Experts discuss VITA 46 issues and challenges in Military & Aerospace Electronics Webcast

Nov. 1, 2005
Three leaders in the VME community discussed the challenges facing designers of VITA 46 products Sept. 27 in the “VITA 46: Strategies, risks, and opportunities” Webcast from Military & Aerospace Electronics Online.

By John McHale

NASHUA, N.H. - Three leaders in the VME community discussed the challenges facing designers of VITA 46 products Sept. 27 in the “VITA 46: Strategies, risks, and opportunities” Webcast from Military & Aerospace Electronics Online.

A panel of experts gave their views on VITA 46 issues, and addressed questions from online attendees on basic fabric architectures related to VITA 46, technology requirements of major military platforms, implementation challenges, and other important issues.

Sponsoring the Webcast were Curtiss-Wright Controls Embedded Computing, Elma Electronics, and SBS Technologies.

Ray Alderman, executive director of the VME International Trade Association (VITA) in Scottsdale, Ariz., Mark Heslep, head of the Embedded Solutions Team at Mitre Corp. in Arlington, Va., and Jim Robles, senior fellow at the Boeing Co. in Seattle, made presentations on the issues facing VITA 46 standardization and fielded questions from an audience of more than 100 participants.

“VITA 46 is an implementation platform for fabrics and there is nothing wrong with VITA 46,” Alderman said to begin the Webcast. “The problem is inherent in the fabrics themselves.”

Much software code still has to be developed before fabrics are viable, he said. The fabric architectures include point-to-point I/O, streaming I/O, and multiprocessing architectures. Multiprocessing architectures include Rapid IO, PCI Express, Infiniband, 1 Gigabit Ethernet and 10 Gigabit Ethernet, Alderman said.

The most important benefit of VITA 46 is the ability to use commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) products, Heslep said. Not custom designs but real off-the shelf solutions that “We can use in the field in tactical platforms.”

“VITA 46 is a supercomputing architecture,” Alderman said. However, there is still a place for VME and VITA 41 in the marketplace, he added.

VITA 41 is the predecessor to VITA 46. Alderman called it “VITA 46 with training wheels. It can accommodate streaming I/O, but does not work with exotic cooling or differential connectors.

VITA 46 addresses the high-density applications that VITA 41 and VME cannot, he added.

“I’m enthusiastic about VITA 46 and what it promises to do for our government sponsors,” said Heslep during his presentation. The entire VITA 46 suite-VITA 46, 47, and 48 hold great promise, he added.

VITA 47 will provide the open architecture standard that will enable designers to move from generation to generation seamlessly, Robles said.

What Boeing’s customers require from electronic solutions on advanced fighters, helicopters, and ground vehicles are minimal total ownership cost, high functional density to minimize weight and volume, reliability in harsh environments, compatibility with two-level maintenance, and technology insertion to combat component obsolescence, Robles said.

VITA 46 and VITA 48 will provide for the high-functional density in the COTS format that is needed for Boeing’s customer’s platforms, Robles said. They will also have an electrostatic-discharge (ESD) connector that will enable compatibility with two-level maintenance, he said. VITA 48 will provide additional covers for ESD and handling, Robles added.

VITA 48 also answers the thermal-management challenge by providing for enhanced conduction cooling, liquid flow-through cooling, and spray cooling, Robles said.

A Webcast audience member asked the panel when VITA 46 would be approved. Alderman answered that it should have ANSI approval by “quarter one or quarter two of 2006.” It should all be wrapped up then depending on public approval of the specification-in case anyone has an objection that needs to be addressed, he said.

Other audience questions covered including whether VITA 46 would increase board size; how VITA 46 provides for data security; what applications high-data throughput would be appropriate for under VITA 46; interoperability under VITA 46; and more.

The entire Webcast including panel presentations and the question and answer session are available on the Military & Aerospace Electronics website. To register to view the VITA 46: Strategies, risks, and opportunities Webcast go to

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