Advantages of VITA Standards in SBCs

September 29, 2014 | BY: Mike Slonosky

Today's embedded computing systems, with single board computers (SBCs) at their core, are built on the open architecture standards that continue to be developed by the VITA Standards Organization.

Even as new VITA standards in SBCs are developed, to keep pace with advancing computer technology, VITA's original VME standard remains relevant and still offers advantages for certain applications today. Similarly, newer standards, such as VPX and OpenVPX, have their place in the realm of high-performance embedded systems.

VPX (VITA 46) and OpenVPX (VITA 65) greatly exceed the performance capabilities of VME - but not all applications require the robust processing and speed of VPX. In many cases, VME delivers the necessary functionality.

For instance, VME in SBCs delivers functionality well-suited to real-time applications such as controlling weapons system motors and actuators. Another advantage of the VME standard in SBCs: It supports legacy systems, extending the lifecycle of military systems in the midst of budgetary constraints that limit upgrades to new platforms. More than 400 military programs continue to use VMEbus.

VME also simplifies system configuration, as all VME64x slots are designed with the same pinout for the VMEbus. Pinouts vary from one OpenVPX backplane to the next and must be selected based on application.

Compared to OpenVPX, VME64x modules consume relatively little power. This means thermal management is a minor consideration for VME as it has a relatively low cooling demand. In contrast, OpenVPX can consume two to three times as much power.

The advantage of VPX and OpenVPX VITA standards in SBCs is their capacity for data-intense, high-bandwidth applications such as intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance applications. However, with these platforms' increased complexity and higher power demand comes the need for system developers to pay greater attention to signal integrity to assure optimal performance and prevent high bit error rates.

VPX, which is compatible with VME, supports cost-efficient and effective upgrade of VME platform systems to switched fabric technology for multiprocessing performance. VPX also offers system developers the advantage of greatly increased I/O capacity, with 160 high-speed differential pairs, each nominally rated for a maximum of 6.25 Gbaud performance.

And OpenVPX, as the first system-level VPX specification created to support interoperability of multi-vendor system components, is taking development of open architecture solutions to new heights.

Author’s Biography

Mike Slonosky

Senior Product Manager, Power Architecture and Arm SBCs

Michael Slonosky is the Product Manager for Power Architecture Single Board Computers in the C4 Solutions group at Curtiss-Wright. He has been with Curtiss-Wright for 13 years after spending over 20 years in the telecom industry. Mike is a graduate of the University of Manitoba with a Masters of Science in Electrical Engineering.

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