards Roundup


The Journal of Military Electronics & Computing

Smart Interface Solutions Marry 1553 & Ethernet

VNX Spec a Success for Cockpit Multi-Function Display System MicroTCA Offers a Low SWaP Choice for Defense Designs

An RTC Group Publication

June 2015 Volume 17 Number 6

Innovative Solutions

RTD’s Embedded Systems and Enclosures

At RTD, we have developed a full suite of compatible boards and systems that serve automation, transport, industrial, defense, aerospace, maritime, ground, and research-based applications. We provide high-quality, cutting-edge, concept-to-deployment, rugged, embedded solutions. Whether you need a stack of modules, or a fully enclosed system, RTD has a solution for you. Call us to leverage our innovative product line to design your own embedded system that is reliable, flexible, expandable, and field-serviceable. Let us show you what we do best. Start here:

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The Journal of Military Electronics & Computing


COTS (kots), n. 1. Commercial off-the-shelf. Terminology popularized in 1994 within U.S. DoD by SECDEF Wm. Perry’s “Perry Memo” that changed military industry purchasing and design guidelines, making Mil-Specs acceptable only by waiver. COTS is generally defined for technology, goods and services as: a) using commercial business practices and specifications, b) not developed under government funding, c) offered for sale to the general market, d) still must meet the program ORD. 2. Commercial business practices include the accepted practice of customer-paid minor modification to standard COTS products to meet the customer’s unique requirements. —Ant. When applied to the procurement of electronics for he 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.

June 2015 Volume 17 Number 6

FEATURED p.10 Intelligent Interface Solutions Link Ethernet to 1553 and More SPECIAL FEATURE 1553, Ethernet and More for Military I/O 10 14

Intelligent Interface Solutions Link Ethernet to 1553 and More


History Repeats

Jeff Child

Multi-Protocol Avionics Systems Require Modular Solutions Greg Tiedemann, Data Device Corp. RJ McLaren, Kontron


The Inside Track


COTS Products


Marching to the Numbers

TECH RECON Video Processing Boards and Systems 18

SWaP and Cost Savings Abound Using VNX Approach Andrew Hull, PhD, Elbit Systems of America Wayne McGee, Creative Electronic Systems

SYSTEM DEVELOPMENT Military Applications for MIcroTCA 22 MicroTCA Offers Attractive Choice for Many Mil Applications Justin Moll, Vadatech

Coming in July See Page 48 On The Cover: For more than 30 years, 1553 has been a staple in flight and mission critical systems aboard military aircraft. It’s even used on advanced platforms such as the F-22 and F-35. Shown here, two F-22 Raptors fly over the Pacific Ocean during a theater security mission as part of a deployment to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam.

DATA SHEET PC/104 and PC/104 Family Boards Roundup 28

PC/104 Board Advances Lower Costs and Boost Functionality


PC/104 and PC/104 Family Boards Roundup

Jeff Child

Digital subscriptions available:

COTS Journal | June 2015




The Journal of Military Electronics & Computing

Editorial EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Jeff Child, EXECUTIVE EDITOR Johnny Keggler, SENIOR EDITOR Clarence Peckham, MANAGING EDITOR James Pirie,

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HOME OFFICE The RTC Group 905 Calle Amanecer, Suite 150 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 2015, The RTC Group. Printed in the United States. All rights reserved. All related graphics are trademarks of The RTC Group. All other brand and product names are the property of their holders.


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EDITORIAL Jeff Child, Editor-in-Chief

History Repeats


s a person with technology-focused mindset in charge of this military technology magazine, you can imagine the kinds of things that went through my head last fall when I learned Dr. Ashton Carter would be the next Secretary of Defense. With a background as a theoretical physicist and former Harvard professor, Carter’s history is impressive. To be fair, the last several SecDefs have quite sincerely expressed an emphasis on technology, but a man with Carter’s science and technology background would certainly bring an important perspective to the job. Since taking office Carter has demonstrated exactly that. A vivid example was his speech at Stanford University a couple months ago where he not only spoke on a wide range of technology subjects, but also announced specific steps the DoD will be taking under his leadership to improve the link between government and industry. He spoke of the great opportunities to be seized through a new level of partnership between the Pentagon and Silicon Valley. While Carter hit numerous topics in the speech, what he said about GPS was the most representative in terms of past, present and future DoD-private sector collaboration. “GPS began as a defense-driven project”, said Carter. And today ”…GPS signals provide navigation for ride-sharing apps, but also for aircraft carriers and our smart bombs.” He went on to talk about how they’re beyond GPS. “While DoD will continue to support the GPS satellites, which it will engineer and launch, we also need to find alternatives for military use that are more resilient and less vulnerable.” That will be done in part by advancing MEMS technology for small inertial navigation units, small accurate accelerometers, and precision clocks all on a chip. Such technology is in our smartphones—that’s how they know they’re being rotated. According to the SecDef another push will be on boosting the performance envelope in timing and navigation technology by harnessing Nobel Prize-winning physics research that uses lasers to cool atoms. “Stanford has been a tremendous force in this area, with one group of researchers creating a company we work with, AOSense, to make practical cold-atom systems,” said Carter, “The result would be a GPS of things—akin to the Internet of things—where objects, including our military systems, keep track of their position, orientation, and time from the moment they are created with no need for updates from satellites.”


COTS Journal | June 2015

In the same speech, Carter went on to express the significance of Silicon Valley as a center of talent and innovation. “The reason that Silicon Valley is so successful is that it has the right people in it but there’s proximity as well—there’s an ecosystem out here,” he said “And that geographic proximity, coupled with strong links between academia and industry, has made this entire region a nexus for innovation.” With that in mind, the Pentagon has made a concrete effort to build more direct relationships with technology firms by creating its first, full-time outreach office in Silicon Valley, called the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental, also known as DIUX. Staffed by active-duty and military personnel, plus key people from the Reserves who live in the Valley, its mission will be to strengthen existing relationships and build new ones. The office will help scout for new technologies; and help function as a local interface for the department. Down the road, they could help startups find new work to do with DoD, said Carter. The Secretary also discussed how the DoD is opening a door in the other direction. The DoD currently has a Secretary of Defense Corporate Fellows Program that sends about 15 DoD people per year out to commercial companies like Oracle, Cisco, FedEx, and others. Carter announced they will expand that fellows program into a twoyear gig—one year in a company, and one year in a part of DoD with comparable business practices. The goal is that will provide a better chance to bring the private-sector’s best practices back into the department. For me, Carter’s Stanford speech is just one example of how the Secretary is proving be that real deal I imagined he’d be as an advocate for technology. It also doesn’t hurt that Ashton Carter considers former Secretary of Defense William Perry to be among his mentors. Perry was the father of the COTS movement, and as some of you may know he was instrumental in the launching of COTS Journal back in 1998. Interestingly William Perry was also present at Carter’s Stanford speech. Carter remarked how he and Perry followed similar career paths from Under Secretary of Defense in charge of technology and procurement—to Deputy Secretary of Defense and finally Secretary of Defense. Sometimes history repeats itself in the best of ways.





BEHLMAN ELECTRONICS Orbit Power Group broke through the 6U VPX power ceiling with the Behlman 1000-watt DC-to-DC, VPXtra™ Power Supply. Today, Belhman also offers a 700-watt, multiple-output, DC-to-DC VPXtra™ 6U Power Supply, and a 1500-watt AC-to-DC VPXtra™ 6U Power Supply. Belhman also provides a 550-watt DC-DC VPXtra™ 3U Power Supply, and a wide range of VME power supplies used in airborne, ground mobile, naval and industrial applications, as well as a broad line of modified standard, custom and COTS power supplies (frequency converters, inverters, AC, DC-DC, AC-DC, DC-AC, and UPS). See them at





INTEGRATED COMBAT SYSTEMS (ICS) Orbit Electronics Group’s Integrated Combat Systems (ICS) has announced the availability of two new 6U VME System Health Monitors, two 6U VPX System Health Monitors, and a Rear Transition Module (RTM) for each. These six products join the over 135 standard and customized VME and VPX products shown on Orbit’s web portal at They are among the most advanced such components available today. All 6U System Health Monitors feature a unique, proprietary feature-rich GUI; Ethernet, USB and/or RS 232 interfaces; set-up; data logging; field upgradable firmware; and data password protection. ICS is also a leader in designing and building advanced military and industrial electromechanical assemblies.

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INSIDE TRACK Crystal Group Gets Retrofit Contract for P8-A Poseidon VADSS Gear Crystal Group announced that Boeing has awarded the company with a contract extension to provide Video And Data Storage System (VADSS) units aboard the U.S. Navy’s P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft (Figure 1). Boeing supplies the P-8A surveillance plane to the U.S. Navy. Under this contract extension, Crystal Group will provide Boeing with VADSS hardware to retrofit twenty-four low rate initial production aircraft that Boeing has already delivered to the U.S. Navy with installations beginning in 4Q 2015. The entire contract, including prior award to supply VADSS for Lots 4 and 5 of the P-8A production, is expected

to complete in 4Q 2016. VADSS is comprised of Crystal Group’s rugged, lightweight computer servers and storage devices that capture and process video data gathered from surveillance sensors onboard the aircraft. The company also designs and manufactures installation-ready rugged servers, displays, networking devices, embedded systems, and storage devices that fit critical applications in demanding environmental conditions.

BAE Submits Bid for Marine Corps Amphibious Combat Vehicle 1.1 Program

amphibious operations, including demonstrations of launch and recovery of the vehicle from amphibious ship test platforms. According to BAE Systems, its ACV 1.1 proposal offers a mature, cost-effective solution with growth capacity to meet future Marine Corps needs. The Marine Corps plans to award up to two initial contracts later this year to deliver 16 engineering, manufacturing, and development prototypes beginning nine months after the contract award.

BAE Systems has submitted its bid for the U.S. Marine Corps’ Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV) 1.1 competition. The company’s solution, built from the ground up to be a truly amphibious vehicle, would provide a significant benefit to the Marine Corps’ current and future needs. BAE Systems is teamed with IVECO Defence, a company that brings additional experience having designed and built more than 30,000 multi-purpose, protected, and armored military vehicles in service today. The team’s U.S.-built, nondevelopmental solution has completed thousands of miles of mobility testing and a full range of FIND the products featured in this section and more at


COTS Journal | June 2015

Crystal Group Hiawatha, IA (319) 378-1636

Figure 1 Crystal Group will provide Boeing with VADSS hardware to retrofit twenty-four low rate initial production aircraft that Boeing has already delivered to the U.S. Navy.

BAE Systems McLean, VA (703) 847-5820

Figure 2

POC. to Supply Digital Data Set (DDS) Systems for Navy T-45 Aircraft

a follow-on Increment II production contract in the amount of $7.1 million from the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), Patuxent River, MD, for associated development, production and delivery of 31 Digital Data Set (DDS) Systems

Physical Optics Corporation (POC) announced it has received

Teamed with IVECO Defence, BAE Systems has crafted an Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV) 1.1 solution built from the ground up to be a truly amphibious vehicle, serving the Marine Corps’ current and future needs. for the Navy’s T-45 trainer aircraft. Work begins in the Torrance, CA, facility immediately, and is to be completed by 5/31/17. With options for an additional 84 systems, the total contract value would exceed $18 million.


INSIDE TRACK TECHNOLOGY SPOTLIGHT Wideband EW Tuner is First OpenRFM-based Offering

Figure 3 Core Systems provided the Avaya Shipboard Team with rugged servers and displays for many different US Navy hull ships. This includes in six different USS CVN’s and two LCSs, including the USS Freedom LCS-1 (shown). The DDS physically replaces three legacy systems on the T45C aircraft into a single highly advanced system. In addition to a number of enhancements such as ED-112 Crash Survivable Memory Unit (CSMU), DDS combines the Airborne Data Recorder, Signal Data Computer, Advanced Signal Data Computer, Airborne Video Cassette Recorder, and the Mission Data Loader into a single digital footprint while improving safety, reliability and performance with added functionality. Physical Optics Corp. Torrance, CA (310) 320-3088

Core Systems and Avaya Team to Support the US Navy Fleet Core Systems has provided the Avaya Shipboard Team with rugged COTS servers, Core custom servers, and displays for many different US Navy hull ships. Systems have been installed and deployed in six

different USS CVN’s and 2 different LCS’s, including the USS Freedom LCS-1 ported at the Naval Base San Diego (Figure 3). Core Systems also has installed systems in the Navy School House in San Diego for systems training to the Navy, and in multiple government systems verification and training labs. Avaya also won a 5-year IVCS re-compete for CG and DDG class Destroyers, which include the Core Systems’ servers and displays. Anticipated build of these 28 to 32 ships will take place over the next 5 years with procurements starting in calendar year 2015. Core Systems provides diverse lines of rugged products are deployed in ground vehicles, aircraft, and maritime installations worldwide. Avaya is a provider of business collaboration and communications solutions, providing unified communications, contact centers, date solutions and related services to companies of all sizes around the world. Core Systems Poway, CA (858) 391-1006

Last fall Mercury Systems launched the OpenRFM standards initiative with a goal toward streamlining the integration of RF and digital subsystems in advanced sensor processing applications with the goal of creating more affordFigure 4 able, flexible and open standards-based The Ensemble RFM-1RS18 tuner solutions. The idea behind OpenRFM integrates three rugged OpenRFM is that within the RF and Microwave modules into a single-width, 6U domain, much of the technology supporting EW, EA, and SIGINT applications VXS package. the same level of standardized, modular, open systems architecture that’s been a success for embedded computing— VME and OpenVPX for example. OpenRFM was developed to solve the challenges of digital and RF/ microwave convergence, spectrum-fusion and maneuverability, complementary system interoperability, and affordability. OpenRFM uses a modular, open-architecture approach, standardizing the electromechanical, software, control plane and thermal interfaces used by integrated microwave assemblies to streamline the design, integration, and testing of RF and digital capabilities within sensor processing systems. OpenRFM design principles are compatible with prevailing embedded computing industry standards, including 3U and 6U form factor OpenVPX and VXS/VME for EW and Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) applications. With the standard still in progress, Mercury Systems recently announced the Ensemble RFM-1RS18 tuner. This fast-tuning wideband device is the first tuner in the embedded industry to be developed using OpenRFM system building blocks. It affordably delivers comprehensive electromagnetic spectrum coverage for electronic warfare (EW) applications. The Ensemble RFM-1RS18 tuner integrates three rugged OpenRFM modules into a single-width, 6U VXS package (Figure 4). Each package is comprised of a wideband front-end tuner spanning a range of 0.5 to 18.0 GHz, a quadconverter that delivers four IF outputs and a synthesizer to ensure coherent outputs from the converter. Each tuner combines a high-channel density, derived from OpenRFM’s three modules per slot approach with wide, nearinstantaneous bandwidth capability, ultra-fast tuning speed, and low-phase noise performance all within a low-SWaP package. Mercury Systems Chelmsford, MA (978) 967-1401

COTS Journal | June 2015


SPECIAL FEATURE 1553, Ethernet and More for Military I/O


COTS Journal | June 2015


Intelligent Interface Solutions Link Ethernet to 1553 and More Tried and true reliable avionics interfaces such as 1553 are entrenched in system designs. Advances in processor-based bridging solutions help connect legacy I/O to modern computing interconnects like Ethernet and USB. Jeff Child, Editor-in-Chief


ith over 30 years of employment in flight and mission-critical systems aboard military aircraft, the MIL-STD-1553 bus remains a fixture on both older planes as well as new platforms such as the F-22 and F-35 (Figure 1). The challenge for military system developers is to accommodate the need to support the requirements of legacy interface schemes while accommodating the performance needs of next-generation computing and electronic subsystems. Even today legacy I/O schemes such as MILSTD-1553 and ARINC 429 still are considered good for pure control applications. But they are completely out in the bandwidth range of modern interconnects. To more easily get the best of both worlds, a number of bridging and conversion solutions have emerged that link legacy technologies such as 1553 to the much faster Gbit and 10 Gbit Ethernet interconnects. The technology evolution has spun in two ways. On one hand a number of rugged boxlevel solutions have emerged that include 1553 alongside several other interface technologies. And at the same time the idea of a 1553-only board has become a little outdated now that it’s easy to combine 1553 with other board or box-level functions. Both of those trends have now matured even future to the idea of intelligent (processor based) multi-protocol solutions that ease the burden of linking different protocol schemes.

COTS Journal | June 2015



tem combines industry leading performance from Intel’s embedded computing architecture and the I/O flexibility of DDC’s High Density Multi-Protocol XMC module, to deliver unmatched avionics connectivity in a small form factor, deployable, rugged enclosure. For its embedded intelligence the system is scalable from an Intel Atom Bay Trail processor to an Intel Core i3, i5, or i7 dual or quad core processors. (For more discussion on the problem this product solves seen the article “Multi-Protocol Avionics Systems Require Modular Solutions” next in this section).

Compact Ethernet I/O Platform Figure 1 For over 30 years, the 1553 interface has been used in flight and mission-critical systems aboard military aircraft. That even includes the latest generation of fighter the F-35.

Intelligent I/O Interfacing Exemplifying exactly that trend, North Atlantic Industries’ Custom-On-Standard Architecture (COSA) designed to enable intelligent integration of processors and FPGAs that perform complex and time-critical tasks such as motion control, process control, monitoring, data transfer, and Background Built-in-Test (BIT). Challenges like connecting 1553 and Ethernet fit snuggly into that concept. With a goal of not adding more power requirements, the trend is to add intelligence to such systems using low power CPUs. Along those lines, last fall expanded the functionality of its Nano Interface Unit ( NIU1 ) to include embedded computing capability.

Figure 2 The NIU1A with added SoC dual ARM Cortex -A9 processor, delivers smaller size, lower power, higher bandwidth, shared memory and lower latency in a small package.


COTS Journal | June 2015

The advanced NIU1A with added SoC dual ARM Cortex -A9 processor, delivers smaller size, lower power, higher bandwidth, shared memory and lower latency in a small package (Figure 2). The compact subsystem connects to existing platform Ethernet networks, making data available to any system on the network. It lets designers add sensor data acquisition, distribution and communication interfaces to mission computers without expensive chassis and backplane redesign, for use in military and aerospace embedded applications. The NIU1A offers a choice of more than 40 intelligent I/O, motion simulation/measurement and communications functions such as: A/D, D/A, TTL, RTD; discrete I/O; differential transceiver, synchro/resolver /LVDT/RVDT measurement, simulation and excitation; strain gauge; encoder; dual channel dual redundant BC/RT/MT MIL-STD-1553; high-speed sync/ async RS-232/422/423/485; ARINC 429/575 and CANBus. For its part, Data Device Corp. recently introduced its new Rugged Avionics Interface Computer. Ideal for both system upgrades and new systems, the unit provides a flexible and scalable platform that supports a wide range of Ethernet, MIL-STD-1553, ARINC 429, ARINC 717, CANbus 2.0/ARINC 825, RS232/422/485 and Avionics/Digital Discrete I/O data network communications. The sys-

Also with an Ethernet I/O platform is United Electronic Industries. Last month UEI unveiled its new UEINet Series Ethernet I/O module (Cube), a compact data acquisition, control and I/O platform housed in a 2.7- x 4.0- x 4.1-inch chassis. The UEINet is based on UEI’s PowerDNA Cube architecture and is designed for applications requiring a very small foot print with the capabilities to support virtually any input, any sensor, and any interface I/O. The rugged chassis is rated for operation from -40 to +70 degrees C, able to withstand 5g vibration and 100g shock and designed to support a wide range of high- and low-voltage analog and digital signals. The UEINet platform is supported by UEI’s family of over 60 compatible analog, digital and interface I/O boards, including ARINC-429, MIL-1553, CAN, RVDT/LVDT, synchro/resolver, RS-232/422/485, strain gauge, quadrature encoder, and more. With a specific focus on Power over Etherent (PoE), BBG offers its rugged PoE powered 1553 to Ethernet interface. The device provides real time Ethernet connectivity for transformer or direct coupled dual redundant 1553 (A/B) buses. With this device multiple terminals can access 1553 data over any IP based network. Users can selectively monitor 1553 data, control devices (BC) and report information (RT) through the various modes. The BBG‐1553‐POE is also equipped with a trigger port which can be programed to monitor and respond to external events. The unit is powered via PoE, USB or fixed DC supplies and provides automatic switching between supplies for increased reliability. Whether it is in the field or in the lab, the BBG‐1553‐POE is the ideal, low cost solution for a 1553 to Ethernet interface.


XMC a Staple for 1553 Especially with so much legacy 1553 in slot-card military systems—based on VME for example—demand continues for mezzanine level 1553 solutions. An example is the models AXE1553-x and AXE429-x XMC cards recently introduced from AIM GmbH. These conduction Cooled XMC cards are designed specifically for rugged, embedded MIL-STD-1553/MIL-STD-1760 and ARINC429 applications. The AXE cards use the field proven AIM Common Hardware Core derived from the existing AXC1553-x /AXC429-x test and simulation cards delivering low power consumption required for rugged environments and embedded applications. AXE1553-x modules handle up to 4 dual redundant MIL-STD-1553 channels with eight Open/Ground Avionics Level (+35V) Discrete I/O signals plus Trigger-I/O. A ‘Bus Controller Disable’ function supports ‘Remote Terminal Only’ Applications. Transmit Inhibit for Monitoring Only Applications is an assembly option. Single function variants of the cards are also available. AXE429-x modules handle up to 32 fully programmable (Tx/Rx) ARINC429 channels with a maximum of eight Open/Ground Avionics Level (+35V) Discrete Inputs and eight Open/Ground Avionics Level (+35V) Discrete Output signals in addition to TriggerI/O. Transmit Inhibit for “monitoring only” applications is an assembly option. Another key direction for multi-proto-

computing architectures. System and board solutions as described in this article let military system developers accomplished that easier and at lower costs. AIM-USA Trevose, PA (267) 982-2600

Figure 4 The USB MULTI family of pocket-sized USB adapters provide an easy and portable way to interface computers to multiple avionics databuses including: MIL-STD-1553, EBR 1553, ARINC 429, ARINC 708, ARINC 717, Serial, and Discrete I/O.

col interfacing is small size for protocol testing. Ballard Technology, an Astronics company, has taken that approach with their pocket-sized USB adapters. They provide an easy and portable way to interface computers to multiple avionics databuses including: MIL-STD-1553, EBR 1553, ARINC 429, ARINC 708, ARINC 717, Serial, and Discrete I/O. The USB MULTI family of pocket-sized USB adapters enable computers to communicate with, simulate, test, and monitor avionics equipment and systems. These rugged USB 2.0 peripherals feature a combination of different protocols in a single device. This provides greater convenience and cost savings when interfacing to multiple databus types. They are compatible with virtually all modern PC laptop, desktop, and tablet computers, and all power necessary for operation is provided via the single USB port. Plug and Play and Hot Swap features make them easy to install and move between computers.

Ballard Technology Everett, WA (425) 339-0281 BGG Chesapeake, VA (757) 366-9211 Data Bus Products Manhasset, NY (516) 365-3946 Data Device Corp. Bohemia, NY (631) 567-5600 North Atlantic Industries Bohemia, NY (631) 567-1100 United Electronic Industries Walpole, MA (508) 921-4600

Linking Legacy to the New Figure 3 The UEINet Series Ethernet I/O module is designed for applications requiring a very small foot print with the capabilities to support virtually any input, any sensor, and any interface I/O including 1553 and ARINC 429.

Legacy protocols like 1553 and others in way are typical of the particular system design challenges unique to the defense industry. Tried and true technologies don’t always get replaced by the latest a greatest new faster alternative. The game is to provide ways to link them with high performance interconnects like Ethernet so they can co-exist with today’s embedded COTS Journal | June 2015


SPECIAL FEATURE 1553, Ethernet and More for Military I/O

Multi-Protocol Avionics Systems Require Modular Solutions Today’s mix of military avionics I/O requirements make system designs a challenge. By leveraging compute-based modular architectures tricky interface problems are smoothed way. Greg Tiedemann, Product Line Director, Data Device Corp. RJ McLaren, Product Marketing Manager, Kontron


odern military avionics I/O demands are exploding. From legacy MIL-STD 1553, ARINC 429/717 and 825 to Gbit Ethernet and Fibre Channel, a diverse set of interfaces are used in the plethora of individual systems installed in the aircraft. Because of this diversity, many avionic platforms today find it necessary to integrate Ethernet alongside ARINC 429 and MIL-STD-1553 to meet the varied and growing data demands onboard the aircraft and to support increased bandwidth performance needs of new video processing and sensor-based systems. It is easy to see the necessity for multiprotocol connectivity with the ability to easily bridge from one protocol to the other. However, it is subsystem performance and flexibility that make these capabilities possible, which is not adequately supported by traditional microcontroller-based subsystems due to their static features and specific command set. Plus, achieving broad interface support is made more difficult by the constant need to satisfy rugged reliability and reduced size, weight and power (SWaP) requirements as more functionality is poured into military aircraft.

Optimizing the I/O Links Avionics developers must find the most optimal way to link the I/O needs of legacybased interface systems and make them compatible with higher-performing aircraft subsystems. A practical approach to address14

COTS Journal | June 2015

ing dynamic interface mix changes is with computer-based avionics solutions that employ the latest highly-integrated processor architectures offering the advantages of lower power consumption. These new rugged avionics computers process data more efficiently and at the same time deliver an inherently modular, flexible, more powerful, and scalable approach compared with alternative microcontroller solutions. While microcontroller-based subsystems that offer fixed, specific command sets are great for certain applications, these types of solutions do not give users the programmability needed to enable multiple I/O functionality.

Computing Architectures Fill the Need The 1553 data bus is a standard choice for avionics flight control commands based on its inherent reliability, determinism and a 1 Mbit/s data rate that is more than adequate to support the data communication requirements for flight, sensors, and weapons control (see the sidebar “Why 1553?� in the web version of this article). For avionic applications requiring higher data rates, including video/image transfer, high-speed networks such as gigabit Ethernet and Fibre Channel are often deployed. However, there is a wide range of application requirements from platform to platform, making scalability and programmability of solutions also a critical requirement. Consequently,

Figure 1 Strict tolerance to shock and vibration has been pre-validated for the COBALT system based on the broad spectrum of UAV and other avionics environments. The unit is also tested to perform reliably in temperatures ranging from -40 to +71 degrees C.

platform solutions must provide the ability to easily mix and match different I/Os to reduce risk, lower development costs, and help expedite the development process. They also must support the large variety of protocols used and be able to expand as needed into ever smaller form factors, particularly important for longterm system deployment or tech refresh. What makes all this possible is the ability to provide trusted multi-I/O capabilities in a high-performance avionics solution. The good news is that there are advanced computing

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Figure 2 The rugged Avionics Interface Computer (AIC) offers three modes of bridging capability. Remote Access Mode uses Ethernet to communicate to the AIC on the airframe and control the 1553 and 429 interfaces, eliminating the need to run long 1553 or 429 cabling. architecture platforms that accomplish both demands while providing new capabilities and maintaining legacy interface reliability.

Open Standards Using COMs Open standards embedded computing platforms based on Computer-on-Modules (COMs) provide an ideal modular framework for enhanced design flexibility. A highly scalable, adaptable and programmable application foundation that allows avionics developers to address dynamic interface mix changes is the application-ready Kontron COBALT (Figure 1). This rugged IP67 fully sealed and compact system delivers the computing performance demanded in today’s military avionics systems. The heart of the COBALT platform is its COM processor board with the complete system including a rugged baseboard, power module, housing and appropriate I/O connectors. Today’s application-ready platforms simplify this process, enabling defense contractors to use faster Ethernet that then bridges back to 1553 connections. These same platforms also enable the seamless integration of Ethernet technologies and the addition of new devices, which avoids the need to develop new and more costly systems. Furthermore, the capability to support all avionic I/O requirements provided with small footprint computing platforms enables developers to replace several cards or boards with a single form factor thereby delivering significant size, weight, power and cost (SWaP-C) savings. 16

COTS Journal | June 2015

Scalable integrated building blocks are essential to simplifying the avionics system design process. Designers can further integrate mezzanine options with Computer-on-Module (COMs)-based systems such as Kontron’s COBALT, a self-contained, small form factor rugged computing platform that packages COM Express-based COMs in its rugged housing. COBALT gives designers a configurable application-ready platform capable of meeting a broad range of I/O and network communications requirements. Importantly, the addition of mezzanines enables new systems without significant modification to an original base design, thereby protecting and maximizing technology investments. Embedded computing platforms based on COMs enable developers to leverage COM Express Type 6 pin-outs, which permit future design options by reallocating legacy PCI pins for digital display interfaces and additional PCI Express lanes. Extra PCI Express lanes can be routed to serial-based mezzanine card slots such as mPCIe and XMC. Expansion slots are created as a result, providing a performance jump compared to earlier pin-out options. This approach also produces an enhanced fourth generation graphics architecture that is essential to support avionics high definition surveillance and imaging applications. Because the resulting system is modular and upgradable, performance can evolve by swapping out modules to access processor advancements. Developers meet design requirements while avoiding additional customization costs and development resources from the ability to use and reuse platforms in smaller systems. It is important to note the extensive PCIe support in Type 6 highlights the ongoing move away from legacy parallel interfaces and towards pure serial embedded system designs. This trend matches perfectly with the higher bandwidth and reduced latency required by many military avionics applications.

Data and Image Processing Using persistent surveillance or high resolution imaging applications as examples, application-ready systems demonstrate performance values ideal for unmanned or other avionics applications. With more powerful graphics display and processing features, military professionals can simultaneously access and process multiple displays of informa-

tion in the field. Incoming general data can be reviewed immediately on-site or stored for later review, while urgent information can be quickly distributed for immediate action. In this type of high-bandwidth design scenario, ruggedized, thermal performance is validated at the board level. The system includes reliable performance in temperatures ranging from -40° to +85°C. All I/O routed from the baseboard relies on a proven rugged connector, while all external I/O employs a 38999 type MIL circular connector. Developers avoid design requalification or additional PoC requirements because the system’s baseboard stack provides all necessary interconnects between the COM Express board and XMC and mPCIe interfaces. An added advantage for designers is that these systems typically provide native support for all the newest display interfaces, which ultimately simplifies carrier board designs. This adds significant value by reducing time-to-market as well as total cost of ownership for graphics-intensive military applications.

Flexibility in Avionics Subsystems With high-density embedded computing advancements, flexible avionics subsystems can be achieved that specifically meet the high channel count, extensive I/O mix and high performance required. These small form factor platforms are smaller and lighter saving space, power, weight, and cost and at the same time provide more features and capabilities. Scalable and ruggedized, new avionics subsystems meet specific harsh environment requirements while also providing the ability to easily customize solutions. Providing a standards-based foundation, these solutions are equipped with advanced firmware and software designed to handle growing demands for connectivity and high density multi-protocol requirements in small form factor rugged enclosures. Optimized application-ready subsystems are pre-qualified but keep design options flexible to enable fast deployment of Proof of Concept (PoC), new systems or system upgrades. The advanced technology integration of COTS Computer-based avionics subsystems also enable developers to comply with field-proven technical readiness level (TRL) mandates allowing them to effectively reduce associated development time and costs. Exemplified by DDC’s Rugged Avionics

SPECIAL FEATURE Interface Computer (AIC), developers have a flexible and scalable platform that supports a wide range of data network communications. Platforms such as the AIC provide high-density protocol bridging with a high level bridging API and an extensive range of multi-IO channel configurations supported by an embedded XMC module and two mini-PCIe modules (Figure 2). The system combines best-in-class performance from Intel’s embedded computing architecture. For instance, the system can perform based on very low power Intel Atom processors or be deployed as a more powerful Intel Core i7-based system. The I/O flexibility of DDC’s High Density Multi-Protocol XMC and Mini-PCIe modules gives developers the ability to add optimized avionics connectivity in a small form factor, application-ready and rugged enclosure. Maximizing technology investments and reduced time to market are key challenges for military avionics systems developers. Leveraging integrated building block computing architecture for rugged avionics applications provides the sound basis for successful configurable platforms capable of meeting a broad range of I/O and network communications requirements. Scalable by design, the latest avionics multi-protocol platforms allow reuse enabling customized solutions that speeds design to deployment of new or system upgrades while reducing long-term costs and engineering resources.

Long-Term Design Strategies U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command states “military power in the 21st century will be defined by our ability to adapt.” As modern avionics system designs advance, it will be important to adapt and support all relevant military avionics interface schemes from 1553 networks to an Ethernet-centric topology. Taking a COTS computing approach that uses COMs’ standard LAN, SATA, video, audio, GPIO, configurable serial ports, and multiple USB features, permits variable I/O to be designed in through application-specific customization on the carrier board. Integrating these benefits, new avionics subsystems such as the Rugged AIC from DDC, enable remote multi-interface connections to help fulfill this transformation. Enhancing avionics system design options, maximizing portability of the application and increasing data application performance, these next-genera-

tion subsystems provide flexibility in system design topologies and reduce both initial and recurring development costs. While there is no “one solution fits all” for modern avionics networking, multi-protocol avionics computers flexibly fill the gap in many design scenarios. Leveraging configurable computer-based platforms allows these latest computing-based systems meet the full complement of avionics I/O, save precious SWaP and reduce costs as well—all in a single small form factor. Significantly in this age of reduced budgets, proven designs can be reused, giving defense developers a competitive advantage in meeting design requirements while reducing the need for development resources and avoiding additional customization costs.

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The 68G5 is a low-power/high performance multi-function I/O and communications board that accelerates deployment of SWaP-optimized systems in air, land and sea applications. Choose from more than 40 intelligent I/O, communications, or Ethernet switch functions for the highest packaging density and greatest flexibility of any multi-function I/O board in the industry. Off-the-shelf solution Air-cooled or conduction-cooled I/O & communications libraries included

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TECH RECON Video Processing Boards and Systems

SWaP and Cost Savings Abound Using VNX Approach Rolling the advantages of VPX into a compact format with enclosure flexibility, VNX provides a great path toward shrinking SWaP and cost. An avionics display processing applications shows the strengths of the VNX architecture. Andrew Hull, PhD, Senior Staff Engineer, Elbit Systems of America Wayne McGee, VP Sales, Creative Electronic Systems


he VNX (VITA 74) specification gives military and aerospace system architects new freedom to place the appropriate modern computing node, or nodes, on a vehicle while taking Size, Weight and Power (SWaP) into consideration. In addition to SWaP, consideration is given to cost savings. The VNX specification borrows liberally from the VPX and OpenVPX standards as well as the VITA 57 FMC specification. As a result, lessons learned from these preceding specifications were incorporated into the VNX documents. VNX defines two standard modules. Each are 89 mm by 75 mm, but differ in thickness and the number of pins associated with each module. Figure 1a shows a 12.5 mm module with its associated 200 pin connector, while Figure 1b shows the 19 mm module with its associated 400 pin connector. The connector shown here is the same connector type that was qualified for the VITA 57 FMC spec. It has excellent high frequency as well as shock and vibration characteristics. The 12.5 mm module is well suited for applications such as an I/O carrier for MiniPCIe mezzanine cards, data storage, or functions such as GPS. The 19 mm module has a higher power dissipation capability and can host functions such as Single Board Computers, Software Defined 18

COTS Journal | June 2015

Figure 1a & 1b 1a (left) shows a 12.5 mm VNX module with its associated 200 pin connector. And 1b (right) shows the 19 mm module with its associated 400 pin connector. Radio components, Graphics/ Video, FPGAs or more complex I/O implementations.

Enclosure Flexibility with VNX One of the many strengths of the VNX specification is that it is does not define the enclosure. As a result, the system architect is free to configure the modules in the most appropriate combinations for the specific deployment. Modules are inherently conduction cooled allowing maximum flexibility for cooling the enclosure. Various enclosure designs include cooling by natural convection, conduction cooling, and forced convection cooling. Enclosures vary in size from a sleeve to hold a single module to designs incorporating more than ten modules. Figure 2 shows an example of a

convection cooled VNX enclosure supporting two 19 mm and one 12.5 mm slots. The enclosure shown is roughly 5- x6- x5-inches and weighs approximately 4 pounds. Electrical signaling and bus structure is the same as VPX and provides exceptional inter-module connectivity. In fact, the VNX connector used has a higher frequency capability than its VPX brothers and should have an easier time with PCIe Gen 3 signaling. Initial mechanical designs with VNX modules produced a power dissipation capability of approximately 10 watts for the 12.5 mm module and 20 W for the 19 mm module. More recent designs, which are fully compliant with the existing specification, have boosted power dissipation capability by 50 percent bringing the rates to 15


Figure 2 Shown here is an example of a convection cooled VNX enclosure.

and 30 W respectively. For single board computer designs in a 19 mm module, higher power dissipation provides the ability to host higher end multi-core Intel Atom and AMD G series SOC processors for x86 architectures as well as QorIQ P2 series PPC and ARM processors. The microprocessors are powerful enough to handle many tasks performed by top-ofthe-line desktop processors just a few years ago. The power envelope is suitable for FPGA designs with mid-range products such as the Kintex 7 or Stratix V. Video and graphics processing are served with integral GPUs on the SBCs or separate modules using media processors such as the DaVinci chip.

on 3U VPX are typically housed in a ½ ATR Short enclosure with external dimensions of 4.88- x12.5- x7.6-inches. They typically range in weight from 11 to 22 pounds. Comparing a 5 slot ½ ATR Short 3U VPX computer to a 5 slot VNX computer, the VNX enclosure comes in at 5.2- x5.7- x6.5-inches. The typical weight range for the VNX computer is 4 to 6 pounds. The volume for the 3U VPX system is 641 cubic inches and the VNX system is 194 Cubic inches. The VNX system represents a roughly 50 percent weight reduction and 30 percent of the volume. So far we have discussed the Size, Weight and Power of VNX as compared to VPX. Cost is another issue where VNX has advantages. The Multi-gig RT connectors for VPX are substantially more expensive than the connectors used for VNX. VPX uses multiple connectors per board, VNX uses one. The number of connectors for a VPX system can be more than twice that of a VNX system. This is due to the mating connectors for the backplane connectors usually being fully

populated whether or not all of the slots are used. The VPX heat frame, front panel, ejectors and wedgelocks are substantially more expensive than the metalwork assembly for the VNX modules. Circuit boards for the VNX modules are about the size of a business card. Not only are they less expensive, but they have a higher resistance to shock and vibration due to the higher natural resonant frequencies of the smaller assembly. All of these advantages on a per module basis translate into substantial savings at the system level.

Making Cockpit Displays Smart Smart displays provide an affordable means to upgrade aircraft capability. Converting “dumb” multi-function displays into “smart” displays affords the designer of mission systems for modern fighter aircraft opportunities for significant improvement. The smart display concept can be introduced into the mission system configuration in phases.

3U VPX vs. VNX 3U VPX, with its larger form factor, is able to support higher power dissipation than its VNX brothers. 3U conduction cooled single board computers typically average between 30 to 60 W of power dissipation based primarily on the microprocessor installed. For applications requiring the additional processing capability, the price is paid in size, weight, power and cost. With the high performance lower powered multicore processors available today, many applications do not require the upper end of the processor performance range. No discussion about SWaP would be complete without discussing size and weight. Typical mission computers based on 6U VME or VPX are housed in a 1 ATR Short enclosure with external dimensions of 10.1x12.5- x7.6-inches. The typical weight range is 22 to 44 pounds. Mission computers based

Figure 3a & 3b Shown here are typical aircraft display avionics configurations: (a): Legacy MFD Architecture; (b): Smart Display Architecture.

COTS Journal | June 2015



Figure 4 V-22 aircraft Multi-Function Display (MFD) technology. On the left is a full-size 6- x 6-inch display and on the right is an upgraded 6- x 6- slim display.

Two avionics architectures are generally used to support cockpit displays. These are shown at high level in Figure 3. If cockpit graphics are shown on multi-function displays (MFD), a centralized architecture as in Figure 3(a) is used. Data processing is performed in either the Mission Computer (MC) or a Display Generator (DG). Video is transmitted over a video interface to the MFD. The MFD reports health status (BIT) and operator inputs over a serial control interface. This approach minimizes the interfaces the MFD has to support. It concentrates additional aircraft interfaces in the MC or DG. A Smart Display enables a distributed architecture as shown in Figure 3(b). This approach may be conceptually described as moving the processing capability of the Display Generator into the MFD itself. Several smaller graphics processing elements housed within the smart display replace a large, powerful Display Generator. This approach reduces the processing burden of the centralized mission processing elements. Smart displays also support a larger number of aircraft interfaces.

Distributed Architecture Smart displays intrinsically enable a distributed architecture. The distributed configuration provides several advantages for system upgrade and modification. New display capability is easily added to the smart display-based architecture without 20

COTS Journal | June 2015

modifying mission computer Operational Flight Program (OFP) software. This significantly reduces the cost of upgrades by eliminating expensive regression testing and recertification of the OFP. Only new software undergoes the rigors of certification for flight. The smart displays also provide opportunities to segregate classified software from the mission computer. This separates the upgrades of sensors with advanced and classified capabilities from the flight systems in the mission computer OFP. The classified software can be isolated into a display processor and kept separate from the unclassified mission computer OFP. A radar upgrade presents these challenges. Replacing legacy radar with new AESA radar introduces classified capabilities into a potentially unclassified environment. The mode control and processing required to support the AESA radar could be kept out of the mission computer. This greatly reduces the test and certification burden of the upgrade. The migration from centralized graphics processing to distributed, smart displays is enabled by compact, powerful and low-power graphics processing. The updated, smart display cannot grow significantly in volume, cannot require significantly more power and may be restricted in its ability to dissipate heat. The solution is enabled through low SWaP VNX processing introduced into the MFD design.

updated with modern LCD displays. The key components of an MFD are: the Bezel, the Display Head Assembly, the Display Controller, the Aircraft Interface/ Connectors and the Power Supply. The Bezel provides the user control interface. Its output is typically a low-speed serial interface back to the graphics rendering device – either a mission computer or display generator. The Display Head Assembly (DHA) is the image display device and requisite support circuitry. The interface into the DHA is commonly Low Voltage Differential Signaling (LVDS) for LCDbased displays. Support circuitry includes backlighting and perhaps a display heater for cold temperature turn-on. The Display Controller (DC) provides a graphics interface to the mission system. The DC provides an interface between the high-level mission system graphics formats and the native drive required by the DHA. Examples of typical graphics formats and interfaces are VGA, RS-170, and DVI. High definition video is becoming more prevalent in aircraft environments through both improved video sensors and more capable avionics graphics generators. This requires the DC to support high-speed digital video interfaces such as SMPTE-292. The DC converts these video signals into values for each pixel on the display surface, typically through the LVDS interface.

Upgrading the MFD

Upgraded into a smart display, the display rendering components of the MFD—Bezel, DHA and DC—remain unchanged. The interfaces and potentially the power supply have to be changed. New smart capabilities are introduced by integrating several additional VNX components with the original display. The additional processing capability must fit in the volume already defined for the MFD. VITA 74 conformant processing hardware can be packaged into non-traditional form factors that fit into the unusual volumes and mechanical designs that result from aircraft display upgrades. The packaging freedom inherent in the VNX standard simplifies the introduction of these processing elements into the existing MFD. The space savings demonstrated by

The MFD is a common aircraft cockpit element used to present graphical and textual information from a variety of applications to the aircrew. In legacy aircraft, the initial displays were CRTs. Subsequent upgrades introduced LCD technology. Upgraded, LCD-based displays are generally smaller in volume. The V-22 cockpit display upgrade path is an example of this pattern. The initial displays for the V-22 were CRT MFDs. These displays were subsequently upgraded to LCD technology. Figure 4 compares the full-size original MFD to the modern, slim MFD display. The new V-22 MFD does not require the original volume of the original display. This frequently occurs in legacy aircraft where original CRT displays are

Packaging Freedom

A19_COTS_2_25x9_875_A19.qxd 5/4/15 4:11 PM


the smaller, LCD-based display upgrade shown in Figure 5 is typical of legacy aircraft upgrade. This space affords the designer the opportunity to place processing capability. The processing can be located within an expanded MFD package or external to the original MFD envelope. The available volume of the display provides space for standards-compliant VNX small form factor processing and interface electronic modules. A 12.5 mm module configured to host an FPGA is generally adequate to support the additional interfaces for the smart display. A 19 mm module supports the single board computer that provides the display intelligence. Highly integrated, GPGPU processors such as the AMD G-series SOC are ideal processing elements. “Dumb” displays are readily updated into smart MFDs using this VNX approach. The creativity of the designer is the key to fitting these pieces into the available volume. These VNX modules can be integrated into a multi-slot chassis or individually brought into the MFD.

Cooling Challenges The display mounting can also present challenges to cooling the processor. Cooling air is often unavailable for displays. This requires a conduction cooled approach for the avionics necessary to support a smart display. This cooling methodology is inherent in the VNX standard. The family of display processors supported by VNX exceeds the requirements of the most demanding display graphics. An updated smart display also requires that the MFD support new video and network interfaces. This requirement can generally be met by a small, 12.5 mm VNX IO module. This is a flexible approach that permits ready upgrade and fits within the SWaP constraints of the display element. The commonality of VNX with VPX and OpenVPX supports the use of standard high-speed communications to communicate with the legacy DC or MC processing system. The updated intelligent display system gives the platform a low-cost way to an open architecture to host demanding new mission applications. The power requirements of added processing must be minimized when adding processing capability to an MFD. This permits the designer to consider retaining the

original power supply if that unit has margin. Alternatively, a new power supply may be necessary, one that is compatible with the space and cooling limitations of the display mounting location. A VNX upgrade to the display is inherently low power and can easily achieve these goals.

VNX: the New Way to Reduce SWaP VNX provides a new approach to managing and minimizing SWaP in electronic systems. This provides a natural means to upgrade legacy equipment with new capabilities. Smart displays are one such application. Designers can use VNX to introduce Open architecture solutions into federated legacy equipment. Modularity is enabled by the approach to standardization taken by the VNX standards body. Free from a one-size-fits-all enclosure standard, VNX enables creative solutions where the processing is appropriate for the need and volume presented by the platform. The VNX standard affords the designer unrivaled opportunity to provide standards conformant, Open Architecture solutions with flexibility, and freedom from unnecessary design constraints. Creative Electronic Systems Geneva, Switzerland +41 (0)22 884 51 00

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COTS Journal | June 2015


SYSTEM DEVELOPMENT Military Applications for MIcroTCA

MicroTCA Offers Attractive Choice for Many Mil Applications With size, weight, power and cost reductions on the forefront of military design priorities, MicroTCA is capturing more mindshare across a growing spectrum of applications. Justin Moll, Director of Marketing, Vadatech


here’s no doubt that MicroTCA has found its way into defense projects for many years now. Early applications were largely communications-based systems. But in the past couple of years, the increased focus on high performance systems with lower Size, Weight, Power, & Cost (SWaP-C) has expanded the architecture’s success. This includes four main categories: radar signal acquisition and processing, data processing and communications, situational awareness, and data storage/RAID systems. For high-performance defense systems, these days there are three main Modular Open Standard Architecture (MOSA) options: AdvancedTCA (ATCA), MicroTCA, and OpenVPX. ATCA is used in some applications where the tremendous bandwidth, cooling capability, and large board size is an advantage. Most defense applications require a smaller and lighter form factor. MicroTCA and OpenVPX offer close to the bandwidth/throughput capability of ATCA, but are smaller. However, as a rule of thumb MicroTCA is close to half the size, weight, and cost of OpenVPX (3 out of 4 of SWaP-C) with the power being applicationdependent. Other advantages include a truly interoperable ( from the ground up) architecture, inherent system management/ reliability, dedicated SAS/SATA signals for 22

COTS Journal | June 2015

Figure 1 These example MicroTCA configurations for Mil/Aero applications include systems for data storage RAID and signal processing systems for video/imaging, radar data acquisition, and sonar communications.

storage, electronic keying and FRU identification, and more.

Data Acquisition and Processing MicroTCA has been taking off like wildfire in the signal processing space for radar, Electronic Warfare (EW), and Signal Intelligence (SIGINT). A recent SIG-INT application used a 5U system for wideband interception and direction finding on a very wide 200 MHz instantaneous bandwidth over the full VHF/UHF band. The unit connected to an external RF front-end system and interfaced with a DF antenna in a ground vehicle. Multiple Virtex-6 FPGAs took the heavy data processing, each with an FMC as a digitizing mezzanine. The FMC had a 12bit at 4.0 Gsample/s ADC and a 14-bit at 5.8

Gsample/s DAC (in multi-mode). An Intel 4-core Processor handled the pre-and-post processing, along with a removable 2.5 inch SSD storage module with SATA. MicroTCA was an attractive architecture because of its near 1.5x SWAP-C advantages, system management/reliability, and interoperable routing of PCIe across the modules. As the rack was shock-mounted, heavy ruggedization was not required. Figure 1 shows system configuration examples of radar signal processing, situation awareness, data processing and communications, and data storage RAID applications. The SIGINT/EW platform is very similar in configuration to the image on the bottom right. Another application utilized a rugged 1U chassis platform for airborne and fixed-

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Figure 2 The digitizer can come in many styles including combined ADC and DAC, dual DAC or dual ADC, or combined on an AMC module with a high-performance FPGA.

ground systems. The modular approach of MicroTCA was attractive as the same types of modules can be used in multiple locations, with a different mix of functions. Plus, typical Eurocard solutions would require a chassis of 3U to height, taking up valuable space and adding weight. This radar data acquisition and processing system’s 6-slot chassis had a front-to-rear cooling configuration, which was required for the design. It uses multiple Virtex-7 FPGAs with highGSPS ADC and DAC modules. A second configuration of this system utilized dual FPGAs/FMCs in a Small Form Factor (SFF) enclosure. Additionally, the 1U rugged chassis was also used as a separate rugged storage solution in the airborne application. The customer was able to reduce overall system costs by leveraging the same chassis, FPGAs, and digitizers across multiple platforms.

as the FPGA Carrier and its corresponding mezzanine, the FMC. This approach provides the advantage of versatility of re-use of the same FPGA Carrier with various FMC implementations (networking, digitizing, RF) that are used depending on the application. Plus, it is easy to upgrade to higher performance in future refreshes with the FMC approach. Alternatively, the two functions of the FPGA and FMC can be combined in one module. Sometimes this is necessary if the design requires more pins than available on the FMC. There is also the advantage of less parts/SKUs and potentially cost savings of designing/manufacturing just one module. Figure 2 shows an example a high GSPS ADC and DAC (on the left), a dual high GSPS ADC, and a combined Virtex-7 FPGA and dual high GSPS DAC.

Mixing FPGAs, ADCs, and More

MicroTCA/AMC has a long history in the data processing and communications space in Mil/Aero applications. Years ago, these designs were largely networking systems with the wealth of Ethernet, Serial RapidIO, and PCIe modules available in the ecosystem. Today, these solutions are taking on more of the heavy data processing from C4ISR missions, radar subsystems, etc. The speeds have since increased to PCIe Gen3, 40 GbE, and SRIO Gen2. One such application is a European system for a mobile radar system. The unit used a 5U 40 GbE platform with Layer 3 switches with a 12-port network interface and multiple Intel PCIe modules for data processing. MicroTCA’s inherent ability to offer multiple fabric interfaces across a standard backplane without customization was a key advantage. The

Using a 5U 40 GbE chassis, another U.S. prime contractor used a mix of several Kintex-7 FPGAs and a mid-grade ADC on an FMC for a lower cost system. The Kintex FPGA offers over 400K logic cells and 1500 DSP slices at a much lower cost than the Virtex-7. The FMC has special IRIG-B provisions to utilize the legacy time coding standard. Scalability and full redundancy was critical in this application. Therefore the 5U chassis with 12 slots, redundant power and fan trays, and dual MCHs was chosen instead of the 1U size. For all of these applications, there is flexibility at the module-level for performing the DAQ/processing functions. For example, the FPGA and digitizing combination can be incorporated in separate modules, such 24

COTS Journal | June 2015

C4ISR Data Processing and Comms

MCH provides a highly-integrated switch and clocking sub-system, containing functionality that would previously have required additional modules. In a similar 1U rugged chassis platform as described earlier, a customer is using the system for a communications system for a towed sonar array. Precision timing was critical for the communications system, so the GPS/IEEE 1588/SyncE was important. The ability to be out of range/sight of the network with a time holdover crystal was also critical. This allows the system to keep exact timing even when shut down or out of range. Image/video processing is another key area for Mil/Aero systems. As ISR systems gather data, they require powerful GPGPUs to handle the video quality/resolution. To handle the massive data of the video streams to multiple outputs, processors with very high core counts can be utilized. MicroTCA has a wealth of options of graphics, I/O, processors, etc., in its ecosystem to meet the requirements for situational awareness applications.

Data Storage RAID and Hybrids As a 2nd subsystem as part of the radar signal processing application, one prime contractor utilizes a separate data storage solution. Using the same 1U rugged chassis as described above, the system has multiple mSATA carriers that can hold up to 8x 1 Terabyte memory. Therefore, each 75mm x 180mm AMC can hold 8 Terabytes of mSATA memory. Another slot provides integrated RAID 0, 1, 1E, and 10. With host bus adapters on-board, the modules can be routed across the x4 or x8 PCIe fabric (or extended ports) for high bandwidth transmission. In a 1U system, the rugged RAID system can have 40

Figure 3 By employing a midplane, 12 AMC slots are available in a 1U MicroTCA chassis with x8 PCIe Gen3 connectivity to each slot.

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When the success of your project is on the line, you can’t afford to waste time and money on poor technical support or products with long lead times. Call WinSystems and you’ll speak directly with an Applications Engineer in our Arlington, Texas facility. Our Engineers are ready to guide you through product selection, customization, troubleshooting, and life-long support of our product. WinSystems keeps most products in stock so we can ship your order within 1-2 business days. Let us put over three decades of embedded computer experience, integrity, and service to work for you.

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Figure 4 Conduction-cooled configurations are used in both ATR formats and Small Form Factor (SFF) enclosures.

Terabytes of mSATA with integrated RAID. In a similar Network Attached Storage approach, up to 12 slots can be utilized in a 1U commercial chassis (in a mid-plane design). By incorporating a 96-port switch with the shelf manager, each of the 12 slots can have x8 PCIe Gen3 connectivity. Figure 3 shows an example of a 1U PCIe Gen3 chassis. This design concept could provide linerate storage with a mix of options for various SSD modules in SAS-3 or SATA III, RAID modules, or hybrids of the two. With the modular approach of MicroTCA it is easy to various combinations of the features/functionality of signal processing, data/FGPA processing, general purpose processing, video/image processing, and storage into the same system. For example, in the 1U Rugged Chassis Platform one customer is utilizing both RAID storage and radar signal processing in the same system for an airborne application. The application utilizes 6 slots with GPS/IEEE 1588/SyncE for precision timing and time stamping.



Avionics Databus Solutions

ARINC429 AFDX®/ARINC664P7 Fibre Channel ARINC825 ARINC818

Modules – Software – Systems

Solving all your Avionics Databus Needs – Right on Target. 26

COTS Journal | June 2015

AIM Office Contacts: AIM USA LLC - Trevose, PA AIM GmbH - Freiburg AIM GmbH - Munich Sales Office


SFF and Hardened Versions A couple of the prime contractors in these applications are planning to expand the use of these systems into highly ruggedized environments, leveraging many of the same modules. For example, one of the data processing applications requires a fully hardened chassis for MIL-STD-810G and 901D for shock and vibration. With MicroTCA.3, the contractor can utilize the same FPGAs and other modules in conduction-cooled clamshells. One of the applications alluded-to earlier uses dual AMCs in a Small Form Factor (SFF) enclosure. Not truly MicroTCA as there is not an MCH, the AMC enclosure holds dual FPGAs with ADC and DAC modules on FMCs. As the FPGA modules have on-board PowerPCs, each FPGA can act as an independent host, saving a slot. Figure 4 shows a MicroTCA ATR and dual AMC enclosure that are conduction-cooled.

MicroTCA’s Strong Position As SWaP-C is a primary concern for Mil/Aero applications, MicroTCA has naturally become a primary choice for design engineers. The COTS architecture is also used in many Communications, Transportation, and Research/Physics applications, providing economies of scale and a rich, diverse ecosystem. The highest performance ADC and DAC modules, FPGAs, processors up to 72 cores, graphics modules, and storage solutions are found in the MicroTCA architecture. The defense market has certainly taken notice. Vadatech Henderson, NV (702) 896-3337

COTS Journal | June 2015


DATA SHEET PC/104 and PC/104 Family Boards Roundup

PC/104 Board Advances Lower Costs and Boost Functionality PC/104 and all its follow on variants such as PCIe/104 and PCI/104-Express are popular solutions for space-constrained military systems. New connection options let designer’s lower costs, while opening up board real estate. Jeff Child, Editor-in-Chief


ow with more than two decades under its belt, the PC/104 form factor and its follow-on variants remain staples for both legacy and new military embedded systems. Since the initial release of the PC/104 specification in March of 1992, the technology’s open design provides the power and flexibility of a PC compatible computer in a size ideally suited for embedding. PC/104 along with its wider family of follow on versions including PC/104-Plus, PCI-104, PCIe/104, PCI/104-Express and EPIC—provide a mix of functionality and low SWaP footprint that today’s military system developers are hungry for. This year’s roundup on the next couple of pages showcases a mix of representative examples of PC/104, PC/104-Plus, PCIe/104 and PCI/104-Express board products. There’s a mix of PCIe/104 and PCI/104-Express boards along with PC/104 and PC/104-Plus designs upgraded to sport the latest processor and memory technologies. Also gaining ground are boards that include Mini PCIe sockets. MiniPCIe acts as a ling of small mezzanine function, and leverages the emerging ecosystem of Mini PCIe peripheral cards that have become available. For its most recent enhancement to the PC/104 universe, earlier this year the PC/104 Consortium announced the latest revision of the PCI/104-Express and PCIe/104 Specifica28

COTS Journal | June 2015

Figure 1 PC/104 technology has been used in the Joint Biological Point Detection System (JBPDS), an automated Joint biological warfare agent (BWA) detection system that can be integrated onto a service platform, shipboard or trailer mounted to provide biological detection and identification.

tion, Revision 3.0, that provides an additional option called “OneBank”. The PCIe/104 OneBank utilizes a smaller, lower-cost bus connector which is compatible to the full size PCIe/104 connector currently in use today. It allows designers to stack boards using a complimentary format that frees up PCB real estate for additional components as well as potential cost savings. The OneBank connector concept consists of removing two of the three “banks” of

the standard PCIe/104 connector, resulting in a 52-pin connector as opposed to the fullsize 156-pin connector. The OneBank connector is positioned so that it will plug into the bank 1 of the standard PCIe/104 connector. Thus, the signals of the OneBank include the same four x1 PCI Express Links, Two USB 2.0, ATX power and control signals: +5V Standby, Power supply on, Power Good, Power: +3.3V, +5V (reduced current) as found on the first bank of the standard PCIe/104 bus making them plug in compatible. This preserves the stackability and compatibility of PCI/104Express and PCIe/104 modules along with the new OneBank modules. By removing two of the banks, 0.513 in2 of PCB real estate on each side is freed up. And with speed scales up to PCIe Gen 3 on the PCIe/104 bus, developers are given plenty of bandwidth for the future even with just four x1 PCIe links. PC/104 technology has been used in applications that have space constraints as well as ruggedness requirements, such as the Joint Biological Point Detection System (JBPDS) (Figure 1). The JBPDS is an automated Joint biological warfare agent (BWA) detection system designed to address the broad spectrum of operational needs required across all types of conflict conditions. It consists of a biosuite that can be integrated onto a service platform, shipboard or trailer mounted to provide biological detection and identification.


PC/104 and PC/104 Family Boards Roundup

SBC Delivers Core i7 on PCIe/104 with Type 1 Bottom-Stacking

Rugged PCI/104-Express Card Sports 3rd Gen Core i7

Atom N455/D525 PCI-104 SBC Offers LVDS, Ethernet, USB and SATA

The ADLQM67PC from ADL Embedded Solutions features first Quad core processor available in PC/104 form factor. The 2nd/3rd generation Intel Core i7 processor incorporates Intel's latest embedded two-chip platform. Processor integrates Intel’s HD Graphics 3000 engine with AVX (Advanced Vector Extensions). The ADLQM67PC brings unparalleled performance to applications such as radar and sonar processing, image signal processing, tactical command and control, surveillance and reconnaissance.

The ADLINK CoreModule 920 is a PCI/104-Express SBC (Type 1) based on the 3rd generation Intel Core i7‐3517UE processor. The PCI/104-Express stackable form factor supports both PCIe and PCI bus connectivity and allows customers to build low power solutions for space constrained, extreme rugged environments.

Advantech’s PCM-3363 supports DDR3 on board memory with lockable box wafer connecter for anti-vibration. PCM-3363 also has an enhanced reliable hardware design to guarantee 100 percent bootups, even when enduring low temperatures for extended periods of time, even down to -40 °C. It also ensures that abnormal transient power fluctuations won’t cause a system to freeze, making it suitable for unmanned and outdoor applications which occasionally experience unstable mains power.

• Intel i7 2nd/3rd Gen Dual/Quad 2.1GHz - 3GHz. • Up to 8 Gbytes of DDR3-1333 DRAM. • Type 1 Bottom-Stacking PCIe/104 V2.01 with Gen2 protocol (2.5 to 5 GT/s). • Discrete 16-bit digital I/O port as well as separate VGA, LVDS, HDMI and Display Port interfaces. • 2x RS232 COM ports, 2x SATA 6Gbit/s with RAID support, 8x USB2.0, two bootable Gigabit Ethernet LAN and HDA 7.1. ADL Embedded Solutions San Diego, CA (858) 490-0597.

FIND the products featured in this section and more at


COTS Journal | June 2015

• Dual-core 3rd Generation Intel Core processor. • Up to 4 Gbytes of industrial grade solder down ECC 1600MHz DDR3 memory. • One HDMI, one VGA, and one 18/24-bit LVDS display interfaces. • 8 Gbyte industrial grade Solid State Disk. • One PCIe x16 (Gen 3) and 1 x4 or 4 x1 (Gen 2). • Two SATA 6 Gbit/s ports, two Gigabit Ethernet, four USB 2.0 interfaces, and two serial ports. • PCI/104-Express Type 1 and PCI/104 expansion interfaces. • Operating temperature: -40°C to +85° degrees C. ADLINK Technology San Jose, CA (408) 360-0200.

• Intel Atom N455 1.66 GHz Single Core/ D525 Dual Core 1.8 GHz Processor. • Supports extended temperature -40 to 85 degrees C. • 24-bit LVDS support and onboard 1 Gbyte DDR3 800 MHz memory. • HALT tested and 100 percent locked connector. • Supports Lite iManager, SUSIAccess and Embedded Software APIs. Advantech Irvine, CA (800) 866-6008.


Our new “Data Sheet” style round-up format Links to the full data sheets for each of these products are posted on the online version of this section.

PC/104-Plus Card Has 1.33 GHz Atom and TPM Technology

PC/104-Plus SBCs Sport Bay Trail Processor and Rich I/O

PCIe/104 SBC Marries 2.1 GHz Core i7 and 32 GB SSD

The Curtiss-Wright Controls Defense Solutions ISIS XL SBC provides Intel’s new low-power 45nm Atom LPIA architecture in a modular PC/104-Plus form factor module specifically designed for extended temperature and harsh environment operation. The card also features an Atmel Trusted Platform Module (TPM) device compliant with TCG v1.2 to enable customers to deploy trusted computing solutions compliant with hardware security initiatives currently mandated by the US Government.

The Aries PC/104-Plus SBC from Diamond Systems uses the Intel “Bay Trail” E3800 series processor blended with a professional-quality data acquisition circuit supported by industry-leading software. The full rectangular shape of Aries provides more PCB area and coastline to support the extreme level of I/O offered by the board.

The CMA34CRQ from RTD Embedded Technologies is a quad-core PC/104 single board computer with a PCIe/104 stackable bus structure. As a part of RTD's advanced PCI Express offering, this Intel Core i7 based CPU is exceptionally suited for applications requiring performance-rich technologies. The surface-mount Type 2 PCI Express connectors enable users to stack multiple peripheral modules above and below the CPU.

• Intel Atom -40/+85C Industrial Temperature Package CPU at 1.33 GHz.

• Dual independent display, selectable from VGA, LVDS LCD, and HDMI / DisplayPort.

• High-performance x86 compatibility in a fanless, consumes less than 5W. • Interfaces: USB, VGA, LVDS, HD-Audio, Serial, Ethernet, GPIO, and IDE. • Trusted Platform Module (TPM) Device. • 20-Channel GPS receiver. • Expansion Buses: ISA, PCI, PCI-Express Mini. Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions Ashburn, VA. (703) 779-7800.

• Choice of quad core E3845 1.91GHz or dual core E3826 1.46 GHz processor. • 2 or 4 Gbyte memory soldered on board.

• A broad range of system I/O, including 4 multiprotocol serial ports, 3 USB ports, 2 10/100/1000 Ethernet ports, and 1 SATA port. • PC/104-Plus and PCIe MiniCard / mSATA sockets • Optional integrated professional quality 16-bit data acquisition. • Conduction cooling for improved reliability and high temperature performance. Diamond Systems Mountain View, CA. (650) 810-2500.

• PC/104 form factor, PCIe/104 stackable bus structure, PCIe Type 2 expansion buses. • Intel Core i7 2.1 GHz 3612QE Quad-Core Processor. • Dual-Channel DDR3 SDRAM surfacemounted 4 and 8 Gbyte options. • Surface-mounted industrial-grade SATA 32 Gbyte flash drive. • Eight x1 PCIe Links, Three x4 PCIe Links, Five SATA Ports, Four Serial Ports (RS-232/422/485), Four USB 3.0 Ports on Type 2 expansion buses. • Dual Gigabit Ethernet. RTD Embedded Technologies State College, PA. (814) 234-8087.

FIND the products featured in this section and more at

COTS Journal | June 2015


DATA SHEET | PC/104 and PC/104 Family Boards Roundup

PC/104 Card Serves up Wealth of Analog and Digital I/O

Bay Trail Based PCIe/104 SBC Supports OneBank Format

Sensoray’s Model 526 is a versatile analog and digital I/O system on a PC/104 board. It has eight digital I/Os with edge detection, eight 16-bit analog inputs, four 16-bit analog outputs, four counter/ timers that can directly interface to incremental encoders, an interrupt timer, and a watchdog timer. The board's high performance, compact size, and diverse resources make it ideally suited for a wide range of measurement and control applications.

The Bengal from Versalogic is a lowpower / high-performance single board computer (SBC) with a full complement of on-board I/O. It provides up to 1.9 GHz of performance with quad, dual and singlecore processor options. Bengal is built on the new “PCIe/104 OneBank” format. Compatible with the PCI/104 Express format, it includes a legacy PCI connector, and a single bank high-speed PCIe connector.

• Four 24-bit quadrature encoder inputs. • Four 16-bit analog outputs. • Eight 16-bit analog inputs. • Eight digital I/O. • Single supply (5 V) input power. • Programmable interrupt timer. • Versatile watchdog timer. • xPC Target Real-time rapid prototyping software available through MathWorks. Sensoray Tigard, OR (503) 684-8005.

• 1.9 GHz Intel Atom “Bay Trail” Processor. Quad, dual or single core options. • Integrated Intel Gen 7 graphics core supports DirectX 11, OpenGL 4.0, and H.264, MPEG-2 encoding/decoding. Analog and Dual mini DisplayPort video outputs. • On-board TPM security chip. • Up to 8 Gbytes of DDR3L DRAM. • Dual Ethernet interfaces, one USB 3.0 port and five USB 2.0 ports, dual serial ports, three timer/counters, I2C, PWM output, and audio support. • Industry-standard PC/104 OneBank expansion. VersaLogic Tualatin, OR (503) 747-2261.

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COTS Journal | June 2015

1.66 GHz Atom PC/104-Plus SBC Features -40 to +85 degrees C Operation Winsystems’ PPM-C393-S is a Single Board Computer (SBC) with PC/104-Plus expansion that uses Intel’s Atom N455 single-core 1.66GHz processor paired with the ICH8M I/O controller hub. This SBC is a full-featured unit with onboard I/O that supports CRT/LVDS video simultaneously, a Gbit Ethernet port, eight USB 2.0 ports, two serial RS-232/422/485 COM channels, two serial RS-232 COM channels, audio, and a watchdog timer. • Low Power 1.66 GHz Intel Atom N455 processor. • PC/104 computer module with SUMIT and PC104 Expansion. • Fanless operation. • Eight USB 2.0 ports, four serial ports (two RS-232/422/485 and two RS-232), 10/100/1000 Mbps Ethernet port. • CompactFlash socket. • Dual video with simultaneous LVDS and CRT outputs. • -40 °C to +85 °C temperature operation. WinSystems Arlington, TX (817) 274-7553.


TE Connectivity’s (TE) INSTALITE Molded Boots and new Black Zinc Nickel Plating provide a smart, lightweight solution for harsh environments • INSTALITE Molded Boots provide a rugged, low-weight sealed harness solution • Black Zinc Nickel Plating for connectors and backshells is a RoHS-compliant alternative to cadmium plating that meets tightening environmental restrictions

©2015 TE Connectivity Ltd. All Rights Reserved. INSTALITE, EVERY CONNECTION COUNTS, TE, TE Connectivity and the TE connectivity (logo) are trademarks of the TE Connectivity Ltd. family of companies.


PRODUCT GALLERY MULTIGIG RT 2-R Connectors TE Connectivity’s MULTIGIG RT 2-R Connector quad-redundant contact system offers rugged survivability with high level shock and vibration beyond VITA 47, a lightweight, high-speed connector system, a “pinless” Interface tested to 10,000 mating/unmating cycles and backward compatibility to VITA 46 connector systems.

TE Connectivity Phone: (800) 522-6752 Web:


COTS Journal | June 2015

Aries PC/104-Plus SBC with Intel Bay Trail CPU & On-board Data Acquisition ARIES is a highly integrated PC/104-Plus SBC based on the Intel E3800 Bay Trail CPU. Aries’ offers an excellent CPU performance / power consumption ratio, high feature density in a compact size, integrated high-quality data acquisition, versatile I/O expansion, conduction cooling for improved high temperature performance, and rugged construction.

Diamond Systems Phone: (650) 810-2514 Web:

Optimizing SWaP is our passion.


THE SWISS RUGGED COMPUTERS COMPANY HAS A NEW LOOK! We design and manufacture rugged embedded computers engineered to meet the most demanding performance requirements with optimal Size, Weight and Power (SWaP) considerations.



FIND the products featured in this section and more at


QorIQ P3041-based SBC XMC is Safety-Certifiable Creative Electronic Systems (CES) has announces the MFCC8557: the first COTS, safety-certifiable, rugged, SBC XMC mezzanine module engineered for the most stringent missioncritical and safety-critical Aerospace and Defense applications. Designed as an XMC mezzanine module, using a Computer On Module (COM) approach, the MFCC-8557 provides a powerful computing engine to bring safety-certifiability to VPX based systems. The MFCC-8557 has been engineered for DAL safety certification, systematically applying DO-178C/DO-254 design guidelines. It can be delivered with all documentation, certification evidences and supporting artifacts required to prove compliance with design assurance qualifications of the avionic industry. The MFCC-8557 provides system engineers of airborne systems with a COTS solution to substantially reduce risks and cost in the certification process of an aircraft. Embedding a safety-proven Freescale QorIQ P3041 processor with 4 Gbytes of DDR3 and 2 Gbytes of Flash EEPROM, this XMC SBC delivers 15’000 DMIPS of processing power over the full -40°C

Extended Temperature USB Hub Mounts in 3.5 Inch Drive Bay ACCES I/O Products has announced the Model USB-3.5HUB, a rugged, industrial-strength 4-port USB hub that mounts in a 3.5 inch drive bay. This small industrial/military grade hub features extended temperature operation (-40°C to 85°C), high retention USB connectors, and an industrial steel drive bay mounting bracket for shock and vibration mitigation. The 3.5 inch front panel drive bay mounting provision allows for easy installation in rack-mount industrial and military grade style chassis. The unit makes it easy to add USB-based I/O to your embedded system or to connect peripherals such as external hard drives, GPS, wireless and more. This versatile 4-port hub is self-powered directly from the Berg connector fed from the PC power supply and can provide a full 500mA source at 5V on each of the downstream ports. Available accessories include embedded OEM USB cables for connecting to an available host USB port on your motherboard (either standard or metric spacing) and a power splitter cable in case your Berg connector is already being used. Price is $179 per unit. ACCES I/O Products San Diego, CA (858) 550-9559


COTS Journal | June 2015

to +85°C basecard edge temperature range. In safety-critical mission mode, the SBC provides 4 PCIe Gen2 links and a Fast Ethernet interface. For debug and maintenance mode, additional USB 2.0, SATA 2.0 and UARTS interfaces are available. Creative Electronic Systems Geneva, Switzerland +41 (0)22 884 51 00

Box Systems Exploit UltraScale FPGA Performance 4DSP has made two additions to its Compact Embedded System (CES) line. The CES820 and the ruggedized CESCC820 variant both feature an upgraded Xilinx Kintex UltraScale FPGA and support for the new SDAccel development environment. These standalone, small form factor systems are complete and generic processing platforms for data acquisition, signal processing, and communication. The powerful UltraScale FPGA provides a flexible processing backbone for interfacing to the FMC site, CPU, and external DDR3 SDRAM, with plenty of room left over for high-performance digital signal processing. The CES820 enclosure measures about five inches per side and weighs less than 1 kg. This system provides a quad-core, low-power Atom CPU that is tightly coupled to the UltraScale FPGA and FPGA Mezzanine Card (FMC – VITA 57.1). The CES820 is ideal for development and prototyping purposes. It can serve as a customizable standalone lab computer and instrument or as a deployed embedded solution. The ruggedized CESCC820 version features a slightly larger, more robust, and vibration-resistant chassis which offers conduction cooling and space for additional FMC modules. It optionally offers a dual 10 Gbit Ethernet port for high-bandwidth applications in the military and aerospace markets. 4DSP Austin, TX (800) 816-1751


AMC Board Delivers Four SATA III Drives and RAID Support

Compact Box System Provides Atom-Based VNX Solution Creative Electronic Systems (CES) has announced the integration of the Intel Atom E3845 processor in the ROCK-3 series as well as support for Wind River safe and secure operating system along with CoreAVI’s real time and safety critical suite of OpenGL drivers. CES ROCK-3 family is the first product line of mission computers based on VNX (VITA 74); a standards-based approach to conduction-cooled small form factor systems. The integration of the Intel Atom E3845 processor expands the range of processors offered by CES in order to accommodate the different needs that the embedded community is requesting. In addition to the AMD G-Series SoC and the Intel Atom E3845 processor CES is working on the integration of several other processor architectures. The support for Wind River VxWorks 653 Platform along with CoreAVi’s OpenGL drivers is the very first integration done in a VNX form factor. It is a step toward DO-178 safety certification and the ability to address safety critical applications within a small form factor mission computer. A new member of the ROCK-3 family with four 19mm slots and one 12.5mm slot is under development and will be soon available. Creative Electronic Systems Geneva, Switzerland +41 (0)22 884 51 00

Vadatech has announced a new Advanced Mezzanine Card (AMC) with four SATA III drives for nearly 2 Terabytes of storage in one module. The AMC623 is a mid-size, single module AMC. It can support RAID 0, 1, and 10 for striping and mirroring options. The four SATA III drives can provide a 6 Gbps data rate which is routed to the backplane via x2 PCIe lanes. The module is compliant to the AMC.1 specification. VadaTech provides a wide range of storage modules and solutions. This includes a 2.5-inch Solid State Disk (SSD), a 1.8-inch SSD, RAID Controllers, single and dual drive modules, and various combinations of these types. Vadatech Henderson, NV (702) 896-3337 SL COTS Millitary 065 1553 Ad.pdf 1 5/20/2015 10:39:28 AM



• MIL-STD-1553 BC, RT or MT Implementation • Lower Cost than 1553 ICs • Full Verification Environment • Small Footprint • Obsolescence-Proof MIL-STD-1553 COTS Expansion • PMC, PCI, PC/104+, CompactPCI, VME • Software Compatible with DDC® Mini-ACE® • 864.843.4343 FIND the products featured in this section and more at


COTS Journal | June 2015


System Host Board Delivers 80 Lanes of PCI Express

The HEP8225 HDEC Series system host board from Trenton Systems is the first in a series of next generation single board computers to deliver eighty (80) PCI Express 3.0 interfaces to an HDEC Series backplane using proven, highdensity PCIe interconnect technology. The system host board builds upon the basic goodness of PICMG 1.3 SHB's faster system MTTRs, expanded support for industry standard PCI Express plug-in cards, and built-in system longevity. The HEP8225 accomplishes this by increasing the base number of PCIe lanes between an SHB and a backplane from 20 lanes to 80 lanes. This HDEC Series 300 percent PCIe expansion over the previous PICMG 1.3 architecture significantly increases overall system bandwidth while lowering data latencies. The HEP8225’s new PCIe link expansion capability; along with additional system I/O capability, is provided by two, long-life Intel Xeon E5-2600 v3 series processors (Haswell-EP), and the board's Intel C226 platform controller hub. The 22nm Intel Micro-Architecture design (Haswell-EP) doubles the number of execution threads and processing capability compared to previous Intel processors. The board also features dual 10GbE LAN ports, dual 1GbE LAN ports, eight DDR4-2133 standard DIMM sockets and 128 Gbytes of System Memory Expandable up to 512 Gbytes. Also included are 6 USB 3.0 interfaces, 4 USB 2.0 interfaces and 8 SATA/600 interfaces. The HEP8225 design includes a standard BIOS version as well as built-in BIOS flexibility to support any needed BIOS modifications for unique system requirements. Trenton Systems Gainesville, GA (770) 287-3100

The industry’s most trusted and widely used USB interfaces

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analysis and simulation. Use it in the lab or in the field – it’s fully powered by a single USB port. Simply connect it to any available laptop, desktop or tablet PC and it’s ready to go. Add our CoPilot® interactive software for a complete easy-to-use solution.

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4/10/2015 12:28:07 PM

COTS Journal | June 2015



3U VPX Graphics Card Serves up 768 Gflops for GPGPU Applications

ADC & DAC Modules •Multi GSPS, Xilinx® suite of FPGAs •Various channels and resolution •FMC versions Processors •Wide range of Intel® & Freescale™ processors Storage Modules •2.5” SAS-3 or SATA III disks •RAID options to RAID 60 •Removable or fixed options

Superior SWaP-C Solutions For rugged solutions providing the highest performance density, come to VadaTech. Our modular openstandard designs can vastly reduce your SWaP-C and provide you with virtually unlimited configuration options! VadaTech – Redefining Performance Density • • 702.896.3337


COTS Journal | June 2015

Tech Source has released the Condor 4000 3U VPX form factor graphics/video card. Designed for compute-intensive GPGPU applications deployed in avionics and military technology, the Condor 4000 3U VPX graphics card delivers up to 768/48 Gflops of peak single/double precision floating point performance and 640 shaders with the AMD Radeon E8860 GPU at its core. The Condor 4000 3U VPX card is for seriously high-end graphics, parallel processing, and situation awareness image and sensor processing applications such as radar, sonar, video streaming, and unmanned systems. The new card operates at higher speeds than an XMC form factor equivalent card as it occupies a dedicated slot to allow for better cooling which enables it to run at 45 Watts full power. The Condor 4000 3U VPX board is fully conduction-cooled and has 6 digital video outputs (2 x DVI and 4 x DisplayPort) available from the rear VPX P2 connector on the card. It also features 2 GB of GDDR5 memory and supports the latest versions of the APIs such as Open GL 4.2, Direct X 11.1, OpenCL 1.2, and DirectCompute 11 for GPGPU computing. The Condor 4000 3U VPX card is available with Linux and Windows drivers by default and other real time operating systems such as VxWorks may be supported. Tech Source offers 15 years product support and a board customizing service for those with specialized requirements. Tech Source Altamonte Springs, FL. (407) 262-7100

Shared Memory Network Interfaces Introducing a Gigabit Speed, Low Latency, Shared Memory Network for Deterministic Applications • 2.125 Gbps optical loop network • Single-mode and multi-mode optical interfaces supported • Up to 256 Shared Memory Network Nodes • Sustained data rates up to 200 Mbyte/Sec • Up to 256 MB of Shared Memory • Device drivers for Windows, VxWorks, Linux, and LabVIEW ...with flexible hardware options and complete software support PCI

PCI Express

AIT is a division of

PXI Express



storage solutions such as the Multi-Channel Synchronized Recorder (VR-MCSR), and rugged deployable solutions such as the Compact Network Storage 4-slot (CNS4) data recorder. Ideal for use with rugged deployed aerospace and defense applications, the UCC module captures sFPDP, GbE and 10GbE data. To ensure highly accurate data recording and playback, the card performs time stamping and channel synchronization. Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions, Ashburn, VA. (703) 779-7800.

Conduction Cooled XMC Card Does sFPDP, GbE and 10GbE Data Capture Curtiss-Wright has announced that its Defense Solutions division has introduced a new high-speed data capture card for use with its family of rugged COTS data recorder solutions. The new Universal Capture Card (UCC) is Curtiss-Wright’s first conduction-cooled capture XMC (VITA 42) card designed for use with rackmounted

1U, 6-slot MicroTCA Chassis Targets Data-Centric Applicationss Pixus Technologies has introduced the PXS0108, a 1U, 6-slot, low cost, data-grade MicroTCA chassis. Without the need for expensive Power Modules (PMs) and Cooling Units (CUs), the PXS0108 is ideal for applications that do not require all of the functionality, and associated expense, of a fully compliant MicroTCA system. The PXS0108 has an active backplane that alleviates the need for expensive Power Modules (PMs). The chassis supports up to six mid-height AMCs and up to two MCHs for redundancy (in the redundant MCH configuration, up to four AMCs are supported). The chassis dimensions are 19 inches wide by 1U high by 9 inches deep. Pixus Technologies Waterloo, Ontario, Canada (519) 885-5775 Untitled-1 1


COTS Journal | June 2015

9/17/09 3:09:10 PM


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Development Systems Offer Complete FPGA 6U VPX Solution

10 kW Air-Cooled Power Supply Features High Power Density

Pentek has announced the newest member of the SPARK development systems, the Model 8264. The Model 8264 is a pre-configured 6U VPX system to speed application development for the expansive family of Pentek Cobalt Virtex-6 and Onyx Virtex-7 FPGA 6U VPX software radio and data acquisition I/O boards. This pre-integrated system not only targets research and development in a lab environment, but also serves as a platform for deployed applications. The Model 8264 starts at $17,495 for the base platform. Price includes the VPX chassis with all power supplies and fans, CPU board with rear transition module, switch card, ReadyFlow board support libraries, cables, integration, testing and set up.

Pioneer Magnetics has introduced a new Air Cooled 10kW power supply in the traditional 5- x 5-inch package. PMI Model PM36220B offers greater than 90 percent efficiency for output voltages greater than 40V at nominal line and full load. This air cooled power supply is available in 480 VAC 3P or 240 VAC 3P with 0.95 PF. It can be configured with output voltages ranging from 30 VDC to 400 VDC. This power packed unit provides continuous full power over ambient operating temperatures of 0°C to +50°C using a single, high performance fan.

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

Pioneer Magnetics Santa Monica, CA (310) 829-6751

We have your solution DIN 41 612 connectors

Stratum 1 Network Time Server Boasts Compact Footprint The Model 8461 from TRAK Microwave is a Stratum 1 Network Time Server that is synchronized from an optical IRIG-B DC-level shift link or a wireline Modulated IRIG B link providing time synchronization of less than 1 microsecond of time reference. The optical link provides a time synchronization bridge to Isolated Network Domains. The NTP server supports NTP v2, v3, v4 and SNTP clients. An onboard OCXO provides holdover capability in the event that synchronization is lost from the IRIG reference. The device footprint is a small 5.1- x 4.7- x 1.6-inches. It weighs less than 1 lb. and can withstand operating temperatures of -40ºC to +85ºC. TRAK Microwave Tampa, FL (813) 901-7200

Time-tested and still evolving ■ With 40 years of development, HARTING’s market leading connectors offer solutions for today. ■ Reduced size with one third length versions, mixed contact types with hybrid connectors. ■ Rugged shell housings address the most demanding applications. ■ Specially loaded variants deliver solutions customized to your need.


DIN_Ad_0012_R01_COTS_4.75x4.75_JUN2015.indd 1

5/26/2015 10:27:44 AM

COTS Journal | June 2015


COME JOIN US ON TUESDAY AUGUST 25!! San Diego, August 25 at the San Diego Del Mar Marriott


PANEL MODERATOR: Jeff Child, Editor-in-Chief of COTS Journal


• Military Networks

Rob Wolborsky, Space and Naval Warfare (SPAWAR) Systems Command

• Advanced Computing

Dr. Robert Smith, Lockheed Martin Howard Pace, ViaSat

and More!

Keith Smith, Northrop Grumman Will Fitzgerald, Space and Naval Warfare (SPAWAR) Systems Command Michael Twyman, Cubic Global Defense. John Quigley, SAIC

w w w . r t e c c . c o m






Digital Video Recorders

Mission Computers

Smart Display with Quad Screen Capability

Cockpit Management Units

AVALEX has partnered with all branches of the armed forces to provide COTS solutions to mission-specific challenges since 1992. Designed and manufactured in our state of the art facility in Gulf Breeze, Florida, our rugged and reliable designs are built to withstand the most extreme conditions.

WWW.AVALEX.COM [850] 470.8464 contact us by email at


COTS Journal | June 2015

Military DC-DC Power SuPPlieS VITA 62 Compliant High Efficiency Field Proven

 VITA 62 Compliant  High efficiency: 90% at full load  3U: 500W total output power  6U: 1000W and 800W total output power  Active current share through backplane  MIL-STD-461F, MIL-STD-704, and MIL-STD-810G Compliant  Qualified to the most stringent VITA-47 levels Made in the United States of America. 1-978-849-0600


ADVERTISERS INDEX GET CONNECTED WITH INTELLIGENT SYSTEMS SOURCE AND PURCHASABLE SOLUTIONS NOW Intelligent Systems Source is a new resource that gives you the power to compare, review and even purchase embedded computing products intelligently. To help you research SBCs, SOMs, COMs, Systems, or I/O boards, the Intelligent Systems Source website provides products, articles, and whitepapers from industry leading manufacturers---and it's even connected to the top 5 distributors. Go to Intelligent Systems Source now so you can start to locate, compare, and purchase the correct product for your needs.


Company Page# Website

Company Page# Website Avionics Interface Technologies..........41............ Ballard Clary...................................................43.......................................... CM Computer......................................52.............................. COTS Product Gallery..........................34......................................................... CP Data Bus Products..............................42....................... Data Device Extreme Engineering Solutions............51...................................... Inteligent Systems Mercury Systems, Inc. .........................5..................................

North Atlantic Industries..................15, One Stop Systems, Inc. ....................29, 34..................... Phoenix International Systems, Inc. .....4..................................... Pico Electronics, RTD Embedded Technologies, Inc. Sealevel Military..................................38.............................. SynQor, Inc..........................................47....................................... TE........................................................33............................ Trenton Systems, Inc. .........................37......................... VadaTech.............................................40................................... WinSystems.........................................25...............................

COTS Journal (ISSN#1526-4653) is published monthly at 905 Calle Amanecer, Suite 150, 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. 150, San Clemente, CA 92673.

COMING NEXT MONTH Special Feature: HPEC Systems Meet New Defense Priorities

While the strict definition of High Performance Embedded Computing (HPEC) varies, the basic idea is to leverage technologies like VPX and PCI Express to provide massive processing power for compute-intensive systems. Such systems can meet immense throughput and processing requirements in space-constrained systems handling more than a teraflop of data. Articles in this section look at the products and tools available to make these systems a reality.

Tech Recon Signal Chain: Dealing with SWaP Constraints in Military Data Storage

Throughout 2015 our Tech Recon feature delivers a series of sections that follow a sequential path hitting all the key technologies that are part of a signal chain. The July Signal Chain section looks at how as military systems continue to rely more and more on compute- and data-intensive software, the storage subsystem is now a mission-critical piece of the signal chain. This section examines the emergence of Ethernet and IP-based storage interfaces, while comparing how traditional interface schemes like SATA, Fibre Channel and NVM Express are positioned these days. 48

COTS Journal | June 2015

System Development: System Development: Safety Critical and Mission-Critical Choices in Embedded Software

The fact that military system functionally is now mostly software based means that the burden of security and safety-critical operation falls squarely in the embedded software realm. Such software has to be certified to the safety-critical standard DO-178B and its imminent successor DO-178C. But while those efforts seem costly, they pale in comparison to the huge costs associated with correcting software defects once they’re deployed on an airborne system. This section compares the tools and techniques available to help system developers meet real-time and safety-critical needs..

Data Sheet: OpenVPX SBCs Roundup

The OpenVPX spec provides implementation details for VPX payload and switch modules, backplane topologies and chassis products. And most importantly, it provides specific profiles on all the key aspects of an OpenVPX so that users and product vendors now have a clear language defining which OpenVPX are compatible with one another. Over the past couple years, the number of new OpenVPX boards continues to ramp. This section updates readers on the progress of those implementations, and displays a sampling of the current crop of OpenVPX SBC products.

Cobalt ™ Product Family

• Modular design • Compact footprint • Based on Intel ® Core ™ i7 • Highly scalable

Dramatically Streamline Systems Development Small form factor design has become a powerful enabler in the modern military, allowing defense system developers to meet increasing requirements for a growing group of unmanned and portable systems. Going a step further rare today’s pre-validated small form factor systems that represent the next generation in these design, ensuring exibility and creating a trusted COTS platform that reduces development cycle and accelerates Proof-of-Concept (PoC) development.

Download the full series of Cobalt Whitepapers at

COTS Journal’s

MARCHING TO THE NUMBERS 2 3 0 P E R C E N T 2, 5 0 0 The percent increase in strike capacity enabled by addition of the Virginia Payload Module (VPM) to the Virginia-class submarines. The U.S. Navy has awarded General Dynamics Electric Boat a $6.5 million contract modification to support development of the VPMs. The VPM will comprise four large-diameter payload tubes in a new hull section to be inserted in Virginia-class submarines. The section will extended the hull by 70 to 80 feet and boost strike capacity while increasing the cost by less than 15 percent. This modification is part of an overall engineering contract supporting the Virginia Class Submarine Program.



Total value of contracts Lockheed Martin received from the U.S. Navy to produce Enhanced Laser Guided Training Rounds (ELGTR), a costeffective alternative to using operational laserguided bombs (LGB) during training. ELGTR emulates the flight characteristics of Paveway II laser-guided weapon systems and presents pilots with the same information they would see in an actual mission. The award represents the third order under the 2013 ELGTR contract. Lockheed Martin will deliver ELGTRs and associated technical data, as well as refurbish U.S. government shipping containers.

$1.8 Billion Revenue value that the worldwide glass cockpit displays for aerospace market will grow to by 2020. According to the new market research report, now available on ASDReports, “Glass Cockpit for Aerospace Market” the glass cockpit displays for aerospace market is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 2.2% in terms of value and 5.3% in terms of volume from 2014 to 2020. The report describes the market trends, drivers, and challenges with respect to the glass cockpit displays for aerospace market and forecasts the market till 2020.


COTS Journal | June 2015

Number of aircraft onto which Rockwell Collins has commitments from airlines to install its MultiScan ThreatTrack system. Displayed at the Paris Air Show for the first time earlier this month, the weather radar system provides unprecedented atmospheric threat assessment capabilities. It goes beyond hail and lightning prediction within a thunderstorm cell and alerts pilots to these significant threats adjacent to or above the cell. In addition, the new radar is the first in the industry to feature two levels of turbulence detection—severe and ride-quality—which more accurately informs flight crews of the type of turbulence in their path.

4.5 million pounds

Amount of cargo carried by two USMC-maintained K-MAX unmanned heavy-lift utility helicopters in Afghanistan over thirty-three months from 2011 to 2014. Kaman has announced that its Aerosystems division has resumed production of commercial K-MAX helicopters. The aircraft will be manufactured at Kaman’s Jacksonville, Florida and Bloomfield, Connecticut facilities and production and hiring for the program has already begun. The first new helicopter is expected to be delivered in early-2017.

Module and System-Level Solutions from Intel® and Freescale™ Single Board Computers


4th Gen Intel® Core™ i7-based 3U VPX SBC with XMC/PMC


Freescale QorIQ T4240-based 6U VPX SBC with dual XMC/PMC

Secure Ethernet Switches and IP Routers


Secure Gigabit Ethernet router XMC utilizing Cisco™ IOS®


3U VPX 10 Gigabit Ethernet managed switch and router

High-Performance FPGA and I/O Modules


Xilinx Virtex-7 FPGA-based XMC with high-throughput DAC

High-Capacity Power Supplies


3U VPX 300W power supply with EMI filtering for MIL-STD-704 & 1275

Rugged, SWaP-Optimized, COTS-Based Systems


Sub-½ ATR, 6x 3U VPX slot system with removable SSDs


SFF 2x 3U VPX system with removable SSD and integrated power supply


SFF Intel® Core™ i7 or Freescale QorIQ-based system with XMC/PMC

Extreme Engineering Solutions 608.833.1155

Designed, manufactured, and supported in the USA

»HIGH HIGH TEMPERATURE (M.501.4) - LOW TEMPERATURE (M.502.4) - TEMPERATURE SHOCK (M.503.4) - HUMIDITY (M.507.4) - SHOCK (M.516.5) - ACCELERATION (M.513.5) ALTITUDE (M.500.4) - VIVME, cPCI & VPX BRATION (M.514.5) - SALT FOG (M.509.4) - CE102 115V (10KHZ-10MHZ) CE102 28V (10KHZ-10MHZ) - CE101 115V (60HZ-10KHZ) - CE101 28V (60HZ-10KHZ) - CS101 (30HZ-10KHZ) CS101 (30HZ-150KHZ) - CS114 (10KHZ-400MHZ) - CS115 (IMPULSE EXCITATION) - CS116 (10 KHZ-100MHZ) - RE101 ROD NAVY FIXED & AF (30HZ-100KHZ) - RE102 ROD NAVY FIXED & AF (10KHZ-30GHZ) - RE102 ROD NAVY FIXED & AF (10KHZ-30MHZ) - RE1023 ROD NAVY FIXED & AF (2MHZ30MHZ) - RE102-3 BILOG NAVY FIXED & AF (30MHZ-1GHZ), H. - RE102-3 BILOG NAVY FIXED & AF (1GHZ-18GHZ), H. - RE102-3 BILOG NAVY FIXED & AF (30MHZ-1GHZ), V. - RE102-3 BILOG NAVY FIXED & AF (1GHZ-18GHZ), V. - RS101 (30HZ-100KHZ) - RS103 (2MHZ-18GHZ) HIGH TEMPERATURE (M.501.4) - LOW TEMPERATURE (M.502.4) - TEMPERATURE SHOCK (M.503.4) - HUMIDITY (M.507.4) - SHOCK (M.516.5)HIGH TEMPERATURE (M.501.4) - LOW TEMPERATURE (M.502.4) - TEMPERATURE SHOCK (M.503.4) - HUMIDITY (M.507.4) - SHOCK 5-SLOT 600W (M.516.5) - ACCELERATION (M.513.5) - ALTITUDE 7-SLOT 700W (M.500.4) - VIBRATION (M.514.5) - SALT FOG PAYLOAD POWER DISSIPATION (M.509.4) - CE102 115V (10KHZ-10MHZ) - CE102 28V (10KHZ-10MHZ) - CE101 115V (60HZ-10KHZ) 6U SEALED WITH SIX HEAT - CE101 28V (60HZ-10KHZ) - CS101 (30HZ-10KHZ) EXCHANGERS + 20 HEAT PIPES CS101 (30HZ-150KHZ) - CS114 (10KHZ-400MHZ) CS115 (IMPULSE EXCITATION) - CS116 (10 KHZ100MHZ) - RE101 ROD NAVY FIXED & AF (30HZ100KHZ) - RE102 ROD NAVY FIXED & AF (10KHZ-30GHZ) - RE102 ROD NAVY FIXED & AF (10KHZ-30MHZ - RE1023 ROD NAVY FIXED & AF (2MHZ-30MHZ) - RE102-3 BILOG NAVY FIXED & AF (30MHZ-1GHZ), H.



MILSTD810F & MI L-STD -461 F



3U up to 150W 6U up to 300W




CM Computer True Military COTS Products


COTS Journal  

June 2015

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