Vistas mil-spec PowerPC 750-based device rides on Abrams tank

SANTA CLARITA, Calif. — Engineers at Vista Controls, a Lau Defense Systems company, have field tested their mil-spec GPCP 750 (general purpose control processor) single-board computer on the U.S. Army M1 Abrams main battle tank from General Dynamics Land Systems in Sterling Heights, Mich.

By John McHale

SANTA CLARITA, Calif. — Engineers at Vista Controls, a Lau Defense Systems company, have field tested their mil-spec GPCP 750 (general purpose control processor) single-board computer on the U.S. Army M1 Abrams main battle tank from General Dynamics Land Systems in Sterling Heights, Mich.

The Vista board replaces an old AMD 29050 RISC-based processor from Vista on the Abrams, says Gorky Chin, vice president of technology at Vista Controls in Santa Clarita, Calif. The GPCP 750 has three to five times the performance capability of the AMD on paper, Chin continues. While theoretically the new PowerPC board can generate 10 times the performance, he claims.

Full production has just started on the GPCP 750 boards, says Richard Copra, vice president of marketing at Vista Controls. The Abrams tank currently has brass-board versions of the new device running, and General Dynamics officials are pleased and want to see more, Copra claims.

The Vista product is targeted at fire control systems like that on the Abrams tank, navigation, flight control, and sighthead stabilization in harsh environments.

The GPCP 750 has a 200 MHz PowerPC 750 processor and features 32 megabytes of DRAM with error correction and detection, 16 megabytes of 64-bit FLASH memory, 512 kilobytes of boot PROM, and 512 kilobytes of cache.

The addition of two PMC sites also makes the board more expandable than previous versions, Chin says.

The conduction-cooled GPCP 750 has two on-board PMC interfaces, so systems integrators may customize it by adding standard PMC modules available from Vista or custom-designed PMC modules. Dual PMC sites provide the design flexibility necessary for mission-critical applications, while eliminating the need for additional system boards, Vista officials claim.

The radiation-hardened device has an operating temperature range of -55 to 85 degrees Celsius. Experts at General Dynamics Land Systems radiation-hardened the board, Chin says.

On-board resources include two RS-232 and two RS-422 serial ports, seven variable-gain differential DC inputs, six AC analog inputs, four servo-valve outputs, and five discrete I/O ports.

The Vista device also has a high-speed interrupt controller, three 16-bit timers/counters, a watchdog timer and real-time clock along with built-in-test capability, and a JTAG emulation port.

Five-row DIN connectors on P1 and P2, as well as a P0 connector enable all the I/O to transfer through the backplane. All I/O lines are impedance matched to ensure high-quality I/O, Vista officials say.

Earlier components in Vista`s PowerPC single-board computer family, based on the PowerPC 603e or the PowerPC 740, may be upgraded to parallel the performance of the GPCP 750 with little or no change in software or chassis wiring.

For more information on the GPCP 750 or Vista Controls contact Chuck Parks by phone at 661-257-4430, by fax at 661-257-4782, by mail at Vista Controls Corp., 27825 Fremont Ct., Santa Clarita, Calif. 91355, by e-mail at cparks@vistacontrols.com, or on at http://www.vistacontrols.com.

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