Board-Level Ethernet Switches Connect with Military Needs

Rugged Ethernet switch boards enable have become entrenched as solutions for both military networking and as an interconnect fabric in compute-intensive applications.


Long gone now are the days when the U.S. DoD was considering various different networking technologies. Today there’s no question that Ethernet has become the standard for connecting the IP-based components of autonomous vehicles, robots, and other military and harsh mobile applications. Ethernet switch boards are the linchpin needed to connect those systems. The large bandwidth and exceptional scalability of the 10 Gbit Ethernet network enables systems developers to seamlessly scale up with increasing channel count and bandwidth.

Aside from using 10 Gbit Ethernet for networking, the military has followed on to embrace it as a high-speed data transfer mechanism for demanding military sensor interfacing and processing. It offers a standards-based server solution that takes advantage of processing power gain and market pressures for driving down processing costs. A 10 Gbit Ethernet network simplifies system architecture and provides easy partitioning of data acquisition and data processing, by separating the sensitive analog mixed signal front end from the digital back end.

Even as a fabric choice, Ethernet has taken its place as favorite choice fabric in compute-intensive military applications like sonar, radar or any application that networks sensor arrays together. Ethernet offers nearly limitless synchronized scalability by simply adding fibers for additional 10 Gbit Ethernet links. Ethernet allows simplified acquisition devices to be placed near the antenna that pipes the data to processing platforms in a sheltered location. A 10 Gbit Ethernet system also handles real-time bandwidth in excess of GHz on a continuous and sustained basis.

As the round up on the next four pages show, Ethernet switches in form factors such as VPX and CompactPCI PICMG 2.16 serve as communications backbones for moving massive amounts of data around tightly coupled processing or I/O data concentrators, typically found in military, aerospace and spacecraft applications. Many operating at full wire speed, these non-blocking switches provide high-speed connectivity and traffic management for streaming video, audio and data. Note that this roundup is specifically on board-level Ethernet switch products. There’s a rich set of new products in the box-level Ethernet switch category but that falls outside the scope of this roundup.

An example of Ethernet being used by the military in embedded systems, is the Navy’s Ship to Shore Connector (SSC) craft. Last year North Atlantic Industries received a contract to provide the Data Acquisition Unit for the Ship to Shore Connector (SSC) (Figure 1). The SSC is the successor to the Navy’s extremely versatile Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) vehicle, which is nearing the end of its expected service life. NAI’s Sensor Interface Unit (SIU35) offers modularity and adds distributed interfaces over Ethernet for custom solutions using COTS products. As part of the Data Acquisition Unit (DAU) system, the SIU35 enables population of each board with function-specific modules. As part of NAI’s modular COSA architecture, a selection of up to 15 different functions can be selected from a broad assortment of low-power, high-density modules.

Figure 1 This graphical artist rendering shows the Ship to Shore Connector (SSC) (LCAC-100), the successor to the Navy’s Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) vehicle, which is nearing its expected service life.


The Ethernet Switch Boards Roundup and Links to the full data sheets for each product are posted below.

  Figure 1.

Figure 1 Abaco Systems

Fully Managed 3U VPX Rugged Ethernet Switch is VICTORY Compliant

Abaco Systems (formerly GE Intelligent Platforms) offers the rugged GBX411 supports 24 Gigabit Ethernet and four 10Gigabit Ethernet ports with multiple configuration options that enable it to adapt to the most demanding customer connectivity requirements for network switching. Built to be Abaco Systems Rugged and qualified to a number of MIL standards, the GBX411 is capable of delivering robust reliability in the most challenging harsh environments.

  • 3U VPX form factor.
  • Fully managed 3U VPX Layer 2/3 Ethernet switch.
  • Compliant with US Army’s VICTORY integration framework.
  • 12 or 24 ports with 1000BaseT, Gbit Ethernet; 10GBase-SR/LR/ER, 10GBaseKX4, 10GBaseKX.
  • Switch management environment provides integrated managed services including configuration, monitoring, switching control, addressing, routing and a wide range of networking protocols.

GBX411 Data Sheet:  Click Here Registration Required

Abaco Systems
Huntsville, AL
(866) 652-2226

  Figure 2

Figure 2 Acromag

10 Gbit Ethernet XMC Targets Real-Time Needs

Acromag’s XMC-6260 and XMC-6280 mezzanine modules provide a 10 Gbit Ethernet interface solution for data-intensive, real-time embedded computing systems. Ultra-high performance is achieved using a TCP/IP offload engine (TOE) ASIC connected to a PCI Express Gen2 x8 interface.

  • Dual XAUI 10GBASE-KX4 ports
  • Supports conduction-cooling or -40° to 85°C operation.
  • Four SFP+ ports for fiber or copper cables.
  • Chelsio T4 processor with four XGMAC (10GbE) interfaces and support for up to 1M connections.
  • Five gigabits of DDR3 memory enhances the number of virtual connections.
  • Full offload support for TCP, UDP, iSCSI and Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE).
  • Single-lane SFP+ interface
  • LVDS IO signaling between A/D, D/A and FPGA for low latency.

XMC-6260 Data Sheet:  Click Here

Wixom, MI.
(248) 295-0310

  Figure 3

Figure 3 Aitech

3U VPX Unmanaged GbE Switch Targets Harsh Environment Applications

Aitech’s C681 is a high-performance 3U VPX Unmanaged Gbit Ethernet Switch for embedded and harsh environment applications. Gbit Ethernet switching is performed by the Marvell Prestera 98DX106. The switch is unmanaged and does not require any user configuration. The C681 is available in factory configured variants which offer different Ethernet port configuration options.

  • Rugged 3U VPX Single-Slot Unmanaged Gigabit Ethernet Switch.
  • Multiple standard port configurations include: Up to 10 GbE ports; 1000Base-BX/KX and 1000Base-T Port Option; or Front Panel 1000Base-T Port in Air-Cooled Version.
  • Unmanaged, No User Configuration Required.
  • Full Wire-Speed Non-Blocking Forwarding.
  • Conduction and Air-Cooled Versions.
  • 2LM Option per VITA 48.2.
  • Vibration and Shock Resistant.

C681 Data Sheet:  Click Here    Registration required

Aitech Defense Systems
Chatsworth, CA
(888) 248-3248

  Figure 4

Figure 4 Curtiss Wright

3U VPX Rugged 10/40 Gbit Ethernet Switch Provides 320 Gbps Throughput

The VPX3-687 from Curtiss Wright Defense Solutions is a versatile and high-performance Ethernet switch designed to connect the next generation of 3U systems. Offering performance without compromises, the VPX3-687 provides switching throughput of up to 320 Gbps and full line-rate forwarding of up to 32 x 10 GbE or 8 x 40 GbE interfaces. Its non-blocking architecture is suitable for both low-latency control plane and high-throughput data plane applications.

  • Up to 32 x 10 GbE interfaces in a single VPX 3U slot.
  • Support for Gigabit, 10 Gbps and 40 Gbps backplane Ethernet standards.
  • Configurable for multiple OpenVPX switch module profiles, including 2F24U, 8F, 6F6U.
  • Fully-managed multi-layer switching services including multicast, QoS, and security features.
  • IEEE 1588 PTP transparent clock for high-precision system-level time synchronization.

VPX3-687 Data Sheet:  Click Here    Registration required

Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions
Ashburn, VA
(703) 779-7800

  Figure 5

Figure 5 Diamond Systems

26-Port Gigabit Ethernet Switch Targets Rugged Networked Applications

The Epsilon-24000 from Diamond Systems is a managed Layer 2+ Ethernet switch module offering up to 24 10/100/1000Mbps copper twisted pair ports and 2 small form factor pluggable (SFP) sockets in the compact PC/104 form factor. Epsilon-24000 is designed for rugged applications including industrial, on-vehicle and military.

  • 16 or 24 Gigabit Ethernet ports with non-blocking wire-speed performance.
  • 1 1G SFP socket; 1 2.5G SFP socket.
  • 8K MAC addresses and 4K VLANs (IEEE 802.1Q), as well as 8K IPv4 and IPv6 multicast group support.
  • Flexible link aggregation support based on Layer-2 through Layer-4 information (IEEE 802.3ad).
  • Multicast and broadcast storm control, as well as flooding control.
  • Multiple protocol support: IEEE 802.1d, IEEE 802.1w, IEEE 802.1s, and IEEE 802.1X.
  • Extremely rugged -40 to +85 degrees C operating temperature.
Epsilon-24000 Data Sheet:  Click Here

Diamond Systems
Mountain View, CA.
(650) 810-2500

  Figure 6

Figure 6 Extreme Engineering

6U VPX 10 Gbit Ethernet Switch Supports L2 Switching and L3 Routing Management

The XChange3100 from Extreme Engineering Solutions is a conduction- or air-cooled, 6U OpenVPX 10 Gbit Ethernet switch module. The board supports various configurations of up to twenty-two 10 Gbit Ethernet ports, twelve 10/100/1000BASE-T Ethernet ports, and eighty-eight 1000BASE-X Ethernet ports. The XChange3100 supports jumbo packets up to 12 kB, IPv6, Energy Efficient Ethernet (EEE), and a comprehensive set of IETF RFCs and IEEE protocols.

  • Three non-blocking, full wire-speed, Ethernet switches.
  • Layer 2 switching and Layer 3 routing management with extensive IEEE protocol and IETF RFC support (optional).
  • VICTORY Infrastructure Switch and Router support (optional).
  • Up to two rugged optical 10 Gbit Ethernet front panel ports; Up to twenty-two XAUI 10 Gbit Ethernet ports.
  • Up to two 10GBASE-T 10 Gbit Ethernet ports; Up to twelve 10/100/1000BASE-T Gigabit Ethernet ports; Up to eighty-eight 1000BASE-X SerDes Gbit Ethernet ports.

XChange3100 Data Sheet:  Click Here 

Extreme Engineering Solutions
Middleton, WI
(608) 833-1155

  Figure 7

Figure 7 Interface Concept

6U OpenVPX Card Combines 10/40 Gbit L3+ Ethernet Switch and IP Router

Interface Concept’s ComEth4510a is a combined Control and Data plane 10/40 Gbit switch compliant with the OpenVPX profile MOD6-SWH-16U16F-12.4.5-4. It is a combined Control and Data Plane switch for demanding 6U OpenVPX Ethernet architectures. The Ethernet packet processor is used for the Control Plane. The Data Plane is implemented thanks to the 2nd-Gen Marvell Prestera CX platform.

  • GigE / 10GigE Control Plane:
– 16 1000Base-KX (rear). – 4 10/100/1000Base-T (front). – 4 SFP+ (front).
  • 10Gb/40Gb Ethernet Data Plane:
– up to 48 10GBase-KR (rear). – 4 10GBase-T (front). – 4 SFP+ (front).
  • Configuration in 40GBase-KR4 or 10GBase-KX4.
  • Full managed L2; L3 Unicast/Multicast Engine.
  • Standard, Extended, Rugged and Conduction-Cooled grades.

ComEth4510a Data Sheet:  Click Here    Registration required

Interface Concept
Quimper, France.
+33 (0)2 98 57 30 30.

  Figure 8

Figure 8 Kontron

Fully managed Layer 2/3 Ethernet Switching on COM Express Card

Kontron’s ESC1600 / ESC2404 is a 1/10G non-blocking fully managed L2/L3 Ethernet Switching Core Module (ESC) is designed for individual Ethernet switching devices. It is ideally suited for harsh military and avionics applications, where longevity and reliability is needed. Based on the well-established and reliable COM Express compact form factor (95x95mm) Kontron’s switching module is the perfect basis for customized Ethernet switch board & system solutions.

  • Based on COM Express compact form factor (95x95mm).
  • Up to 24x1G ports plus 4x10G ports, command line and web management.
  • -40 to +85 degrees C surface temperature range, high shock and vibration robustness.
  • Single supply voltage 12 VDC.
  • Supports IPv4/IPv6 support including VLANs (802.1Q), Link Aggregation (802.3ad), Spanning Tree (802.1D, 802.1w),QoS(802.1p), Flow Control (802.3x), GVRP, GMRP.

ESC1600 / ESC2404 Data Sheet:  Click Here

Kontron America
Poway, CA
(858) 677-0877

  Figure 9

Figure 9 MEN Micro

3U cPCI Serial Ethernet Switch Leverages Features Fault Tolerance

MEN Micro’s G101 is a managed 3U flexible multiport Gigabit Ethernet switch, with a 29 Gbit/s switch matrix, implemented as a CompactPCI Serial board. Specifically designed for rugged mobile communication in harsh environments, the new Ethernet switch conforms to the EN 50155 railway standard. The switch is fault tolerant and restores itself on its own. If a link is temporarily unavailable, frames are sent via backup/redundant links avoiding any data loss.

  • Managed rugged Ethernet switch.
  • Up to 25 Gbit Ethernet ports on rear I/O.
  • Or 3 ports on front and up to 22 ports on rear.
  • 29 Gbit/s carrier grade switch matrix.
  • Special switch protocols.
  • -40 to +85 degrees C with qualified components.
  • EN 50155 class TX compliant (railways).
  • PICMG CPCI-S.0 CompactPCI Serial system slot and peripheral card.

G101 Data Sheet:  Click Here    Registration required

MEN Micro
Ambler, PA
(215) 542-9575

  Figure A

Figure A North Atlantic Industries

3U cPCI, Gbit Ethernet Switch Provides 12 Ports

The 75D4-H2 from North Atlantic Industries is a Layer 2+ Gigabit Ethernet Switch built upon NAI’s multi-function, 3U cPCI board technology. The 75D4 motherboard contains a high density I/O module slot that supports an H2 switch function.

  • 12-Port 10/100/1000Base-T,Layer 2, Switch.
  • Broadcom 53312S.
  • Rear I/O support.
  • Non-blocking Gigabit Ethernet fully integrated switch fabric with 4Mb packet buffer memory.
  • High-performance look-up engine with support for up to 8K unicast MAC address entries.
  • IPv4 and IPv6 traffic class support.
  • Up to 12 ports available for external Ethernet communication/connectivity.
  • 4 integrated RS232/422/423/485 serial ports.

75D4-H2 Data Sheet:  Click Here    Registration required

North Atlantic Industries
Bohemia, NY
(631) 567-1100

  Figure B

Figure B RTD Embedded

PCI/e104 Rugged 8-Port Ethernet Switch Boasts Scalable Design

The LAN35H08 from RTD Embedded Technologies provides a host module with eight switched ports and an Ethernet connection through the PCIe/104 bus to an optional host CPU. The switch expands in groups of eight simply by stacking expansion boards on the host.

  • Stacking expandable 1 Gbps Ethernet switch with 10-pin headers or RJ-45 jacks.
  • Eight ports per board, and expandable in groups of eight.
  • Compatible with the Cisco 5915 Embedded Services Router.
  • 40 to +85 degrees C standard operating temperature.
  • Stack switch connection does not use any of the eight ports.
  • Intel WG82574IT PCI Express Ethernet controller for interface to a host CPU.

LAN35H08 Data Sheet:  Click Here

RTD Embedded Technologies
State College, PA
(814) 234-8087

  Figure C

Figure C TTTech

Rugged 1 Gbit/s Deterministic Ethernet 6U VPX Switch Has 16 Ports

The TTE-Switch A664 6U VPX Rugged from TTTech is a high-performance Deterministic Ethernet switch capable of full-duplex speeds of 10/100/1000 Mbit/s targeted for flight critical applications. The switch is engineered to maintain operation in the harshest environments and weighs less than today’s ultra-light laptops. The solution is suitable for efficient SWaP reduction management at the network system level.

  • 16 x full-duplex Ethernet ports via rear I/O; 6 x 10/100/1000 Mbit/s; 10 x 10/100 Mbit/s.
  • Parallel support of copper & optical links.
  • Up to 32 Mbytes of memory (scalable).
  • 256 Mbit flash memory for storing switch configurations.
  • Fully ARINC 664 p7-compliant.
  • SNMP support, ARINC 615A/TFTP, health monitoring and BITs.
  • Filtering, policing, traffic prioritization and bandwidth control.

TTE Switch A664 6U VPX Rugged

Data Sheet:  Click Here    Registration required

TTTech North America
(978) 933-7979
Andover, MA