DOD names three board companies as real-time suppliers of DII coe

Sept. 1, 1999
WASHINGTON — Officials at the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) are partnering with three PowerPC single-board computer providers on an initiative to enhance the effectiveness of systems supporting real-time command and control.

By John McHale

WASHINGTON — Officials at the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) are partnering with three PowerPC single-board computer providers on an initiative to enhance the effectiveness of systems supporting real-time command and control.

The program, called the DOD`s Defense Information Infrastructure Common Operating Environment (DII COE) Real-Time Extensions, has a goal of improving the performance and interoperability of military computer systems that handle command-and-control tasks.

Engineers at Motorola Computer Group in Tempe, Ariz., Force Computers in San Jose, Calif., and Cetia in Burlington, Mass., will provide printed circuit boards to the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) in Arlington, Va., NASA`s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif., and the lead DII COE real-time contractor — Boeing in Seattle.

Experts from these contractors will work together to ensure that the DII COE infrastructure can operate on boards from several different vendors, says Lt. Col. Lucie Robillard, Air Force Executive Agent for DII COE Real-Time Extensions at Hanscom Air Force Base in Lexington, Mass.

Defense officials chose the three vendors because they have proven their worth on other programs, Robillard says.

Robillard will use commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) technology whenever and wher-ever possible, she says. There are no military-specific products being chosen, she says.

Force Computers only makes COTS devices, says John Warther, federal business manager at Force Computers. The government must turn toward COTS equipment to get top-of-the-line performance, he says.

DII COE is a basket of software that is compatible with hardware technology throughout the DOD. It is in place to assure military program managers that the software and hardware they choose for their projects will work together smoothly.

The goal is to be hardware independent, Robillard says. The three vendors already work with a variety of software operating systems.

Currently LynxOS from Lynx Real-Time Systems in San Jose Calif., is the only real-time system in the DII COE basket, Robillard says. VxWorks from Wind River Systems in Alameda, Calif., will probably be next.

Windows NT and Solaris are already DII COE operating systems, she adds. Robillard does not yet see a base for Linux among her customers.

Motorola Computer Group engineers will provide their open-architecture MVME3604 VME single-board computer to the program.

The MVME3604 will enable DII COE systems developed at DISA, and their contractor, JPL, to improve interoperability for such mission-critical systems as the Airborne Warning and Control System, Joint Tactical Terminal/ Common Integrated Broadcast Service- Modules, Region/Sector Air Operations Center, as well as various systems from the Navy, Army, and signals intelligence community, Motorola Computer Group officials say.

Real-time extensions to the existing basic DII COE infrastructure will enhance command and control system interoperability-for sensors and weapons platforms, which require strict adherence to deadlines.

"Motorola Computer Group`s open-architecture approach enables our products to support a variety of operating systems, including the Lynx OS real-time operating system, upon which DII COE for Real-Time will be based in its initial configuration," says Bob Lyon, vice president and director of the Cross Industry Business Unit, at Motorola Computer Group.

MVME3604 features include fast SCSI, 10/100 Ethernet, graphics, serial I/O, floppy disks, and mouse, keyboard, and printer connectivity. The MVME3604 uses Motorola`s PowerPC 604 32-bit microprocessor running at 400 MHz and includes PCI bus for the one-board peripherals, processor/memory to PCI bus bridge, and a VME interface.

Force Computers engineers are offering their CPU-50, a compact 6U VME board, with 300MHz UltraSPARC III processor technology and their PowerCore-6750 VME board. Other features of the CPU-50 include thermal dissipation, and optional expansion boards for additional I/O.

Features of the PowerCore-6750 include 400 MHz processing, 192 megabytes of EDO DRAM with ECC or 256 megabytes of synchronous DRAM, and 8 megabytes of on-board FLASH memory.

Cetia engineers are providing their VMPC5a-Dual 750 PowerPC processing boards for the DII COE, Cetia officials say. The processors run at 266 MHz or 366 MHz. Other specifications include 32-kilobit instruction cache and 32-kilobit data cache, four instructions per clock cycle a memory management unit, and a 64-bit data bus.

To further boost performance, each processor has a dedicated 1 megabit of backside L2 cache, enabling both PowerPC 750 micro-processors to run in parallel while using only about five watts of power. The use of a separate L2 cache bus enables processing three times faster than earlier cache designs, Cetia officials claim.

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