When you think of bus architectures that accommodate switched fabrics for military applications, VPX usually comes to mind. However, VPX isn’t necessarily the only choice for mil-aero. During one of today’s presentations at Embedded Tech Trends, Justin Moll, director of marketing for Las Vegas-based VadaTech which specializes in industrial and rugged computing products in the MicroTCA form factor, highlighted some of the reasons why MicroTCA is poised to take on VPX for mil-aero applications.

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The architecture has a number of benefits for any application such as offering the first 100G line card (via the front panel) in the industry, PCIe Gen 3 and 40 GbE across the backplane available (the spec is in draft, as noted in his presentation). He also named these reasons why embedded designers may want to consider MicroTCA over VPX for a mil-aero application:

1) Very high performance. MicroTCA is used across industries including telecom, which particularly drives the technology forward with its very high speed requirements and functionality.

2) Cost. The wide range of industries employing MicroTCA such as telecom means better economies of scale and lower cost. The connector cost is lower and lead times are also improved.

3) A more diverse ecosystem. MicroTCA’s adoption in multiple markets gives designers a wide selection of products, features, and price points to choose from.

4) Inherent platform management.  System management and failover are important elements engrained in the MicroTCA specification. 

5) It’s rugged! The architecture features sub-specifications for rugged design, with multiple ruggedization classes.  The MicroTCA connector has been through the same thorough testing as VPX, and the architecture offers a smaller form factor than VPX.

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During my conversation with Justin, he also mentioned how MicroTCA is able to use multiple fabrics in the same system. “Because MicroTCA has dedicated ports for the different types of fabrics, the interoperability is inherent in the specification.”

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