PowerMIDAS from VMETRO provides high bandwidth for Comanche helicopter

HOUSTON — The new PowerMIDAS series of I/O subsystems, from engineers at VMETRO, follows its previous version into signal processing systems, and for the first time launching VMETRO into the high-bandwidth I/O market.

Jul 1st, 2000
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By John McHale

HOUSTON — The new PowerMIDAS series of I/O subsystems, from engineers at VMETRO, follows its previous version into signal processing systems, and for the first time launching VMETRO into the high-bandwidth I/O market.

The device is in use on a flight test application for the U.S. Army RAH-66 Comanche scout-attack helicopter, says Tom Bohman, vice president of business development for Midas RX and MDR products at VMETRO. The device interfaces with the 1553 databus on the aircraft, he explains.

The VMETRO board generates the high bandwidth through the RACE++ crossbar architecture from Mercury Computer Systems in Chelmsford, Mass. RACE++ is an enhancement of the original ANSI-standard RACEway interconnect.

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The PowerMIDAS board uses two separate 64-bit PCI buses, each with its own 267-megabyte-per-second interface to the RACE++ crossbar network, for a total I/O bandwidth of as much as 533 megabytes per second. Information flows over the RACE++ crossbar to another MIDAS card then feeds out over Fibre Channel to a storage disk such as RAID or JBOT, Bohman explains.

Before Mercury experts created RACE++, engineers typically used VMEbus to transfer data. VMEbus, however, only had a throughput of 40 to 60 megabytes per second, Bohman says. RACE++ uses a similar approach, but with a bandwidth of 267 megabytes per second, he adds. The PowerMIDAS series uses VMEbus technology and can accommodate customers who have low-throughput requirements, Bohman continues.

The increased bandwidth has opened up a whole new market for VMETRO, Bohman says. In addition to signal processing, the company can provide high-bandwidth solutions for flight testing and similar applications, he adds.

The device, which has a choice of single or dual PowerPC or i960RN processor architectures, carries two PCI mezzanine cards (PMCs) with an architecture designed for high-bandwidth I/O applications. PMCs supported include Fibre Channel for disk storage or real-time networks, Parallel I/O for sensor I/O (FPDP or custom ports), or video for frame grabber and display controller functions.

The product comes as a pre-programmed I/O solution for Fibre Channel, parallel I/O, or video in the RACE series of real-time multicomputers from Mercury and includes an application program interface for the MC/OS operating system. Customer programmable solutions are also available based on the VxWorks real-time operating system, enabling customers to make their own I/O solutions based on available PMC modules for different I/O functions, VMETRO officials claim.

The PowerMIDAS boards also have a symmetrical PMC arrangement that places one PMC on each side of a shared DRAM memory with as much as 533 megabytes per second bandwidth. Together with DMA controllers in the i960RN or in the chosen PMC modules, this facilitates a "swinging buffer" scheme ideal for high-speed data flow-through applications, VMETRO officials say.

The PowerMIDAS products also solve I/O requirements such as sensor I/O and recording for imaging equipment such as radar and sonar. The device is involved in a sonar application for the U.S. Navy's future Virginia-class new attack submarine, Bohman says.

For more information on the PowerMIDAS series contact Tom Bohman by phone at 281-584-0728, by fax at 281-798-5752, by mail at VMETRO, 1880 Dairy Ashford, Suite 535, Houston, Texas 77077, by e-mail at tbohman@vmetro.com, or on the World Wide Web at http://www.vmetro.com.

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