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Latest embedded systems technologies for defense applications

April 7, 2020

The military relies on its massive defense budget to ensure it has access to the latest technologies that rely on embedded systems to function. Like any other platform in the military, those systems need to be rugged enough to handle operating in harsh environments while maintaining a level of stability without fail.

These often have different hardware standards over commercial offerings and need to adapt over time as applications continue to evolve. Below we will take a look at some of the latest embedded systems for defense applications that are designed to handle those extreme environments, and what they have to offer.

 Pixus Technologies’ new Version of the VPXD1000

Pixus Technologies has recently announced a new version of their VPXD1000 series chassis that now allows for various VITA 67 backplane slot configurations for RF interfaces over OpenVPX, for implementing high-speed/high-powered embedded systems. The enclosure allows users to partition for a separate segment for specialty RF devices or SOSA (Sensor Open Systems Architecture) applications.

The latest version of the VPXD1000 features a 63HP (12.6-inch) full size, which allows for higher slot count backplanes (up to 10X slots) at a 1.0-inch pitch. Moreover, designers can utilize one portion of the chassis for a smaller VITA 67 backplane over OpenVPX, as well as a separate segment for housing RF platforms or other devices. The chassis now has removable sidewalls for easy open-frame access, and airflow and cooling can be optimized based on the customers’ requirements.

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Abaco's NETernity GBX25 6U VME Ethernet Switch

Abaco Systems has released the NETernity GBX25 highly-flexible Layer 3 Managed 6U VME Ethernet Switch, which can handle almost any network configuration with 6U VME network support. The GBX25 allows for nearly all 6U VME Ethernet switch solutions to be integrated within a single platform, no matter if it's a front or rear (or both) facing I/O, copper, fiber, 1G or 10G. It also offers up to four 10G SFP+ modules, giving it the ability to aggregate multiple 1G channels together.

That 10G functionality allows the platform to be used as an aggregator of multiple video/sensor data streams that can be sent via one or more 10G uplinks to other systems, including data servers and mission computers.

The Dual I/O version of the NETernity GBX25 features up to 40 switched ports (24 rear VME ports/16 front panel ports) and offers a myriad of port types, including 10/100/1000BaseT, 100BaseFX, 10GBase-T, Front I/O: SFP+, 10GBase-SR, 10GBase-LR, and 1000Base-SX.

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Microchip’s Low-Power Radiation-Tolerant PolarFire FPGA

Microchip Technology has designed a new series of low-power radiation-tolerant FPGAs targeted at space applications, and are rugged enough to handle brutal launch processes and the harsh environment of space. The RT PolarFire FPGAs build on the company’s successful RTG4 series, and ranges from 100K logic elements (LEs) to 500K LEs, and features 12.7G transceivers while offering up to 50% lower power over competing mid-range FPGAs.

The PolarFire series features high-speed serial connectivity with built-in multi-gigabit/multi-protocol transceivers from 250Mbps to 12.7Gbps, up to 481K logic elements consisting of a four-input look-up table (LUT) with a fracture-able D-type flip-flop, and supports up to 1600Mbps DDR4, 1333Mbps DDR3L and 1333Mbps LPDDR3/DDR3 memories with integrated I/O gearing. The FPGA also packs up to 1480 18 x 18 multiply-accumulate blocks with hardened pre-adders and integrated dual PCIe for up to x4 Gen2 endpoint (EP) and root port (RP) designs.

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Thales Visionix NavChip Series 3 IMUs

Thales Visionix’s new NavChip Series 3 IMUs are designed to handle the rigors of aerospace navigation systems and other applications, including drone navigation, robotics, camera/antenna stabilization, AR/VR, aiming/alignment, and GPS/INS integration. The NavChip Series 3 has increased performance and accuracy in a critical parameter- bias in-run stability to 3°/hour (typical), and 5°/hour (max), which makes it more competitive for a broader range of applications over the +/- 16g operating range. A significant improvement over the previous series, which offered a bias in-run stability of 5°/hour (typical) and 10°/hour (max).

The NavChip Series 3 IMUs feature a full-scale acceleration range of +/- 16g and a full-scale angular rate of 2,000 degrees/sec and has an angular random walk of 0.18°/√hour, a velocity random walk of 0.03𝑚/𝑠/√hour and a hugely quiet acceleration noise performance of better than 83 μ𝑔/√𝐻z. [email protected]

ATP’s SLC-Based E800Pi e.MMC

ATP Electronics is set to launch the E800Pi e.MMC embedded multimedia chip, based on SLC (Single-Level Cell) flash that offers a very high endurance rating of 60K program/erase (P/E) cycles. The chip is designed for applications in harsh and rugged environments, providing ultra-high endurance and performance for rigid industrial requirements. The E800Pi has a wide-ranging temperature threshold and can handle temperature tolerances from -40°C to 85°C, and adheres to JEDEC e.MMC v4.41 standard, offering support for enhanced features, including Health Report, Field Firmware Update (FFU), and Fast Boot operation.

Performance features include Advanced Global Wear Leveling, Page Mode FW architecture technology, Dynamic Data Refresh and AutoRefresh to maintain data integrity and Early Retirement technology to prevent data loss from weak blocks. It also features SPOR (Sudden Power-Off Recovery), which backs up the firmware in the event of power loss.

As embedded technology continues to move forward for defense applications, the continuing trend among manufacturers to maintain breaks down into two categories- more exceptional capabilities, and a high degree of robustness to maintain reliability and functionality. One break in the system and the applications fails, so it will be interesting to see what the ever-evolving embedded platforms will emerge over the next year and into the future. 

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