JEFF’S PICKS: 3 GHz Kaby Lake-Based VME SBC Boasts 64 GB of DRAM and Rich I/O

Jeff Child, Editor-in-Chief

Because many military applications are hungry for the most compute performance available, single board computer (SBC) vendors continue to design their high-end lines of SBCs around the latest and greatest microprocessors available. And unlike 15 years ago, those processors tend to show up on embedded SBCs with practically no delay. To judge the High-Performance end of SBCs requires at least a nod toward the term High Performance Embedded Computing (HPEC). HPEC gets a little fuzzy because vendors still tend to all define it differently. Whether it means highly dense arrays of GPGPUs—or as data-center levels of computing based on server-class Xeon processors and all their support electronics—they all are meeting the military’s ongoing demand for greater computing muscle and compute density.

This month’s Jeff’s Pick section looks at High Performance SBCs. Because OpenVPX is considered the leading edge open architecture for defense application, it’s not surprising that most of the contenders this month are OpenVPX boards. All that said, the winner is an VME SBC—a fact which exemplifies the defense industry’s continued reliance on VME for technology upgrade programs. For this Editor’s Pick section COTS Journal evaluated several such products on three aspects: technology leadership, design innovation and market relevance.

Figure 1. Jeff’s Pick is the VME120 from General Micro Systems, a 6U VME SBC a 3.0 GHz Core i7 Kaby Lake CPU (Xeon E3). It also features includes 64 Gbytes of DDR4 with ECC and an interconnect system for expanding mezzanine I/O.

This month’s Pick is the VME120 from General Micro Systems (Figure 1). The SBC is the company’s ninth-generation 6U VME SBC module based on GMS’s upgradable CPU “computing engine” technology. According to GMS, the product is perfect for defense programs that designed in VME and can’t easily requalify or afford a complete redesign to VPX. But adding “more” to VME is still desirable, and that’s the key benefit of the GMS VME120. It is a multi-optioned version of a well-proven GMS VME board designed into countless U.S. Navy platforms. It gets its “high performance” distinction from its Intel 7th Generation Core i7 Kaby Lake CPU (Xeon E3). It clocks at 3.0 GHz (Turbo Boost 2.0 up to 4.1 GHz), has 4 cores and supports 8 virtual machines. Kaby Lake boasts an embedded graphics engine, HD Graphics P630 with GT2, H.265 CODEC. Memory includes 64 Gbytes of DDR4 with ECC—double what most SBCs provide.

Rich I/O and Expansion Options

The board can be equipped with 3- or 5-row VME connectors, and all of the board’s I/O can be routed off the front panel or to an optional P0 connector (if not on P2). Standard I/O includes 2x 10GigE, 2x 1GigE with TOE designed for VITA 31.1, 7x USB 2.0/3.0, GPIO and so on. But that’s all enhanced by an inter-board connector that mates to a second VME mezzanine board adding three more add-in I/O mezzanine cards and additional I/O. Called the VME120-WSIO (“workstation I/O”), the WSIO adds 3x PMC modules, or 1x XMC and 2x PMC. Designers can also add 1x MXM module—a popular format for add-in GPU or GPGPU cards.

The product scores high in market relevance because it directly feeds a very important requirement: The need for older programs to be brought up to leading-edge technology. It does this by combining Intel’s very latest and very best workstation processor Xeon E3 has been added, plus a rich array of high- and low-speed I/O including multiple 10GigE ports.

General Micro Systems
Rancho Cucamonga, CA
(909) 980-4863


…And the Runners Up:

3U OpenVPX Module Marries Xeon-D and FPGA Processing

Mercury Systems’ OpenVPX Ensemble LDS3506 processing module seamlessly integrates the Intel Xeon processor D system-on-a-chip (SoC) product family (formerly codenamed “Broadwell DE”) with Xilinx’s powerful Ultrascale FPGA in a SWaP-constrained 3U package (Figure 2). This dense union of best available commercial-item general processing and FPGA resources produces a highly versatile, affordable and interoperable building block for embedded, high-performance computing applications with additional low-latency mission or secure processing requirements.

Figure 2. The Ensemble LDS3506 processing module integrates the Intel Xeon processor D SoC product family with an Ultrascale FPGA in a SWaP-constrained 3U OpenVPX package.

With over 256 peak GFLOPS of general processing power from the Intel processor alone, the board is suited for applications such as electronic warfare (EW), electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR), image intelligence (IMINT) and other mission or sensor processing applications. The LDS3506 provides x4 Gen3 PCIe connectivity across the data plane via Xilinx’s FPGA device, with multiple DMA-enabled non-transparent bridge (NTB) interfaces, giving users the versatility needed to construct powerful processing subsystems quickly. The module’s latest Xilinx FPGA hosts Mercury’s Protocol Offload Engine Technology (POET) to give each module the ability to refresh its mission capability, provide information assurance abilities, or even refresh or upgrade its switch fabric itself without affecting any hardware.

Mercury Systems
Chelmsford, MA
(978) 967-1401


3U OpenVPX Xeon E3-1505M V6 SBC Features Anti-Tamper and IA Support

The SBC329 from Abaco Systems is a rugged 3U OpenVPX SBC designed as a straightforward, cost-effective ‘drop in’ technology insertion opportunity for existing users of Abaco’s mission ready systems (Figure 3). It offers a 10 percent performance improvement over its predecessors. This is the third SBC from Abaco to feature the latest 7th generation Intel Core technology (codenamed “Kaby Lake”). The SBC329 is configurable with the Intel Xeon E3-1505M V6 processor operating at 3.0 GHz. For applications prioritizing minimal power consumption/heat dissipation, the Intel Xeon E3-1505L operating at 2.2 GHz is available.

Figure 3. The SBC329 is a rugged 3U OpenVPX SBC with the Intel Xeon E3-1505M V6 processor operating at 3.0 GHz.

The SBC329 provides enhanced support for customers planning to implement advanced security capabilities such as anti-tamper and information assurance. This includes an inherently secure FPGA solution, and support for Intel’s Trusted Execution Technology. It also benefits from its support for Abaco’s AXIS Advanced Multiprocessor Integrated Software development environment. AXIS enables the rapid creation and testing of sophisticated HPEC applications. The SBC329 supports a comprehensive range of onboard I/O features. It also offers an on-board mezzanine expansion site for enhanced system flexibility. Memory resources include 16 Gbytes of DDR4 SDRAM, up to 32 Gbytes of NAND Flash (SSD), 32 Mbytes of BIOS flash and 16 Mbytes BIOS backup flash.

Abaco Systems
Huntsville, AL
(866) 652-2226


Check Out These High-Performance SBC Products Too…

Aitech Defense Systems offers the C535 Typhoon. It’s based on Jetson TX1 SoM, which combines a powerful ARM Quad-Core CPU with the advanced NVIDIA Maxwell GPU. The 3U VPX board provides 60 GLFOPS/W performance.
Aitech Defense Systems, Chatsworth, CA. (888) 248-3248.

The AM G6x/msd from Concurrent Technologies is a double AdvancedMC module based on the latest generation of Intel Xeon processor E3 v6 family. The board is suitable for high-speed physics experiments, instrumentation and test based applications.
Concurrent Technologies, Woburn, MA. (781) 933-5900.

Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions is updating it rugged modules, the 3U OpenVPX VPX3-1220 and XMC-121 XMC processor mezzanine card to feature Intel’s latest low-power EL-1505L v6 Xeon processor in the same low-power 25 Watt footprint as the earlier Xeon SBCs.
Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions, Ashburn, VA. (703) 779-7800.

The XPedite7674 from Extreme Engineering is an Intel Xeon D-1500 family processor-based 3U VPX SBC that can support up to 16 core-count SKUs with native extended temperature support on up to 12 core-count SKUs.
Extreme Engineering Solutions, Middleton, WI. (608) 833-1155.

Interface Concept’s IC-INT-VPX3d/e is an OpenVPX 3U SBC based on the Xeon-D Broadwell-DE processor. It also provides a Kintex-7 FPGA, 2 banks of DDR4 DRAM with ECC (up to 8 Gbytes per bank) and a SATA NAND SSD (up to 16 Gbytes).
Interface Concept, Quimper, France. +33 (0)2 98 57 30 30.

The VX3058 from Kontron is a 3U VPX blade is based on the highly integrated 8-core Intel Xeon D architecture, supporting Dual 10 Gbit Ethernet, high bandwidth PCI Express 3.0, and high speed DDR4 memory.
Kontron America, Poway, CA. (858) 677-0877.