VPX Dominates Current Crop of Board-Level Ethernet Switches

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


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

Ethernet is also attractive because it provides 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.

On top of all that, Ethernet meanwhile is also the standard in the defense realm 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.

As the round up on the next four pages show, VPX remains the most common form factor for board-level rugged Ethernet switches among recent products (recent meaning in the last 12 to 18 months). A couple of CompactPCI Serial boards along with COM Express and PCIe/104 offerings round out the mix. These solutions 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. The topic of new products in the box-level Ethernet switches is rich category but falls outside the scope of this roundup.

As an example of rugged Ethernet switching technology in action, Curtiss-Wright’s Defense Solutions division announced last Spring that it was selected by TORC Robotics to provide its small form factor (SFF) rugged Gbit Ethernet switch subsystem for use in autonomous tele-operated unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs). Curtiss-Wright provided TORC with its rugged, SFF Parvus DuraNET 20-10 Ethernet switch, a fully managed 20-port network switch. The unit provides a solution for connecting a large number of IP-enabled embedded devices at the network edge, including computers, cameras, sensors, and command-and-control equipment onboard aircraft and vehicles deployed with digital networked architectures. Units ordered by TORC were delivered in 2015 and successfully integrated into TORC UGV platforms (Figure 1).


Figure 1 TORC Robotics integrates the SFF Parvus DuraNET 20-10 Ethernet switch into its UGV platforms.

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

  Figure 1

Figure 1 Abaco Systems

Fully Managed 3U VPX Rugged Switch Boots in 15 Seconds

Abaco Systems offers the rugged GBX411 which supports 24 Gigabit Ethernet and four 10Gigabit Ethernet ports with multiple configuration options. It’s been upgraded with technology enabling it to boot in 15 seconds. 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

Abaco Systems
Huntsville, AL
(866) 652-2226

  Figure 2

Figure 2 Aitech

3U VPX Board Provides Managed GbE and PCI Express Switching

Aitech’s C690 is a high-performance 3U VPX integrated managed Gigabit Ethernet and PCI Express Switch for embedded and harsh environment applications. For managed GbE switching, the C690 uses the Marvell Prestera 98DX4122 running Marvell routing and management OS. It comes in three standard port configurations: eight 1000Base-BX/KX; six 1000Base-BX/KX with two 1000Base-T; or five 1000Base-T.

  • Rugged 3U VPX Single-Slot Integrated Managed GbE and PCIe Gen2 Switch.
  • Three standard port configurations: eight 1000Base-BX/KX; six 1000Base-BX/KX with two 1000Base-T; or five 1000Base-T.
  • PCIe Gen2 switch with 6 PCIe x4 ports (default); User configurable as up to 20 Ports.
  • Full wire-speed non-blocking forwarding.
  • Conduction and air-cooled versions.
  • 2LM Option per VITA 48.2.
  • Vibration and shock resistant.

C690 Data Sheet:  Click Here    Registration required

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

  Figure 3

Figure 3 Concurrent Technologies

Xeon-based 10 Gbit Ethernet Switch Server is Optimized for SWaP

FR 351/m06 from Concurrent Technologies is a 10 Gbit Ethernet switch designed to provide high bandwidth communication between VPX modules for server, storage and processing applications. It includes an on-board management processor for easy configuration and supports the latest VITA 46.11 management specification. Two 10 Gigabit ports SFP+ ports are additionally provided on the front panel for high throughput uplink connections.

  • 80 Gbps non-blocking switch supporting 10 Gbit Ethernet data plane connection to each payload slot.
  • Gbit Ethernet control plane connection to each payload slot.
  • Switch management via Gbit Ethernet ports (front and rear).
  • Data plane and control plane separation.
  • Air-cooled versions include two 10 Gbit Ethernet uplinks.
  • Extended temperature and rugged conduction-cooled versions available.

FR 351/m06 Data Sheet:  Click Here

Concurrent Technologies
Woburn, MA
(781) 933-5900

  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 EKF Electronik

9-Port Gbit Ethernet Switch Rides CompactPCI Serial

EKF Elektronik’s SL2-BRASS is a 9-port Gbit Ethernet switch built on a peripheral slot card for CompactPCI Serial systems. While four GbE ports are wired to associated M12 X-coded front panel receptacles, another four GbE ports are available for backplane communication via the CompactPCI Serial connector P6.

  • PICMG CompactPCI Serial standard (CPCI-S.0) peripheral slot card or system slot card.
  • Marvell 88E6390 based Gbit Ethernet switch (in use 8 x GbE MAC/PHY 1000BASE-T, 1 x GbE MAC/SerDes).
  • High performance, non-blocking, Gbit Ethernet.
  • Time Sensitive Networking (TSN) Standards, IEEE 1588v2 one-step PTP.
  • Quality of Service (QoS) support with 8 traffic classes.
  • Supports 4096 802.1Q VLANs, three levels of 802.1Q security.
  • Unmanaged or managed solution.

SL2-BRASS Data Sheet:  Click Here

EKF Elektronik
Hamm, Germany
+49 (0)2381/6890-0

  Figure 7

Figure 7 Extreme Engineering

3U VPX Switch Blends 10 Gbit Ethernet and PCI Express Gen3

The XChange3021 from Extreme Engineering Solutions is a conduction- or air-cooled, 3U OpenVPX integrated switch module supporting both PCI Express and Ethernet protocols. The integrated PCI Express and Ethernet switch functionality allow XChange3021 to serve as the heart of inter-board communications inside a high-end OpenVPX system.

  • Up to six x4 PCI Express Gen3 interfaces; One x8 PCI Express Gen3 interface to XMC.
  • Up to eight 10GBASE-KR or 1000BASE-BX/KX Ethernet ports; Up to two 10GBASE-T Ethernet ports; Up to three 10/100/1000BASE-T Ethernet ports to XMC site.
  • Layer 2 switching and Layer 3 routing management.
  • VICTORY Infrastructure Switch and Router support (optional).
  • Supports the XPedite5205 Cisco IOS Embedded Services Router.
  • Compatible with multiple VITA 65 OpenVPX switch slot profiles.

XChange3021 Data Sheet:  Click Here 

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

  Figure 8

Figure 8 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 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 RTD Embedded Technologies

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 B

Figure B Techaya

24 GbE Port + 4 10 GbE Port Ethernet Switch Boasts Dynamic Routing

The MILTECH 9128 from Techaya is an advanced Ethernet Switch with Layer 3 dynamic routing capabilities and offers four 10 GbE and 24 triple-speed (10/100/1000) ports in a compact 3.55″ by 3.55 inch card.

  • Ideal for aggregating traffic from dozens of IP-based devices.
  • Advanced network routing features: VLANS, traffic prioritization (QoS), bandwidth aggregation, dynamic routing (RIPV1,V2, OSPF V2/V3, Multicast Routing, VRRP, ECMP Routing) and full IPv6.
  • Conformally coated. Withstands working temperatures of -40 to +85 degrees C. MIL-STD-810 and MIL-STD461 in a suitable enclosure.
  • Board-to-board connectors make it easy to integrate as a module-based network building block.
  • Rapid evaluation carrier boards are available for even faster integration and system testing.

MILTECH 9128 Data Sheet:  Click Here    Registration required

Pardes Hana
+972 (4) 6377741

  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