High-speed interconnect standards such as OpenVPX™ have proven an effective means of mixing and matching key functions to form a military electronics system. Since OpenVPX was founded in 2009, Kontron has been a stout supporter of the standard, recently unveiling its third generation of 3U OpenVPX single-board computers (SBCs) based on the Intel Core™ i7 microprocessors from Intel Corp.. Its models VX3042 and VX3044 are OpenVPX SBCs with native support for 10 Gigabit Ethernet and PCI Express 3.0; they are well suited for military and aerospace applications in terms of performance, power efficiency, and bandwidth.

OpenVPX, which uses multiple serial buses to achieve faster data rates than parallel-bus architectures, can support backplane speeds of 3.125, 5.0, or 6.250 Gb/s. It strives for compatibility with earlier standards, such as VITA 46, enabling modules from different manufacturers to work together. Because of the need for embedded processing in most military electronics systems, the SBC is one of the more popular function modules for implementation in the OpenVPX format.

The two 3U OpenVPX SBCs (see figure) use Intel Core i7 processors to provide more processing power and graphics capabilities than SBCs based on the earlier second-generation Inte Core processors. Model VX3042 is based on the 2.2-GHz dual-core i7-3517UE processor with configurable therapeutic area database (TDP), allowing power consumption to be controlled between 14 and 25 W. It is backed by as much as 16 GB soldered ECC DDR3 synchronous dynamic random-access memory (SDRAM) running at 1333 MHz and one XMC site. The XMC site can be customized with different input/output (I/O) and storage functionality, such as feeding up to 32 GB optional SATA NAND flash memory.

Model VX3044 incorporates a 2.1-GHz quad-core i7-3612QE processor with as much as 16-GB soldered ECC DDR3 SDRAM running at 1600 MHz. The SBCs include 8 MB Flash memory for bios data, 1 Mb of permanent ferroelectric random access memory (F-RAM) for permanent retention of key data, and a pair of 256-kb electronically erasable programmable read-only memories (EEPROMs)—one each for system and application data. Either SBC offers as much as 32 GB optional serial ATA (SATA) NAND Flash storage.

The SBCs, which are designed to meet emerging size, weight, and power (SWaP) requirements, feature PCI Express 3.0 to deliver twice the bandwidth of units with PCI Express 2.0. They also incorporate the firm’s VXFabric™ technology for Ethernet TCP/IP functionality over PCI Express as well as Kontron’s VXControl™ technology for monitoring and control of critical SBC performance parameters, to ensure high performance and reliability under the most severe operating conditions. “By offering the highest speeds in PCI Express and Gigabit Ethernet on the VPX market, Kontron’s 3U boards can offer the same bandwidth in half the size of existing solutions,” says Vincent Chuffart, Kontron’s Military Product Line Manager. “In a market where size and weight matter more each year, this product line is a real game changer.”

Both SBC models are compatible with multiple standards, including VPX VITA 46, OpenVPX VITA 65, and VPX REDI VITA 48. The computer cards boast generous connectivity choices, with multiple 10GBASE-KR, 1000BASE-T, and 1000BASE-BX Ethernet connections, eight lanes of gen3 PCIe to the backplane, one USB 3.0 port, and four USB 2.0 ports, along with the XMC site with x8 PCIe interface.

The SBCs are available in air- or conduction-cooled versions. They include three DisplayPort interfaces for graphics support, in addition to the integrated Intel HD Graphics 4000 functionality that can drive three independent monitors. Storage media can be connected via 2x SATA 3 and 2x SATA 2, both with RAID 0/1/5/10 support. The VX3042 and VX3044 SBCs are backed up by Kontron’s long term supply program with a 15-year life cycle. They are available as stand-alone cards or as part of a model ApexVX rugged computer system, the latter allowing for rapid deployment of military and avionics applications. Both SBCs are available with support for Windows Embedded Standard 7, Linux and VxWorks operating systems.

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