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Rugged Box Systems Gain More Functionality and Performance

Date : 2016/07/12| Author : JEFF CHILD| Views : views

For decades the military embedded computing industry basically revolved around the single board computer as the defining product category. Other subsystem boards and product all revolved around working alongside the popular SBCs and their form factors. That's now changed to where rugged box-level systems are now equally significant to SBCs. That's in part because military system developers continue to seek out higher levels of system integration. That's put rugged box-levels systems in the limelight for military decision makers.

Even though the number of product offerings have grown over the last year, a smaller set of vendors provided most of these new systems. Three technology trends dominant the latest crop of rugged box systems. First, there's an ongoing push to greater levels of performance. Many of the system employ chips like the Intel Quad Core i7 Broadwell processor or the Xeon-D server-class processor. Second, there's an emerging trend of combining complete subsystem functionalities that go beyond basic mission computing roles. Networking router technology and HD video recording functionality are two examples along those lines. And finally, there's a basic move toward smaller, lighter more compact systems driving by the general desire to reduce size, weight and power (SWaP) in military platforms.

Another trend in box-level systems is one of terminology. Many vendors are applying to term High Performance Embedded Computing (HPEC) to their offerings. This gets confusing because there are several different conflicting definitions of what HPEC is supposed to mean. The mostly boil down to the theme of leveraging technologies like VPX and PCI Express to provide massive processing power for compute-intensive systems. They are designed to meet immense throughput and processing requirements in space-constrained systems handling more than a teraflop of data.

An example of today's box-systems technology in use is Octagon System's FLEET computers which were selected for deployment on several of the Navy's LPD 17 class of expeditionary warfare ships (Figure 1). The LPD 17 class is the U.S. Navy's newest generation of amphibious warfare ships. Octagon's product dependability will support the success of warfare missions. The LPD 17 ship class supports amphibious transport of assault forces of the United States Marine Corps. This class of ship is becoming the most sophisticated amphibious ship ever produced, offering unprecedented war fighting capabilities. Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems is the total ship electronics systems integrator for all LPD 17-class ships and prime contractor for lifecycle engineering and support of Raytheon-designed and developed equipment.

Figure 1

Open architecture box-level computers are well suited for LPD 17 class ship’s high-reliability requirements.

The open architecture FLEET computers are well suited for this program's high-reliability requirements, a feature proven through uncompromised performance. This recent order for the FLEET computer on LPD 25 is preceded by 104 initial fielding on the LPD 17 class in service ships. Fielding across the class will result in the eventual deployment of hundreds of Octagon computing platforms.


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