Bus & Board Conference Celebrates 25 Years

Paul Whytock spotlights some of the key participants at the show, staged in Long Beach, California.

This year’s Bus & Board conference coincided with the 25-year anniversary of VITA, the international association of companies supporting the VME open standard for modular embedded computing systems. According to VITA, VME technology has found its way into a myriad of products, ranging from missile systems and interplanetary exploration to semiconductor manufacturing equipment.

“No open architecture in the history of the embedded computer industry has grown and prospered for 25 years except VME,” said Ray Alderman, executive director of VITA. “Many other computing standards have come and gone because they no longer added value for the manufacturers and users of those technologies. VME continues to flourish worldwide because the specifications continually incorporate the newest technologies, thanks to the collective efforts of the members in the VITA Standards Organisation.”

VITA feels it sustains an ecosystem that strongly supports the standard launched in 1981 by Mostek, Motorola, Signetics/ Philips, and Thomson-CSF. In the launch, the four companies announced a 16/32bit parallel computing bus that was loosely based on the 68000 processor bus. The goal—a cooperatively developed, public-domain standard for embedded computing backed by an independent organisation to provide stewardship and strong promotion.

In 1983, 45 companies listed a total of 196 products in the first industry buyers’ directory. Now, more than 85 companies worldwide list thousands of products.

The VME technology roadmap is supported by activities (VXS and VPX) with switch fabrics in which the aggregate system bandwidth will exceed 100GB/s.

Playing the lead-free card

Concurrent Technologies announced its new lead-free, high-performance, Pentium M based, Advanced Mezzanine Card (AdvancedMC or AMC) processor module suitable for AdvancedTCA, MicroTCA, and proprietary platforms (see the figure). The PR AMC/33x, a single-width, fullheight AMC processor module, supports the 2.0GHz Intel Pentium M processor 760.

To enhance memory and I/O performance, the PR AMC/33x supports the Intel E7520 server chipset. The E7520 interfaces up to 2GB of soldered DDR2-400 ECC memory, providing a peak memory bandwidth of 3.2GB/s. To achieve a higher MTBF and improve cooling, all components are soldered (including the memory and processor).

The PR AMC/33x complies to AMC.0 (including full hot swap and IPMI capabilities), AMC.1 Type 8 (PCI Express x8), AMC.2 Type E2 (2x Gigabit Ethernet), and AMC.3 Type S2 (2x Serial ATA150 ports). The module also features two USB 2.0 ports, two RS-232 ports, and 1MB Application Flash.

CompactPCI SBC

The conference saw Curtiss- Wright Controls Embedded Computing introduce the SCP/DCP-124, a high-performance ruggedised 3U CompactPCI (cPCI) single-board computer (SBC). The SCP/DCP- 124, available in conductioncooled and air-cooled versions, delivers a complement of I/O in a compact 3U form factor.

Powered by Freescale’s 7447A/7448 PowerPC processor, the card simplifies the design of space- and weightconstrained COTS systems for military and aerospace applications. The SCP/DCP-124 is the latest addition to Curtiss-Wright’s CompactCore cPCI product family. The board’s 7448 PowerPC is supported with 1MB of internal ECC L2 Cache memory running at core processor speed and up to 512MB of DDR1 SDRAM with ECC.

The SCP/DCP-124 can function either as a system slot board (controlling up to 6 cPCI slots), or as a peripheral board, with autosensing provided to determine the mode of operation. Its cPCI bus operates at 33 or 66MHz, supporting both 3.3 and 5V signalling. System expansion is possible through the SCP/DCP-124’s on-board 64bit, 100MHz, PCI-Xcapable PMC site.

The company also introduced its VPX6-185, the industry’s first VITA 46 (VPX)-based SBC. The 6U VPX6-185 features a nominal backplane bandwidth of 8GB/s via four Advanced Switching Interconnect (ASI) ports, two PCI Express VITA 42 XMC/PMC sites, the processing power of Freescale’s 8641 single/ dual-core PowerPC processor, and a list of standard features (e.g., Gigabit Ethernet, serial ports, and mass storage interface options).

ATCA signalling blade

Artesyn Communication Products, a subsidiary of Artesyn Technologies, developed AdvancedTCA (ATCA) implementations of its SpiderWareSS7 signalling blade and SpiderWareSG signalling gateway. The new blade, which uses a common ATCA hardware platform, delivers twice the signalling density and line utilisation of competitive signaling and gateway blades.

SS7 (Common Channel Signaling System No.7) is a signaling protocol used to provide services such as call setup, teardown, routing, local number portability, and call forwarding in legacy public switched telephone networks. SIGTRAN (SIGnaling TRANsport) specifies a method for transporting SS7 signalling information over IPbased packet networks, which enhances efficiency and flexibility while reducing cost.

In addition, SIGTRAN makes the underlying transport mechanism transparent to the application code. As a result, service providers are able to use existing SS7 applications across either traditional TDM or IP transport infrastructure. SpiderWareSS7 supplies SS7 signaling channels across E1/T1 interfaces, making it easy to add SS7 signaling to ATCA-based network elements such as Signalling Transfer Points (STPs), Service Control Points (SCPs), Signalling Gateways, and Base Station Controllers (BSCs). Equipped with up to 32 T1/E1 spans, SpiderWareSS7 offers a total of 128 SS7 signaling channels with 100% line utilisation.

Tough SAN storage media

In an interesting development, VMETRO expanded its Fibre Channel Storage Area Network media offering to include JBOD (just a bunch of disks) disk arrays for use in harsh environments. These new storage subsystems demonstrate VMETRO’s approach to enabling highspeed, streaming, data-recording applications in all environments.

At less than one-tenth the cost of solid-state storage, the rugged SANbric and semi-rugged SANcab products offer affordable alternatives to flash-memory storage devices. Two levels of isolation from harsh environments are provided so that standard Fibre Channel disks can be used in numerous applications that were previously considered too harsh for rotating media devices.

The SANbric and SANcab storage subsystems are specifically designed for use in the harsh environments typically found in military aerospace intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance applications (e.g., ELINT, COMINT, SIGINT, SAR, MTI, SDR, and others). The SANbric, a removable rugged storage device with a 6-disk JBOD, is designed to tolerate high shock, vibration, altitude and temperature conditions.

Finally, Performance Technologies unveiled its 64bit AMD Opteron processor-based high-performance SBC. The CPC5564 is claimed as the first CompactPCI 2.16 compute blade based on 64bit, single- and dualcore AMD Opteron processors.

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