PA Semi acquisition main buzz at Critical Embedded Systems Media Fest

By Joseph Normandin
Posted by John McHale

The impact of Apple's purchase of chip provider, P.A. Semi last week was the hot topic among attendees and sponsors at the Critical Embedded Systems Media Fest held in Scottsdale this week.

P.A. Semi makes a high-performance processor - the PWRFficient - which has the low power attributes needed for rugged military embedded applications, and seen as the low-power alternative to the PowerPC and Intel chips.

Many companies have designed product lines around the P.A. Semi device, and are concerned that Apple might not see the need to continue producing it because of the low volume market it represents.

One of those companies, Extreme Engineering is taking a positive look. Extreme's vice president of sales and marketing, Brett Farnum, says he believes that Apple will do the right thing and off load the technology to a third party manufacturer and that it will continue to be supplied.

During his opening remarks, Ray Alderman , executive director of VITA – the standards organization that runs the event – said that the federal government is looking to get involved to ensure continued supply of the P.A. Semi technology because it supports mission critical military applications.

However, some of the other attendees are not as optimistic about the continuation of the part. Peter Cavill , managing director of GE Fanuc Intelligent Platforms , said during his keynote address that he hopes the chip will still be available but is doubtful. Cavill also said that without the low power chip, the industry will be forced to design systems with less thermally efficient processors such as the Intel devices and that this may inspire new unique cooling solutions to solve the thermal management challenges that accompany the high-performance commercial processors.

Right now it's a wait and see and embedded vendors are coming with alternative plans for their customers in case the P.A. Semi technology does disappear.

The Critical Embedded Systems conference itself was smaller than it had been in the past when it was called the Bus and Board conference. There seemed to be a third of the attendance than when it was in its heyday.

Notable absences were the RTC Group publications – COTS Journal and RTC Magazine – and past sponsor Curtiss-Wright Controls Embedded Computing .

However, despite those factors I still felt it was an effective event. It's not a news making conference, but one of the best networking events for embedded media and vendors. I enjoy meeting with embedded defense suppliers and the market outlook presentations.

In fact I thought this year's keynotes were the best I've seen in the decade I've attend the event. Doug Patterson , vice president of sales and marketing at Aitech and Peter Cavill gave informative presentations on COTS (commercial-off-the-shelf) procurement and defense market analysis without turning their presentations into blatant commercials.

I enjoy coming to this event and networking with familiar and new faces in the industry. I find much more value in face-to-face meetings than conference calls or email threads. Maybe I'm just a bit old-fashioned.

I hope the Critical Embedded Systems Conference continues in some form.

Previous Blog Posts

Capital Hill budget deal could restore tens of billions of dollars to the Pentagon

Tue Dec 17 13:15:00 CST 2013

Hacker drone story a cautionary tale about the need for unmanned vehicle data security

Tue Dec 10 09:46:00 CST 2013

Lack of money for systems upgrades threatens to maintain wind-farm radar dead spots

Tue Dec 03 10:36:00 CST 2013

Engineering support contracts indicate the Pentagon is sinking into the Mothball Strategy

Tue Nov 26 06:57:00 CST 2013

The revenge of COTS: an ageing commercial technology base complicates military supply chain

Tue Nov 19 08:53:00 CST 2013

Navy's newest destroyers evolve to fill traditional battleship roles

Tue Nov 12 11:54:00 CST 2013

International suspicions of U.S. encryption technology putting defense companies in a bind

Tue Nov 05 11:24:00 CST 2013

Defense industry left guessing as Army struggles forward with an unclear mission

Tue Oct 29 09:45:00 CDT 2013

These are tough times for the combat vehicle and vetronics industries

Tue Oct 22 04:22:00 CDT 2013

Is the government shutdown a harbinger of more ominous things to come?

Tue Oct 15 11:21:00 CDT 2013

Government shutdown reduces military contracting, increasing pressure on U.S. defense industry

Mon Oct 07 12:17:00 CDT 2013

Potential good news: has U.S. defense spending finally bottomed-out?

Tue Oct 01 13:02:00 CDT 2013

Is robotics revolution the first glimpse of a fundamental change in human evolution?

Tue Sep 24 09:46:00 CDT 2013

Obsolescent parts: are we enhancing military readiness or creating a hollow force?

Tue Sep 17 15:46:00 CDT 2013

For the high-tech warfighter, the future of electronics-laden uniforms is here

Tue Sep 10 11:26:00 CDT 2013

New generation of embedded computing thermal management in development at GE

Tue Sep 03 09:44:00 CDT 2013

Trading bus stops for credit cards: how far embedded computing has come in three decades

Tue Aug 27 10:59:00 CDT 2013

Unmanned vehicle industry stands at the doorstep of a fundamental transformation

Tue Aug 20 11:09:00 CDT 2013

AUVSI 2013, one of the biggest unmanned vehicles shows in the world, opens this week in Washington

Tue Aug 13 05:35:00 CDT 2013

The Washington Post, under Jeff Bezos, could lead the way for media in the 21st Century

Tue Aug 06 09:47:00 CDT 2013

Are costs and vulnerabilities making military leaders nervous about satellite communications?

Tue Jul 30 11:07:00 CDT 2013

Unmanned aircraft carrier that travels beneath the waves may be in the Navy's future

Tue Jul 23 05:20:00 CDT 2013

Electronic warfare programs kick into high gear with a flurry of contract activity

Tue Jul 16 08:03:00 CDT 2013

How vulnerable are U.S. Navy vessels to advanced anti-ship cruise missiles?

Tue Jul 09 07:03:00 CDT 2013

First came VHSIC, then came MIMIC, and now comes ACE to push electronics technology

Tue Jul 02 09:16:00 CDT 2013

The Mil & Aero Bloggers

John Keller is editor-in-chief of Military & Aerospace Electronics magazine, which provides extensive coverage and analysis of enabling electronic and optoelectronic technologies in military, space, and commercial aviation applications. A member of the Military & Aerospace Electronics staff since the magazine's founding in 1989, Mr. Keller took over as chief editor in 1995.

Ernesto Burden is the publisher of PennWell’s Aerospace & Defense Media Group, including Military & Aerospace Electronics, Avionics Intelligence and Avionics Europe.  He’s a father of four, a runner, and an avid digital media enthusiast with a deep background in the intersection of media publishing, digital technology, and social media. He can be reached at and on Twitter @aero_ernesto.

Courtney E. Howard, as executive editor, enjoys writing about all things electronics and avionics in PennWell’s burgeoning Aerospace and Defense Group, which encompasses Military & Aerospace Electronics, Avionics Intelligence, the Avionics Europe conference, and much more. She’s also a self-proclaimed social-media maven, mil-aero nerd, and avid avionics geek. Connect with Courtney at, @coho on Twitter, and on LinkedIn.

Mil & Aero Magazine

June 2015
Volume 26, Issue 6

All Access Sponsors

Download Our Apps




Connect with Us


Military & Aerospace Electronics

Weekly newsletter covering technical content, breaking news and product information

Cyber Security

Monthly newsletter covering cyber warfare, cyber security, information warfare, and information security technologies, products, contracts, and procurement opportunities

Defense Executive

Monthly newsletter covering business news and strategic insights for executive managers

Electronic Warfare

Quarterly newsletter covering technologies and applications in electronic warfare, cyber warfare, optical warfare, and spectrum warfare.

Embedded Computing Report

Monthly newsletter covering news on embedded computing in aerospace, defense and industrial-rugged applications

Unmanned Vehicles

Monthly newsletter covering news updates for designers of unmanned vehicles