Designer Choices—Less Is More

Electronics designers like choice when it comes to selecting components, software, and industry standards. It provides the design opportunities that help them meet cost and performance parameters, application needs, project deadlines, and system compatibility requirements.

The problem comes when, despite the existence of industry standards, too many designer choices can create critical interoperability problems. This consideration was a central element in a recent product launch, as single-board computer (SBC) company Concurrent Technologies announced two low-cost, off-the-shelf, 3U OpenVPX development systems to complement its OpenVPX family of boards.

The SY VPX/3x3 systems speed the development of applications—by that, Concurrent means software development, board prototyping, and system performance testing prior to the commissioning of a fully ruggedized product. Each development system is a freestanding 3U VPX chassis with a backplane supporting a controller slot and two peripheral slots.

These freestanding development systems come preconfigured with either an Intel Atom or an Intel Core 2 Duo processor board, each with a x4 PCI Express fabric to the two peripheral slots. They provide three 3U slots and include two Concurrent Technologies boards, which leaves one slot for customers to configure. 

Each slot is 8HP (1.6 in.), which has the benefit of accommodating 0.8-, 0.85-, or 1.0-in. boards while simultaneously leaving access for test probes via the front of the chassis. The systems include a 250-W universal power supply and cooling. And, they’re compatible with the VITA 46 VPX and VITA 65 OpenVPX specifications.

Those specifications return us to the previously mentioned interoperability point. OpenVPX was created at the behest of the U.S. Department of Defense to improve system interoperability, particularly communications systems operating in a complex variety of military equipment within the same battle zones.

OpenVPX is a defined set of system implementations within the VPX standard. It clearly states a set of system architectures that provide a framework for interoperability between modules and backplanes. With it, system integrators can readily architect an application-specific system based on compatible OpenVPX profiles for modules, backplanes, and development chassis.

But OpenVPX does not replace VPX. OpenVPX is a system specification for VPX that provides a defined framework for interoperability between OpenVPX products. For example, OpenVPX takes advantage of the VPX dot specs for design areas like fabric protocols.

So, there are two primary differences between VPX and OpenVPX. First, OpenVPX builds on VPX dot specs, Second, it provides a defined framework for interoperability between OpenVPX products based on compatible OpenVPX profiles for modules, backplanes, and development chassis. Clearly, it enhances system interoperability.

“To become successful, bus systems need to be supported by a broad ecosystem,” said Jane Annear, sales and marketing director of Concurrent Technologies, summarising the company’s attitude toward OpenVPX.

In other words, bus systems need to be open and have lots of customers buying into them. This certainly has been the case with VME, which is why many industry experts see it working through to 2025.

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