Cots Journal | Intelligent Systems Source

COTS Journal

 

The editors and staff of COTS Journal are dedicated to providing the industry with the best quality technical material to help readers design and build embedded computers for the military – whether for benign applications or for the most rugged, mission-critical jobs the battlefield, sky or water can offer.

What differentiates COTS Journal from the rest of the pack – aside from its unique posture as the only technology publication addressing the military market – is the quality of its editorial staff. These seasoned veterans of computer, defense and publishing industries not only go the extra mile to provide the most up-to-date information in an easily readable form, but they themselves participate in the industry and are widely sought after to provide technology, market and trend briefings to the industry and government sectors.

COTS Products | April 2017

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COTS Products | April 2017

 

Intel Atom E38xx-based EBX SBC Provides Extended Capabilities

Versalogic has announced the “Viper”, an EBX format, fanless SBC with a choice of performance level; single, dual-, and quad-core models. Compare with the “Montevina” Core 2 Duo processor, the Intel Atom E38xx-based quad-core unit can deliver twice the performance with overall power consumption of 6 watts (typical), one-third less. Two levels of security are provided. The on-board Trusted Platform Module (TPM) security chip prevents unauthorized access and the built-in AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) processor instructions adds additional protection. The target market includes defense, medical and industrial control requires protection against cyberattacks.

On-board I/O ports include a USB 3.0 port, six USB 2.0 ports, two 10/100 Ethernet, four serial ports, thirty-two digital I/O lines, eight 12-bit analog inputs and four 12-bit analog outputs. Additionally, the Dual SATA interfaces support high-capacity rotating or solid-state drives. Intel’s gen 7 HD graphic processor supports two simultaneous 1080p video streams, encoding and decoding of H.264, MVC, VP8, VC1/WMV9 and other standards. Furthermore, it supports dual display support, DirectX 11, Open GL 4.0 and full HD video playback with resolution up to 2560 x 1600 at 60Hz. Video interfaces include the mini DisplayPort++ outputs, VGA and a single/dual-channel LVDS display outputs.

The unit can be expanded via its dual Mini PCIe sockets for plug-in Wi-Fi modems, GPS receivers, other mini cards (MIL-STD-1553, Ethernet, and Analog) and a microSD socket for solid-state drive (SSD). The Viper is designed for rugged applications with temperature ranges from -40 to +85 degrees C. It meets [...]

By |April 20th, 2017|Articles, COTS Journal, COTS Products|Comments Off on COTS Products | April 2017|

I’m Big on Better Buying

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I’m Big on Better Buying

Jeff Child, Editor-in-Chief

On “normal” years the DoD has consistently released its Budget Proposal for the next fiscal year in February, but this year the next fiscal year proposal isn’t expected until May. To be fair, when there’s been a change in Administrations such delays are not uncommon. As we look ahead, it’s interesting to take a look at the DoD’s spending and efficiency performance over the past year.

Along just those lines, the GAO recently released its annual “Quick Look” report across the DoD’s weapons programs. The DoD is investing more than $1.4 trillion to acquire 78 major weapon systems—including aircraft, ships, and ground vehicles. The GAO found that the Department had made strides to address past inefficiencies. Certain programs, for example, increased their buying power by $10.7 billion. “Buying power” means more can be purchased for the same level of funding. All that said, the DoD, according to the report is missing key opportunities to reduce cost by increasing competition. The report also cited how most weapon programs it assessed are not yet fully following knowledge-based best practices—increasing risk for cost increases and delays.

Since the GAO’s 2016 assessment, the number of programs in the DoD portfolio of major defense acquisitions decreased from 79 to 78, while DoD’s planned investment over the life of these programs increased by $9.4 billion to $1.46 trillion. That included mixed performance in the portfolio this year. While the current portfolio has incurred $484 billion in total cost growth, $476 billion of this occurred 5 or more years ago suggesting that recent performance has improved.

Interestingly, 60 percent of the total cost growth occurred after [...]

By |April 20th, 2017|Articles, COTS Journal, Editorial, Editorial_cotsjournal|Comments Off on I’m Big on Better Buying|

The Inside Track | April 2017

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The Inside Track | April 2017

 

Navy Contracts Textron Systems for Two Common Unmanned Surface Vehicles

Textron Systems Unmanned Systems has announced today that it has received a $14.8 million contract to provide two additional fourth-generation CUSV vehicles for the U.S. Navy’s Unmanned Influence Sweep System (UISS) program. The U.S. Navy intends to use these two CUSV systems as part of their comprehensive Mine Counter Measure Unmanned Surface Vehicle (MCM USV) mission, which includes mine-hunting and potentially mine-neutralization, as well as mine-sweeping. These two additional CUSVs will join the U.S. Navy’s first CUSV, which is designed for the influence sweeping mission.

The CUSV is a multi-mission unmanned surface vehicle, capable of carrying multiple payloads, including side-scan sonar, mine neutralization, nonlethal weapons, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) sensors (Figure 1). Since its first demonstration in 2009, the CUSV has successfully completed several prominent exercises with the U.S. Navy. Today, the variations of the CUSV have amassed more than 2,000 on-water operational hours. Delivery of the two CUSV systems is expected in 2018.

Textron Systems
Hunt Valley, MD
(410) 666-1400
www.textronsystems.com

 

PICMG Ratifies COM Express Revision 3.0 for Server Grade Performance

PICMG has announced the release of a high-performance revision that adds server-grade functionality to COM Express embedded computing systems. Revision 3.0 of COM Express provides for a new Type 7 connector and the addition of up to four 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10GbE) interfaces on the board (Figure 2). Previous revisions of the specification were limited to a single Gbit Ethernet interface. The higher speed ports open up new markets such as data centers where the high compute density of COM Express can result in increased rack utilization. [...]

By |April 19th, 2017|Articles, COTS Journal, The Inside Track|Comments Off on The Inside Track | April 2017|

JEFF’S PICKS: A-D Processing Board Family Boasts Scalable, Flexible Architecture

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JEFF’S PICKS: A-D Processing Board Family Boasts Scalable, Flexible Architecture

Jeff Child, Editor-in-Chief

Today’s military digital conversation applications rely heavily on analog-to-digital converters (ADCs), digital-to-analogy converters and FPGAs. The evolving trend in recent years is to perform digital conversion as soon along the signal chain as possible. High-bandwidth A/D converters with high sampling rates must connect to extremely fast data transfer paths to store and process data with triggering or gating circuitry to digitize pulse waveforms at precisely the right time. To feed those needs, board vendors continue to push the barriers with solutions with ever faster ADCs and more sophisticated FPGAs. A rich selection of digital receiver products combine ADCs and FPGAs on one VME, VPX, or PCI Express board. Other solutions pair a FPGA processing engine with mezzanine-based ADCs using form-factors like FMC or XMC.

For this month’s Jeff’s Picks section COTS Journal evaluated several ADC and DAC conversion products based on three aspects: technology leadership, design innovation and market relevance. The winning product is the PVP-7xx family of A-D processing boards from Star Communications (Figure 1). This family is scalable from 1 to 4 A/D channels and from 1 to 4 FPGAs (Xilinx high-end Virtex-7 XC7VX485T). According to the company, the product is based on a small, multi-channel A-D component that uses high-speed serial links to route sample data to FPGAs on the board.

Each HSSL link consists of a differential pair operating up to 4 Gbits/s, and protected using SONET scrambling and Hamming error correcting codes. Use of HSSL has several PCB design benefits. First, board area is minimized because each differential pair replaces an entire data bus. Second, routing is [...]

By |April 19th, 2017|Articles, COTS Journal, Jeff's Picks, Tech Recon|Comments Off on JEFF’S PICKS: A-D Processing Board Family Boasts Scalable, Flexible Architecture|

Interconnectivity is Theme for UAV and UGV Tech Advances

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Interconnectivity is Theme for UAV and UGV Tech Advances

Unmanned systems both air- and ground-based continue to depend on powerful processing technology. The latest trend is toward communications and network advances among systems.

JEFF CHILD, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

It’s clear that both unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) have evolved to become indispensable tools for today’s modern warfighter. Their technology trends have likewise following a parallel path. Both UAVs and UGV system designs are moving toward more autonomous capabilities and ever more sophisticated ISR collecting. All that requires increased embedded compute density. To keep pace, the embedded computing industry is responding with highly integrated, small form factor solutions serving the needs of UAVs and UGVs.

On UAV side, development in recent years has trended toward upgrades of existing UAV platforms and payloads while limiting development of new ones. Technology vendors have responded with new integrated box-level systems with the proper size, weight and power (SWaP) for UAV requirements. For medium and large UAVs, most system upgrades are aimed at either adding more payload functionality in the same space or at adding more separate payloads on the same platform. The consolidation of multiple systems into few boxes is impacting the radar, imaging processing and communications capabilities of next-gen UAVs.

For UGVs, system platforms have matured significantly since operations in Iraq and Afghanistan began. Over that period, the DoD has acquired and deployed thousands of UGVs and support equipment. The systems support a diverse range of duties, everything from suspected object identification and route clearance to locating and defusing improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Over the last 12 months, a lot of the advances [...]

By |April 18th, 2017|Articles, COTS Journal, Special Feature|Comments Off on Interconnectivity is Theme for UAV and UGV Tech Advances|

FPGA Advances Offer Both Capabilities and Challenges

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FPGA Advances Offer Both Capabilities and Challenges

As FPGAs migrate to roles as “System Chips” they contain ever more valuable defense sensitive data and engineering. Keeping those resources safe and secure raises challenging issues.

J RYAN KENNY, STRATEGIC AND TECHNICAL MARKETING MANAGER
INTEL PSG (ALTERA)

Countless articles in COTS Journal and other publications highlight the importance, applications, and the success of Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) in defense programs. The FPGAs themselves have changed dramatically in ways that augment this success. Advances include the addition of Digital Signal Processing (DSP) blocks, memory resources, high speed data protocol support, extended temperature range support, hardened processors (SoCs), and security features.

The latest generation of 16nm and 14nm products are expanding these inroads even further. The leading FPGA developers have aggressively developed products on the newest silicon manufacturing technologies. That’s driven by the aggregation of applications they can accommodate on a single FPGA platform. These leading-edge technologies then compete economically with ASICS, ASSPs, and other technologies for the limited volumes of many defense applications. In contrast, new custom ASICs entail exponentially increasing NRE expenses on leading silicon technology nodes that are otherwise amortized across different markets and users with FPGA products.

Attractive FPGA Features

The radar and electronic warfare applications of FPGA DSP blocks have been extensively documented by users and providers of FPGA technology. New features for military applications in recent product offerings include the hardening of single precision floating point operations and design/synthesis tool support for hardened floating point. That allows for higher resolution beam forming and image deconstruction and the ability to exploit the higher resolution analog-to-digital converters available in the [...]

By |April 18th, 2017|Articles, COTS Journal, System Development|Comments Off on FPGA Advances Offer Both Capabilities and Challenges|

Mini-ITX and Pico-ITX Boards Boast Leading Edge Graphics

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Mini-ITX and Pico-ITX Boards Boast Leading Edge Graphics

Products based on the various small sized versions of the ITX form factor—Mini-ITX and Pico-ITX—provide system developers with complete PC-functionality and advanced graphics.

JEFF CHILD, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

The days have now past when backplane-based form factors like VME and cPCI were only choices for military systems. Now that a complete computing solution can be designed into a small form factor embedded motherboard, system designers can opt to dispense with extra size and weight for card cages and the backplanes themselves. Among the so-called bus-less embedded form factors are the various versions of the ITX. They offer a more complete single board computer (SBC) approach, integrating most or all of the typical desktop PC kinds of functions. Military systems where graphics are a priority are particularly suited to these types of board-level products (Figure 1). Some of these products takes advantage of the latest SoC integrated with Intel Gen9 featuring seamless Ultra HD graphics and support for multiple display outputs.

The ITX form factor is based on the ATX PC motherboard standard, but it’s more known in recent years its spinoffs Mini-ITX and Pico-ITX. Mini-ITX is a 17 x 17 cm (or 6.7 x 6.7 inch) low-power motherboard form factor developed by VIA Technologies in 2001. They are commonly used in small form factor (SFF) computer systems. Mini-ITX boards can be passively cooled due to their low power consumption architecture. The four mounting holes in a Mini-ITX board line up with four of the holes in ATX-specification motherboards. Pico-ITX, meanwhile, is a PC motherboard form factor announced by VIA Technologies in January 2007. The form factor was transferred [...]

By |April 14th, 2017|Articles, COTS Journal, Datasheets|Comments Off on Mini-ITX and Pico-ITX Boards Boast Leading Edge Graphics|

Embedded Computing Enables Smaller, Smarter UAV Designs

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Embedded Computing Enables Smaller, Smarter UAV Designs

Highly integrated, embedded technologies with low SWaP are giving UAV system developers an expanding set of options with which they can meet upcoming challenges.

JOE EICHER, DEFENSE GLOBAL BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT
KONTRON

The Department of Defense 2017 budget request illustrates that the military shows no signs of backing away from advancing their unmanned vehicle programs. This comes from the success of manned-unmanned defense teaming that has proven these programs to be highly successful in helping military operations become more agile, responsive and safe. From the Air Force and Army to the Marines and Navy, all branches are looking to add more air, sea and land unmanned systems, including smaller and smarter ones to their arsenal.

The diverse and complex nature of UAV designs and the integrated computing systems inside pose some of the most difficult design challenges for developers (Figure 1). The complexity and functionality of these systems grows with each new generation or upgrade, where each must satisfy a varied list of requirements that continually test the limits of embedded computing technologies all within strict budget guidelines and tight program deadlines.

Embedded Computing Solutions

Continuing advancements in open architecture COTS embedded computing are helping to drive UAV system innovation. Even though every UAV design has a defined set of requirements, they do share the need for characteristics that are common benefits delivered by COTS-based computing platforms. Namely these are the ability to provide ever higher processing performance, interoperability, scalability, adherence to strict size, weight and power (SWaP) restrictions and cost-effective long-term availability.

In fact, last year the Pentagon continued its search for next-generation warfighting technologies. They invited technology companies [...]

By |April 14th, 2017|Articles, COTS Journal, Special Feature|Comments Off on Embedded Computing Enables Smaller, Smarter UAV Designs|

Low-Power IoT: Why Should I Care?

Market Potential

According to Berg Insight, a Sweden-based market research firm, the shipment of global cellular IoT devices will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 22.7% to reach 530 million units while non-cellular Low Power WAN (LPWA) including LoRa and Sigfox will grow from13.5 million units to 50-100 million in 2022. “LTE-M and NB-IoT are the latest in a long line of cellular standards already connecting hundreds of millions of devices worldwide”, says Tobias Ryberg, senior analyst and author of the report, “Alternative non-cellular LPWA technologies have a very long way to go before they achieve the same prominence.” www.berginsight.com.

IoT Applications

Caption: Top IoT projects, as shown in the survey done by IoT Analytics, include Connected Industry, Smart City and Smart Energy.

It is interesting to note the top IoT applications, as shown in the survey of 640 industrial IoT projects done by IoT Analytics GmbH, a Germany based IoT market research firm, to be Connected Industry, Smart City and Smart Energy. 44% of these projects are in Americas while 34% are in Europe. The Asia / Pacific region is particularly strong in Smart Energy projects (25%). www.iot-analytics.com

IoT has become a worldwide phenomenon. Why is everyone so enthusiastic? In short, it makes us more productive in a meaningful way. Using the cloud /wireless connectivity, IoT provides users with insight which was not available before. The major benefits include cost reduction, time saving and a new platform to generate more business together. It is technology-based enabler that help create new applications every day. The most popular application is [...]

By |April 13th, 2017|Articles, Special Feature|Comments Off on Low-Power IoT: Why Should I Care?|

COTS Products | March 2017

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COTS Products | March 2017

 

System Allows High-Quality Digital Radar Data Manipulation

Cambridge Pixel has announced RadarVision, a plug and play system which converts radar data into camera-like data stream to display on any security video management system (VMS). Additionally, the radar images displayed alongside the camera images can be zoomed and panned using an on-screen or physical joystick with the PELCO-D interface from the VMS. It is compatible with a wide range of security, maritime and specialist radars. The unit can enhance the radar information by integrating new information to it and display the final output to regular video unit. Radar video signals are input via an acquisition card, as ASTERIX CAT-240 network data or in proprietary formats. The data is then scan converted into a plan image and output as a H.264 (RTSP packaged) network video stream that feeds directly into the VMS to be viewed alongside data from traditional daylight and thermal cameras.

Traditionally, radar signals are displayed in relatively low resolution and the data cannot be modified or manipulated. The new approach allows data to be more versatile and useful. Most important of all, the system allows can integrate the radar information other data. For example, maps can be displayed with radar signal on top with manipulation. The unit is available as either software-only version or a complete software /hardware solution and is commonly used in mission critical applications such as naval, vessel traffic, air traffic control, commercial shipping and airborne radar.

Cambridge Pixel
Cambridge, UK
+44 (0) 1763 852749
www.cambridgepixel.com

 

Skylake-S Processor-based SBC Features 32 Gbyte of DDR4 DRAM

By |March 28th, 2017|Articles, COTS Journal, COTS Products|Comments Off on COTS Products | March 2017|