Designing embedded computing systems for the aerospace and defense sectors is no easy feat. While these sectors are hungry to get their hands on more advanced processors and memory, the challenge lies in packing them into smaller, lighter, cheaper, and more power-efficient envelopes. They also need open hardware that gives them the flexibility they need—whether in the air, at sea, or on the ground—to adapt to changing demands. And ruggedness and reliability are essential to operate in harsh conditions.
In that context, industry players have turned to embedded computing systems that tap into a high-bandwidth, wafer-style connector system called VPX. VPX has become the de facto standard over the last decade for board and backplane systems. Widely used in military embedded computing, it’s now been adopted in many other industries where ruggedness is the top priority, including the industrial and transportation sectors.
VPX is a step up from the VITA standard that it replaced, called VME. It takes advantage of state-of-the-art switched fabric architectures, including Ethernet, Rapid IO, and InfiniBand, to keep pace with the latest data-transfer rates in the embedded computing market.
Though VPX isn’t faster than the traditional VME bus, it’s significantly more scalable, which is valuable in military applications that are adopting more heterogeneous compute architectures and, thus, require faster data rates than the pin-based connectors used by VME.
VPX fits in with the standards of the Sensor Open Systems Architecture (SOSA), a strategy being pursued by the U.S. Department of Defense to create a more modular open approach to systems engineering that can better adapt to new demands over time. It’s also opened the door for companies to choose from commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) products, including single-board computers (SBCs), I/O boards, graphics, switches, power-supply units, chassis, and backplanes, among others, giving them a more diverse pool of suppliers to choose from.
In this roundup, we will review some of the latest VPX-based boards and other products to hit the market.
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