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Embedded vetronics (vehicle electronics) subsystems for rugged deployed ground vehicles have long benefited from the reduced risk, faster time to market, and long lifecycle support offered by COTS board vendors. Recent advances in open standards developments, namely the OpenVPX/VITA 65 specification that defines system-level interoperability profiles for VPX architecture boards and backplanes, promise to take the COTS model from the board to the subsystem level, enabling faster deployment of proven, standards-based fully integrated enclosures.

Modern military ground vehicles like this battle tank rely on embedded vetronics to control many of their subsystems.
The increasing functional density of today’s rugged, embedded single board computers (SBCs) and I/O boards is making it possible to integrate small form factor, cost effective solutions that can incorporate a wide variety of a ground vehicle’s vetronics functionality that previously would have required multiple, larger, boxes. Known as “LRU Consolidation,” this ability to recapture space, weight and power (SWaP) is enabling the inclusion of increased capabilities within SWaP constrained current ground force vehicles. Many of today’s vetronics subsystems can now be made smaller than the proverbial breadbox.

Advancing subsystem level interoperability is the key to taking these modern vetronics systems to the next level of lowered cost and faster time to market. Improving subsystem interoperability through flexible backplane configurations has long been a goal of COTS board and integrated systems Packaged COTS (PCOTS) vendors.

Long before the recent emergence of VPX as the higher bandwidth, more rugged heir to the VME bus architecture, board vendor and system architects strove for the flexibility that greater interoperability delivers. For example, Curtiss-Wright Controls developed variant versions of its 3U CompactPCI 124 and 1201 single board computers to enable full use of the card’s potential 64-bits of PMC I/O on non-system controller cards. Because the system controller 3U form factor card in Slot 1 is required to devote many of its limited I/O pins for system management, there would be a shortage of pins available to support the full PMC mezzanine card bandwidth. To increase flexibility and interoperability, Curtiss- Wright Controls developed PICMG 2.3 compliant variants of the 1201p and 124p SBCs. Identical with the originals in functionality, these peripheral- slotonly versions of the cards were stripped of all of the slot 1 card system management signals. This provided the needed pins to support 64-bit I/O routing from every PMC card in a system. In addition, the company developed the PICMG 2.3- compliant 201 PMC carrier card making it possible that every slot in the system, other than slot 1, could support a PMC card, and that the mezzanine card could reside on a PowerPC or x86-based SBC, or a PMC carrier card, which made the “mixing and matching” of a wide variety of cards within a PCOTS subsystem much simpler, and faster.