You can never have too much bandwidth. High-speed processing and growing amounts of data to be communicated require generous bandwidth from the board level to the I/O. VPX, with a backplane connector system supporting 6.25 Gb/s in a switched fabric architecture, is the latest generation of VMEbus and offers new levels of performance for embedded computer systems. VPX systems are designed for flexible application of demanding highspeed protocols, such as 10G Ethernet, RapidIO, InfiniBand, and Hyper Transport protocols, in ground, aerospace, and marine applications.

altVPX is presently most widely used in defense applications, particularly for C4ISR (command, control, communications, computing, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance). Signal intelligence (SigInt), electronic intelligence (ElInt), radar, and similar processorintensive applications require a great deal of computing horsepower and bandwidth. VPX is a ruggedized approach to embedded computing that aims to satisfy high-speed processing needs in harsh environments such as flight, ground defense, and other military applications.

As a young, rapidly expanding ecosystem, VPX benefits from the global backing of both the computing and aerospace/ defense industries. This widespread backing has driven the standardization to move forward relatively efficiently, with many participants at the various levels of supply chain – components, subsystems and platforms. A key to the success of VPX has been the heavy reliance on commercial off-the-shelf products, fostering a wide international supplier base, shortening time to market, and further feeding the ecosystem’s evolution.

As the ecosystem matures, two initiatives are underway that will allow VPX to evolve into a wider range of applications, including:

1. Connectivity modules for standardized power, optics, and RF;

2. Small-form-factor systems proposed for the smallest of applications while emulating VPX.

New Connectivity Modules

Figure 2. The relative sizes of 6U and 3U VPX boards and emerging SFF boards.
The initial success and enthusiasm for VPX brought to light that there was still some work to be done for the architecture to realize its full potential. VITA 46 was the founding architecture specification for VPX. It specifies the MULTIGIG RT 2 backplane connector from TE Connectivity (TE), with a focus on digital signals. This left designers creating ad hoc approaches to other connectivity needs. To remedy the situation, a series of related specifications have been introduced to address complementary power (VITA 62), fiber optic (VITA 66) and RF (VITA 67) solutions within the VITA 46 framework.

To assure connectivity and interoperability on an architectural level, OpenVPX (VITA 65) has been established as the governing standard defining profiles for various configurations at the chassis, backplane, slot, and module levels. The ultimate goal is to enable the promise of open architecture by creating compatibility between products from different vendors. In addition, the standard promotes twolevel maintenance and system upgrades, allowing users to swap out line replaceable modules (LRMs) in the field.