Give us your what – and we’ll show you our how

Sept. 13, 2017
As a child I was a bit obstinate at times, and often resented the fact my parents would tell me how I was to do a task. I didn’t mind, let’s say, washing the car - but I wanted the flexibility to figure exactly how best to do that on my own.

Historically, those of our customers looking to develop advanced systems for mission critical applications faced a flexibility compromise. They could take advantage of pre-built, pre-qualified systems from a COTS vendor like Abaco, but accept that it would not give them the flexibility they needed – especially in the area of I/O – for their intended application. I/O is often a real challenge when it comes to interfacing with legacy systems, or with the other systems that must be accommodated within the complete solution.

The alternative to compromising on I/O capability was to design, develop, manufacture, test and qualify the system in-house. That provided the required flexibility – but was hugely expensive in terms of NRE, and added significantly to lead times.

A better way

At Abaco, we knew there must be a better way – marrying the time and cost benefits of sourcing a pre-integrated, pre-qualified system with the benefits of the flexibility of in-house development. That’s why, today, we’re announcing perhaps the most exciting new concept we’ve launched in our 30+ year history.

Lightning is a modular, scalable platform, with complete, mission ready systems based on the platform available in a range of form factors depending on the SWaP requirements of the intended application. We design and build the system – whether for mission computing, or graphics/video computing or networking or a host of other applications - from off-the-shelf modules. 

390,625 I/O combinations

At the heart of that inbuilt modularity is the way in which Lightning implements I/O – in such a way that we can simply and cost-effectively accommodate almost any customer requirement. In fact: such is that flexibility that we can deliver no fewer than 390,625 different I/O combinations.

How do we do that? Lightning’s I/O takes advantage of our unique, patented Micro Mezzanine System (MMS). We describe it as “I/O built your way – any way you want it” because it opens up unprecedented configurability in a COTS system. 

At its heart are FPGA-based carrier cards on which up to four ECMs – Electrical Conversion Modules - can be configured. No fewer than 25 ECMs are available (and more are being developed), each delivering a specific I/O capability, that can be mixed and matched any way our customers require. That’s how we arrive at the 390,000+ combinations I mentioned earlier.

What we’re doing with Lightning is to provide our customers with all the functional advantages of an in-house developed system – but at a fraction of the cost and in a fraction of the time. Customers can simply tell us exactly what they want, and we can show them exactly how we can deliver it - cost-effectively and quickly. 

When it comes to the flexibility to do exactly what they want with mission ready systems, we believe our customers will no longer feel the frustration I felt as a kid.

About the Author

Phillip Henson | Product Manager

Phillip Henson is product manager for Abaco’s Lightning platform. With a master’s degree in electrical engineering from Auburn University and currently undertaking an MBA from Vanderbilt University, his career has seen him with assignments at the DoD’s Missile Defense Agency and at Dynetics before joining Abaco in November 2016.

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