The task-specific nature of an embedded system application typically defines a narrow scope of performance requirements. But the range of options for achieving those requirements are broad — from multicore processors and rugged single board computers (SBCs) to I/O devices and the bus systems that tie everything together. And the choices to be made are critical in their impact on cost, on performance efficiency in computeintensive operations, and on the ability to function reliably in hot, cold, dusty or wet environments.

The following look at processor, board, software and interface capabilities built to the CompactPCI (CPCI) and CPCI Express (CPCIe) standards offers some insights into the opportunities and tradeoffs — in terms of processing power, functionality, speed and compatibility — as well as the ability to withstand demanding processes in extreme application environments.

Building on the CPCI Standard

Figure A. This SBC uses dual-core processors and soldered components to satisfy high throughput requirements in rugged environment applications with temperature ratings from -40°C to +60°C (-40°F to +140°F).
Although its roots lie in the telecom industry, CPCI and the subsequent CPCIe standard have found their way into a diverse set of applications spanning industrial, military, and medical industry sectors.

From the beginning, the compact footprint of 3U CPCI boards offered obvious space-saving advantages for more streamlined control system packaging in space-constrained embedded system applications. Today's availability of powerful SBCs built on the highspeed serial links of CPCIe, in that same compact 3U form factor, enables users to further relieve data bottlenecks, even within complex and demanding communications, graphics or digital/analog signal processing applications.

A significant advantage of the CPCIe bus is that it uses full-duplex, point-topoint high-speed serial link connections instead of forcing all data through a common parallel bus connection. For rugged performance, the 3U CPCI form factor offers a robust solution with the excellent shock and vibration characteristics of the Eurocard design and a highdensity pin-and-socket connector that provides good mechanical stability.