Modern avionics are highly dependent on reliable connectivity — and reliable interconnection systems. As data rates inevitably improve to address greater military requirements, how will the increase impact signal integrity?

In this week’s webinar, High-Speed Data Transmission in Military Aircraft: System Lifeline or Costly Afterthought?, a Tech Briefs reader asked Herb Van Deusen, Development Engineer at the Newark, DE-based manufacturing company Gore Associates:

Herb Van Deusen, Development Engineer at the Newark, DE-based manufacturing company Gore Associates

How critical is signal integrity for mission system performance?

Herb Van Deusen: It’s well known that data rates will continue to increase in order to satisfy the need for more and more data, both in commercial and military systems. We can only expect to see a greater need for higher-speed data, and I think that hardened military-type connectors and different creative cabling assembly routing all create reflections, which can degrade the signal. At these higher data rates, the degraded signal can cause errors.

I think designers feel that as long as they’re using a well-known standard, like Ethernet or Fibre Channel, they get comfortable that it's going to work just like it does in an office environment. However, the aircraft environment has unpredictable sources of electromagnetic interference (EMI). You see punctuations in power supply, which can dramatically affect the receiver on these chips, and the temperature environments of the devices themselves. They all contribute to lower margins and can create problems. Signal integrity is an extremely important aspect of all the interconnects on these high-speed systems.

What best practices have you seen in setting requirements for high-speed data transmission? Share your thoughts below.