Managing the Increasing Bandwidth Requirements of Today’s Defense Applications

An extension of VME standards, VPX (VITA 46) was created to deliver more robust, high-speed performance for data-intensive, high bandwidth applications, including intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance applications such as radar, electronic warfare and electro-optical/infrared. In addition, VPX withstands greater mechanical stress and resists corrosion, making it the ideal solution for the challenges of military and aerospace applications.

Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions was a leading participant in the VITA (VME International Trade Association) working group that developed the VITA 46 standard. The group aimed to develop a platform for superior performance in data-intensive applications, including those of the defense and aerospace industries.

The VPX standard retains the 6U and 3U Eurocard form factors developed for the VME standard. In addition, it supports existing PCI Mezzanine Card (PMC) and XMC mezzanines. To ensure backward compatibility with legacy hardware, the specification includes provisions for 6U hybrid backplanes to accommodate VME64, VXS and VPX boards.

VPX answers the Department of Defense’s call for modular serial switched fabrics. It supports an array of fabrics, delivering speeds up to 10.3 Gbit/s. These switched fabrics include PCI Express, Serial RapidIO and 10 Gigabit Ethernet.

Because it is compatible with VME, VPX facilitates efficient upgrade to switched fabric technology for the sizeable existing base of VMEbus users, bringing them up to the task of supporting multiprocessing systems that demand the fastest possible communication capabilities.

Another advantage of VPX is its greatly increased total I/O capacity. VPX offers 160 high-speed differential pairs, each of which is nominally rated for a maximum of 10.3 Gbaud performance. Because of the high-speed signals, board and system designers must consider signal integrity analysis throughout the process of developing VPX products.

Complementary mechanical standards have been developed to further extend the advantages of VPX for rugged integrated systems. For instance, the VPX-REDI standard establishes alternate mechanical formats that provide enhanced capabilities beyond those of traditional IEEE 1101.1 and 1101.2 formats. The REDI standard improves thermal management to dissipate heat from embedded systems including conduction cooling, air cooling, air-flow through cooling, and liquid flow-through cooling.

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