Live OpenVPX system unveiled at Milcom

Open-standards approach offers greater flexibility, drives cost

The Defense Department has a new tool in its arsenal to lower technology costs and improve ease of upgrades, OpenVPX technology.

Demonstrated at the Milcom 2009 Conference, the first live OpenVPX system is a response to the DOD’s mandate to improve implementation of open standards and interoperability. This open-standard technology gives the DOD and other government agencies more flexibility and greater choices, lower costs, and reduced time system concept and design verification,

Also this week V1.0 OpenVPX system specifications were announced by Mercury Computer Systems, founder of the OpenVPX Industry Working Group, an alliance of 28 defense prime contractors and embedded computing systems suppliers. These standards are expected to be ratified by the VMEbus International Trade Association, the open-technology standards organization for real-time, modular embedded computer systems.

OpenVPX addresses interoperability concerns associated with the VPX (formerly VITA 46) family of American National Standards Institute specifications. The VPX standard was developed to define a new generation of computing systems using high-performance switch fabrics over a high-speed connector, as well as operating in harsh environments. The standard was designed specifically with defense applications in mind.

The new OpenVPX system features an OpenVPX backplane in a Hybricon SFF-4 Small Form Factor conduction-cooled chassis integrated with Curtiss-Wright Controls' small form factor 3U OpenVPX-compliant cards, including single board computers, expansion carrier cards and graphics controller OpenVPX-compliant boards.

The initial SFF-4 product is designed to support input/output for airborne and ground vehicle control applications, supporting I/O for Ethernet, serial, video, and 1553 or CANBUS. Different I/O complements can be supported with a different backplane.

Hybricon Corporation's SFF-4 chassis is designed for rugged environments for airborne and ground mobile applications, specifically for use in MIL-STD-704F aircraft and MIL-STD-1275B vehicles. Curtiss-Wright Controls Embedded Computing’s off-the-shelf boards and systems are also rugged. Both Curtiss-Wright and Hybricon are members of OpenVPX.

While VPX specifications have been focused at the board level, there is also a need for considering system-level requirements to improve interoperability and reduce customization, testing, cost and risk.

The Defense Information Systems Agency has been pushing for greater use of open source within the department.

About the Author

Kathleen Hickey is a freelance writer for GCN.

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