VPX systems offer tremendous performance for the Mil/Aero market, including naval, airborne, and ground-based computing systems. The architecture provides an unprecedented combination of bandwidth, user IO, and rugged design, in both a 3U and 6U Eurocard format. The new OpenVPX initiative has opened up new definitions for VPX system interoperability, including defined module profiles, slot profiles, backplane & chassis configurations, secondary expansion fabrics and control planes, and higher speed fabric options.

Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR)

C4ISR embedded computing systems have certain general needs, both today and continuing into the future. These include:

  • Mission-critical reliability — For Mil/Aero applications, system failures can cost lives.
  • Higher bandwidth — Weapon and intelligence gathering platforms are using more intensive digital signal processing for gathering, relaying, and processing data.
  • Rugged design — Platforms need to survive the shock, vibration, and effects in aircraft, ground, and sea based applications.
  • Stable architecture, less risk — Platforms need to last many years, even decades. Vendor support is also critical.
  • Performance density — As space restrictions get tighter, the system needs options for small form factors while retaining high performance.

Figure 1. Figure 1a shows a standard 6U 5-slot VPX backplane and 1b shows a simple side-view diagram of how the J0-J6 connectors are used.
VPX, and later OpenVPX, were collaboratively created within VITA (VME International Trade Association) by dozens of experts in the military/aerospace community. Based on the rugged Eurocard format like VME and CompactPCI, VPX comes in both 3U and 6U standard board sizes with typically 1.0" pitch (0.80" and 1.2" pitch are also possible). VPX uses a high-speed Multi-Gig connector and offers plenty of IO in a rugged, open standard architecture. With dozens of vendors and some backwards compatibility options to VME, the architecture is stable and will be supported for years to come.

Embedded Technology Magazine

This article first appeared in the September, 2010 issue of Embedded Technology Magazine.

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