What's new at VITA: Hot specs include VPX, VITA 73/74/75 SFFs

March 01, 2013

What's new at VITA: Hot specs include VPX, VITA 73/74/75 SFFs

The VITA Standards Organization (VSO) takes aim at small form factors with a series of developing specifications.

2013 has been off to an exciting start at VITA, especially with the recent Embedded Tech Trends event and also progress that is being made on VPX and small form factor specifications.

Embedded Tech Trends

In January, many VITA members went onboard the Queen Mary in Long Beach, CA for Embedded Tech Trends 2013, where 15 leading companies of the embedded computing industry gathered with 13 editors and analysts. Industry thought leaders led discussions on a wide range of topics during the two-day event with the focus on “embedded computing technology in action.”

Topics covered during the event included analysts’ viewpoints of the industry; government research programs; solid-state drives; FPGA technology; Size, Weight, and Power (SWaP); test instrument architectures; High-Performance Embedded Computing (HPEC); signal and image processing; the Intel Intelligent Systems Framework (ISF); and embedded technologies in action. Each topic included presentations from the sponsors followed by questions from the media.

The liveliest debate of Embedded Tech Trends was during the presentation on the Intel ISF by RJ McLaren of Kontron. This new initiative from Intel defines a set of interoperable solutions designed to address connecting, managing, and securing devices in a consistent and scalable manner.

SWaP was a major topic of discussion as the suppliers struggle to optimize these parameters of computing systems while still delivering high performance. HPEC and signal processing presentations highlighted the advances being made that enable smaller and faster computing platforms. Suppliers are addressing both small form factor products on one end of the spectrum and HPEC computers using VPX and AdvancedTCA on the other end. With the switch fabric architectures used in the HPEC computers, it is amazing to see the levels of performance that can be delivered by today’s computing technology.

In general, the sponsors were cautiously optimistic about growth for 2013. Since government defense spending heavily influences the industry, they are closely monitoring the budget discussions around the world to see which direction spending will go. They all realize that at best, it will be slowed down. So there is an intense desire to seek out new applications for their technology.

All of the material presented at this year’s event is available on the VITA website (www.vita.com). This is a very intense two-day event that will be held next year as well, so be sure to put Embedded Tech Trends on the calendar for 2014 to stay on top of the latest trends in the industry.

Work in progress with the VSO

The VITA Standards Organization (VSO), the team responsible for developing and maintaining VITA technical specifications, has been very busy with several news projects. The work on VPX continues as the working groups make improvements to existing specifications and roll out new ones that add capability to the existing specifications. Mercury Systems and TE Connectivity have teamed to enhance the original MULTIGIG RT connector into a new version, MULTIGIG RT 2-R, that is intermateable with the original version but with a quad-redundant contact system that makes it more durable and reliable.

Work on various methods to incorporate optical interconnects into backplane technologies continues to move forward. VITA 66.2, Optical Interconnect on VPX, defines a family of blind mate fiber-optic interconnects for use with VPX backplanes and plug-in modules. Versions for MT variant connectors and ARINC 801 have been approved.

Several working groups dedicated to new small form factor systems and boards are busy finishing up their specifications. The VITA 73 Small Form Factor working group is awaiting feedback from customers who are evaluating VITA 73-based products. Products based on VITA 74 (Nano Small Form Factor) are also in evaluation while work nears completion on the specification. VITA 75 (Rugged Small Form Factor) went into trial use status late in 2012 to also gather feedback from potential customers.

A new working group has been established to explore the opportunities for standardization in the embedded photonics area. JEDEC and VITA are teaming for this effort since the work product overlaps the domains of each. This effort is going to be key in setting new standards for optical backplanes.

VITA is also involved in activities to enhance reliability prediction and certification standards as they relate to electronic modules. The Reliability Prediction Community is leading the efforts to improve the tools available to designers.

Many other projects are in process with various working groups. Visit the VITA website (www.vita.com) to learn more or to participate in developing the future.

Jerry Gipper is Director of Marketing at VITA and also serves as Editorial Director of VITA Technologies magazine (www.vita-technologies.com).