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Spec covers high-speed signaling boards

Posted: 01 Mar 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:david lammers? ee times? signaling board? working standard? high-speed signaling board?

The VMEbus International Trade Association (vita) has approved a working standard for a ruggedized board and connector format that will support high-speed signaling standards, including pci express, Serial RapidIO, Infiniband and Advanced Switching Interconnect. At the recent Bus&Board conference, several vendors said they are readying board-level products that will support the VITA 46 or VPX standard!either in the full 6U board size or the more compact 3U format.

VITA 46 boards "are supercomputer-type architectures, with lots of processing power and the kinds of bandwidth needed in sonar and radar systems, for example," said Ray Alderman, executive director of VITA. "But some medical systems can afford the extra cost of these ruggedized boards as well."

John Wemekamp, CTO at the embedded-computing division of Curtiss-Wright Controls, said that VPX/VITA 46 fills an important need in the military-aerospace market, which has lacked a ruggedized board standard that could handle a large number of channels of high-speed signaling required for sonar, radar and command-and-control functions.

VPX can handle 10GBps of total bandwidth. The 6U boards include 272 pins, plus 64 pins for the fabric and support 12V and 48V power supplies, with total power at up to 384W for 12V boards and 768W for 48V boards.

Other companies planning VITA 46 products include Mercury Computer Systems Inc., Radstone Embedded Computing and Micro Memory LLC. At the show, Curtiss-Wright launched a DSP engine!the Champ-AV6!that will combine four Freescale Semiconductor Altivec-enabled 8641 PowerPC processors with the serial switched fabric, aimed at handling signal processing in military sensor systems.

Richard Jaenicke, director of product management at Mercury, said the VPX boards use a connector, developed by Tyco Electronics that supports 192 differential pairs on a single card. The boards accept seven-row connectors, giving more room for compute cards. For durability in harsh military environments, the connectors were modified with thicker layers of gold, he said.

VPX, the marketing name for the VITA 46 standard, supports backward-compatibility with the legacy parallel VME bus. "VPX offers lots of high-speed I/O on the backplane, for I/O, processors and FPGA-to-FPGA connections. It will replace some of the proprietary designs used in defense systems that were developed because they did not have enough high-speed I/O for tactical defense systems," Jaenicke said.

He said a few products based on VPX will be available by year's end, with a "whole host of products" due next year. Applications include surveillance, image processing, software-defined radio and radar, he said.

"VITA 46 is the long-term solution for high-speed signaling," said Robert Jadon, a sales manager at Micro Memory. With it and VITA 48!a new standard for grounding strips that allows boards to be safely pulled from an airplane, for example, and quickly replaced right at the flight line!"we can at least double the total bandwidth and use liquid cooling in a harsh environment," Jadon said.

- David Lammers
EE Times

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