Electronics & Computers

Adapting ATCA Technology to Mil/Aero Applications

The military’s transition to Network-Centric Warfare (NCW) has created an enormous demand for improved networking and performance capabilities for ground mobile command and control applications. Military success now depends on the ability to communicate actionable information among command centers, troops in the field, UAVs and other military assets. Although new technologies are continually being developed to meet military demands, this transition to NCW has created new uses for existing technologies, a few of which have been used for many years in the commercial realm before making the move into military applications.

Posted in: Articles, RFM Catchall, Articles, Electronics & Computers, Telecommunications, Defense industry, Military vehicles and equipment, Unmanned aerial vehicles

The Evolution of CompactPCI From Parallel to Serial I/O

The true worth of an industry standard is measured in its ability to stand the test of time. From the onset, the system configuration, hardware components, and integration strategy all need to be built upon the inherent principles of flexibility, modernization, and efficiency.

Posted in: Articles, Articles, Electronics & Computers, Architecture, Computer software / hardware, Technical reference

Applying OpenVPX to Single Board Computers

For more than two decades, single board computers (SBCs) built on open standards have been largely based on specifications from two preeminent industry organizations, VITA and PICMG. For the 6U Eurocard format, each organization has developed a platform that has provided the basis for standardized SBCs; where VITA introduced the VMEbus standard and derivatives, PICMG introduced CompactPCI bus and its derivatives. Both bus structures use a parallel bus architecture, which has its performance limitations, hence the recent movement to use fabric-based technologies.

Posted in: Articles, Articles, Board-Level Electronics, Electronics & Computers, Architecture, Computer software / hardware

Using Static Analysis and Code Verification to Improve Embedded Software

Modern software development and test processes encompass a wide range of best practices and development methodologies. Personal preferences and lessons learned — both good and bad — dictate most workflows. Customized tools and scripts are frequently cobbled together with internal and external automation tools. However, at the core there are a set of proven development and test methods that enable deployment of high quality software with, ideally, no defects. Adherence to coding standards, performing software verification early in the development process, checking against an established set of quality metrics, and identifying software operations that are known good or known to contain faulty code will bring quality and consistency to critical embedded software.

Posted in: Articles, Articles, Electronics & Computers, Embedded software, Quality assurance, Test procedures

Stackable Computer Architecture Moves to 3rd Generation

Change is a concept that is well known in the computer industry. Designers and manufacturers alike have embraced this trend in an ongoing race to increase computing power while reducing size, weight, and power and cost (SWaPaC). With the latest round of ultra-low power processors from Intel, VIA, AMD and DMP, stackable computer systems need to adapt as well, especially with respect to I/O, while striking a balance between new and legacy technology.

Posted in: Articles, Articles, Electronics & Computers, Architecture, Computer software / hardware, Product development

Small Form Factor Computing in OpenVPX

The new OpenVPX™ (VITA 65) standard helps military system designers build compatible embedded systems by defining “profiles” to which vendors can adhere when designing boards, and system integrators can use to locate available COTS solutions. The market is seeing a proliferation of 6U VPX boards, which have numerous interconnect pins and are able to support many more simultaneous external connections with a single profile. In comparison, 3U VPX boards have fewer interconnect pins available, resulting in a far wider fragmentation of profile support, since vendors can support fewer external connections with a single 3U card profile. That makes it all the more important for designers of small form factor VPX systems to understand how to effectively use OpenVPX profiles.

Posted in: Articles, Articles, Electronics & Computers, Architecture, Communication protocols, Embedded software, Switches, Defense industry

Using FPGAs to Improve x86 Processor I/O Flexibility

By offering the ability to update application functionality, provide a reconfigurable solution and enable easy design customization, Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) technology has long been known as a cost-effective design resource. Similarly, x86 processor architectures share many of the same extended ecosystem, installed base, and multi-functionality benefits as FPGAs.

Posted in: Articles, Articles, Embedded Technology, Board-Level Electronics, Electronics & Computers, Architecture, Computer software / hardware, Integrated circuits

Multicore Tools for Embedded Systems — Staying Ahead of the Game —

Building a multicore system means dealing with non-determinism. Interactions between tasks running on different cores can occur in a different order, and at a different rate from one run to the next. This makes it harder to reproduce, find, and fix bugs. It also lowers the probability that validations and QA have caught all problems.

Posted in: Articles, Articles, Electronics & Computers, Architecture, Computer software / hardware, Embedded software, Quality assurance

Redesigning COTS Servers for Military Applications

Military and ISR operations are inundated with vast amounts of data collected from an expanding network of sources, including sensor data from UAS, satellites, and remote monitoring stations. Critical information must be processed quickly and reliably, and delivered in real time to command centers and forces on the battlefield. Processing this plethora of information requires a multitude of computers, many of which are outdated or on proprietary platforms. To remain sustainable, systems used for enterprise computing, field operations, warfighting, and command and control, must be continually upgraded or replaced. Many of these systems need to be integrated, consolidated, and securely linked to multiple networks.

Posted in: Articles, Articles, Electronics & Computers, Computer software / hardware, Data acquisition and handling, Data exchange, Data management, Defense industry

When the Going Gets Tough...

The theaters of operation for marine, air and land vehicles continue to redefine the term “rugged environment.” No longer bound by on-board human operators, autonomous and unmanned military vehicles are now free to operate within unparalleled temperature, vibration and shock regimes. The limitation on survivability of such vehicles is defined primarily by the robustness of their internal electronics. To meet these challenges, suppliers of hardened electronic systems must employ various ruggedization techniques.

Posted in: Articles, Articles, Electronics & Computers, Electronic equipment, Vibration, Durability, Autonomous vehicles, Marine vehicles and equipment, Military vehicles and equipment, Off-highway vehicles and equipment