PC-MIP gains ground in defense industry

NEWARK, Calif. — PC-MIP, the small mezzanine card form factor from SBS Technologies Modular I/O, is strengthening its presence in the defense industry through a digital battlefield win and a design-in with a major aerospace manufacturer.

Jul 1st, 2000

By John McHale

NEWARK, Calif. — PC-MIP, the small mezzanine card form factor from SBS Technologies Modular I/O, is strengthening its presence in the defense industry through a digital battlefield win and a design-in with a major aerospace manufacturer.

Engineers at Litton Data Systems Division in Agoura Hills, Calif., are using the PC-MIP mezzanine card for their Applique+ V4 computers.

In addition, experts at Phillips Aerospace in Industry, Calif., are developing a PC-MIP design, says Greg Kopchinski, product marketing manager at SBS in Newark, Calif. The Applique has five PC-MIP expansion slots, he adds.

PC-MIP, which was slow to break into military programs, is a credit-card size follow-on mezzanine card to the SBS IndustryPack (IP). PC-MIP modules provide I/O expansion for CompactPCI, Industrial PCI, and custom embedded computing products.

"We still see IndustryPack as a growing market," Kopchinski says. There is a lot more I/O with IP and it has a nice niche in VME, he adds. The main market for PC-MIP is smaller form factors such as 3U and 6U, Kopchinski says.

Experts are designing the Applique under the U.S. Army's Force 21-Applique program for situational awareness, command and control, and weapons targeting applications. TRW in Redondo Beach, Calif., is the prime contractor for the program.

The Litton computer uses an Intel Pentium II processor with expansion features that include USB, Ethernet, CompactPCI, PMC, and PC-MIP slots that take advantage of the latest in special-purpose cards and boards, Litton officials say. A PCI bus video and a multi-GB removable hard drive are also included.

Phillips engineers recently completed a PC-MIP design that they are looking at reselling,"Kopchinski says. However, the "details are not finalized yet," he adds.

Phillips engineers are designing the StrongARM (SA1) computer for PC-MIP. The SA1 is a double size Type I PC-MIP compliant computer module based on the Intel StrongARM SA-110 CPU. The board includes a CPU, memory, PCI interface, and debug support for PC-MIP hosted embedded applications.

"Like many in the aerospace industry, Phillips has been using IP for many years," says Randy Dunn, general manager at Phillips Aerospace. "Our real-time avionics simulation packages are based on the IP architecture for ARINC429, serial, and various discrete interfaces.

"The PC-MIP architecture extends the bandwidth of the IP bus, while at the same time standardizing it," Dunn explains. "The increased performance has obvious merits, and the availability of low-cost PCI chipsets and IP code for [field programmable gate arrays], coupled with the more stringent PCI specification increases the interoperability of components.

"We have seen that IP modules do not always work together with other IPs or with some carriers," Dunn continues. There appears to be some variation in interpretation of the specification. We believe the PC-MIP / PCI specifications will do a better job of this."

Phillips engineers needed embedded intelligence to take advantage of the PC-MIP for avionics simulations and data acquisition so they selected the Intel SA1 for its performance, footprint, and broad range of software development tools, Dunn says. "Rather that placing this processor on a fixed host carrier, Phillips opted instead to make the processor itself a PC-MIP module, the SA/1, with integrated DRAM and FLASH memory," he continues. "Adding this CPU and various I/O modules completes the PC-MIP picture of a 'complete system on a single embedded carrier card.'

"Since PC-MIP carriers can hold more modules than similar IP carriers, this architecture offers more capability that an IP system without sacrificing density, Dunn adds.

The SA1 can be used as the central processor in a SA-110-based computer and as an add-in card in an existing PC-MIP-based machine, where the SA1 acts as a coprocessor to the host system. When functioning as the central processor, the SA1 acts as the central processor, main memory, and host bridge and provides standard system capabilities, including interrupt controller, DMA controller, timers, and a UART. The SA1 can also configure and control other devices on the PCI bus.

For more information on PC-MIP and SBS Technologies Modular I/O contact Greg Kopchinski by phone at 510-742-2500, by fax at 510-742-2501, or on the World Wide Web at http://www.sbs-mio.com.

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