Embedded Tech Trends 2020 Wrapup

In January, Embedded Tech Trends 2020 was held in Atlanta, Georgia at the Georgia Tech Hotel and Conference Center in midtown Atlanta, home of Georgia Tech University.

The theme for 2020 was “Inventing! Con­necting! Inspiring! Thriving!” The presenters were encouraged to weave this theme into their presentations.

Embedded Tech Trends is a small but extremely effective forum where suppliers of components, boards, and system-level solutions can meet exclusively with members of relevant industry media to discuss technologies, trends, and products.

The following is a synopsis of the presentations by industry experts:

Blind Mate Optical Transceivers for the VPX Backplane

By Arlen Martin, Director, Product Line Marketing, Reflex Photonics

Arlen starts off this year’s event with a review of the selection of optical options available for use in a backplane-based system. The many options are right in line with this year’s theme, as this area of technology has been experiencing a lot of innovation. Some of the work done is now making it possible to build configurations from basic optical connections through a backplane to a full optical mesh that links all plug-in cards for more complicated network topologies. Connector suppliers have really stepped up the game in innovation.

Transformation & Transition: How Complexity is Driving Change in the Business of Supplying the DoD

By Shan Morgan, President, Elma Electronic

The embedded computing industry is in a state of flux as prime contractors and subtier suppliers try to address the demands of the changing defense market. The increasing complexity of solutions and cost pressures driven by modern electronic warfare (EW) and network-centric systems has increased the need for technology advancements in multicore processing, FPGAs, wireless, and cloud computing, putting a competitive strain on companies’ existing resources and capabilities. The challenge for companies will be to position their value in the vertical between being a full-service system platform provider or focusing on being a provider of niche products/services. Shan covers many of the key issues keeping suppliers up at night.

Let’s Get Edgy: Challenges in AI processing for Defense and Aerospace Applications

By Devon Yeblonski, Principal Product Manager, Sensor Processing, Mercury Systems

The requirements for computing at the tactical edge (for example, on an unmanned aerial vehicle operating in-theater) are increasing at rates never seen before due to new applications, especially artificial intelligence (AI). But AI typically demands massive computing power and access to a network to offload data to the cloud for processing, neither of which are typically available in theater. Devon discusses these challenges and proposes some innovative solutions.

How Secure are Our Satellites?

By Richard Jaenicke, Green Hills Software

Satellites are part of critical infrastructure for almost every facet of our lives, from agriculture and weather prediction to financial transactions and power grids. Until recently, satellites were designed for survivability and safety. With an increase in threat vectors, there is a shift to designing for resilience and security. Richard explores our dependencies on satellites, their vulnerabilities, and the options for making them more resilient.

Inventing Actionable Intelligence

By Nigel Forrester, Technical Product Marketing, Concurrent Technologies

Due to increasing use and availability of sensors, the amount of data that we collect across all type of applications is growing exponentially. We have some very comprehensive traditional methods to interpret the data but these methods are not keeping up. AI provides a different insight that allows us to quickly detect and analyze data at the point of interest. Nigel uses this presentation to discuss specific examples and then highlights technology that can be part of the solution.

SOSA VPX Power: VITA 62 & VITA 46.11

By Jerry Hovdestad, Orbit Power Group, Behlman Electronics

As we march along the technology curve, the need for more power gets greater with each step. VPX is no exception, as its demands are pushing up to 1,000 W in a 3U slot and 1,800 W in a 6U slot. VITA 62 is addressing the challenge by defining standards that make power supplies more intelligent. Jerry – who is deeply involved with the development of VITA 62 modular power-supply standards – gives us an update on what is happening to address today’s design challenges in power supplies.

SOSA Consortium Update: Progress and Outlook

By Rodger Hosking, Vice President and Cofounder, Pentek

The SOSA (Sensor Open Systems Architecture) Consortium evolved to develop a common open standards and business models for designing, building, and deploying hardware, software, and firmware components of new military electronic systems. SOSA contributing members are the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), as well as key representatives from industry and universities. Objectives include vendor interoperability, lower procurement costs, easier new technology upgrades, quicker reaction to new requirements, and longer life cycles.

Rodger talks about the convergence of initiatives of the services, objectives of the key working groups, interactions with existing standards organizations including VITA, and projected milestones for 2020.

Small is Beautiful: Emerging Design Trends/Requirements for Rugged Small Form Factor

By Ivan Straznicky, Technical Fellow, Curtiss-Wright

Today, small-form-factor (SFF) embedded computing hardware for rugged markets such as aerospace and defense is a “Wild West” of commercial standards and ruggedized packaging, with some attempts at standardization in organizations like VITA. Ivan outlines technology, use case, and voice-of-customer trends that help determine emerging rugged SFF requirements.

Optical Communication – Don’t Miss the 25 GBPS

By Patrick Mechin, CEO, TECHWAY

High-speed optical communications are key challenges to manage huge amounts of data from applications. As FPGA technology is moving to higher-speed serial, optical technology drives toward higher speeds and higher densities. Patrick presents ways to address the 25 Gbps challenge utilizing VITA standards.

Additive Manufacturing

By Adam Butler, Director, Mission Assurance, Wakefield-Vette

Additive manufacturing, more commonly known as 3D printing, has been used in prototyping for several years but is now becoming a preferred method for some manufacturing. Adam uses the example of VITA 48 cooling techniques to highlight the benefits of additive manufacturing in producing complex chassis and cooling structures.

Supply Chain Security – A Real Life Scenario

By Rob Persons, Sr. Sales Architect, SMART Embedded Computing

Rob explores real world challenges of responding to a key customer’s requirements to secure critical commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) computing equipment in a short period of time and go beyond simply supplying those products in a U.S. manufacturing facility but to also begin to look at securing components for those product. Rob highlights key decisions made, discusses next steps in designing a new product to improve supply-chain security, and examines the challenges faced during the process.

High-Performance COTS Optical Interconnects for Military and Aerospace Applications

By Kevin Burt, Samtec

Ruggedized FireFly on-board optical modules are widely used in mil/aero applications. Like others in the industry, FireFly modules have a microcontroller and the necessary firmware to communicate with the system ASIC, manage startup procedures, and ensure successful ongoing operations. To prevent an optical module being compromised in the field, Samtec has developed a Secure Firmware feature for its FireFly on-board optical modules. Kevin explores intelligent connector systems.

The COTS2 Movement and What Approaches Will Successfully Address It

By Noah Donaldson, CTO, Annapolis Micro Systems

Noah introduces the concept of COTS2, focused on the new wave of initiatives driving the use of commercial products. His discussion goes into how we can take advantage of COTS2 by developing hardware products that are independent of applications and applications that are independent of hardware products.

AI in Defense, Industrial and Space Applications

By Emil Kheyfets, Aitech Defense Systems

Emil presents us with an overview of the next-level COTS movement that uses openness and standards to increase competition and break vendor lock; he also covers what business models and approaches will be well-positioned for success in this environment.

Acceleration options for AI and HPEC

By Dr. Mohamed Bergach, Kontron

AI is being used everywhere: Dr. Bergach presents technologies used to make AI a reality today. His presentation compares some of the most popular approaches to AI processing and leaves us with a glimpse into what is yet to come.

Evolving Interconnect Standards – Keeping Pace with the Embedded Computing Industry

By Michael Walmsley, Global Product Management, TE Connectivity

Rapidly emerging technologies and trends in the embedded computing industry are driving the development of next-generation interconnects. Speed, density, and power handling are critical for new designs and the requirement for standardized solutions has never been more prevalent. Mike discusses those trends and how next-generation interconnects are meeting the industry needs. He shows the status of existing and emerging connector standards to support technology advances, discusses how we can accelerate standards development and industry adoption, and gives some insight into what new challenges lie ahead.

Severe Environment Testing

By Stephen Brutscher, Samtec

Severe Environment Testing (SET) is a new Samtec initiative to test products beyond typical industry standards and specifications. Driven by demands for high-functioning COTS interconnects, SET has proven beneficial in providing performance confidence. Stephen explains what SET is and how it benefits applications in our industry.

Chassis Management Inspired by MOSA – SOSA – HOST – VITA

By Ken Grob, Elma Electronic

Chassis management has the key responsibility of keeping computer systems healthy. Ken gives us a brief update on chassis-management basics for rugged systems with a look at requirements and capabilities driven by members of SOSA. He shares the results of recent interoperability demonstrations and looks at how those results drive the next steps for the industry.

The End of Moore’s Law? High Performance ICs Through Modular Chip Design

By Tom Smelker, VP & General Manager, Mercury Systems

Balancing the need for commercial silicon innovation for the digital-modernization effort with the need for a trusted and secure supply chain, the DoD struggles to quickly and cost-effectively deploy next-generation sensor processing systems. For the first time, with 2.5D heterogeneous integration of advanced silicon and chiplet technology, open system architecture at chipscale can deliver trusted, high-density RF, digital, and mixed-signal devices to the computing edge of key mission areas such as radar; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR); weapons; and satellite communications. Tom provides an overview of chiplet technology and how it can be adapted for aerospace and defense applications.

Product Pruning to Increase Revenue AND Profitability

By Ethan Plotkin, CEO, GDCA

Who would imagine that getting rid of products can lead to increased revenue and profitability? Too often companies hold on to a product or product line way too long, sustainment costs rapidly increase, and the product soon becomes a burden to the bottom line. Ethan reminds us that new behaviors that focus on proper product pruning can keep your product lines thriving.

Module Standards in Comparison – Technical Possibilities and Limitations of Plug-on Boards

By Hendrik Thiel, HEITEC

Hendrik provides an overview of the most popular standards for plug-in boards in the embedded computing market. He highlights the technical advantages of the Qseven, SMARC, and COMe standards regarding interface variety, performance, power consumption, and the preferred application of the different modules. A market overview outlines the current availability of the standards on the market and is supplemented by a split between x86 and ARM architecture. In addition, the features and advantages of the new COM-HPC standard are discussed, illustrating the future possibilities with plug-on boards.

SOSA and its Potential to Drive Change in the Embedded Systems Market

By Mark Littlefield, Vertical Product Manager, Defense, Kontron America

The role of SOSA in driving usage of open standards in the military and aerospace markets has been widely discussed. However, there is great potential to have a positive impact across a much broader range of the embedded systems market. Mark presents many of the direct and indirect benefits to the entire VPX market.

Connecting with VITA 66.5

By Xavier Marchand, Interface Concept

VPX has pioneered the use of optical interconnect technology in backplane-based architectures. Now VITA 66.5 is taking the technology to the next level. Xavier goes through the highlights of VITA 66.5, how it fits in the scheme of VPX connectivity, and how it substantially boosts the performance of VPX while making it more flexible and simpler.

Standard Interfaces and the Benefits of Heterogeneous System Architectures

By Jacob Sealander, Chief Architect, Curtiss-Wright

Open Standards create the common infrastructure and rules of the road that enable innovative and optimized approaches. For the OpenVPX market this is seen in the rise of heterogeneous computing and applications that are well served by a flexible mix of computing technologies. Heterogeneous computing is important for supporting DoD’s Third Offset strategy and for getting continually improved technology to the field faster. The combination of Third Offset strategy goals and applications like machine learning will result in greater man-machine teaming/autonomy.

What’s more, heterogeneous computing is important for addressing the never-ending quest for better size, weight, power, and cost (SWaP-C) versus performance. Jacob presents how embracing open standards and heterogeneous architectures enables COTS vendors and customers to resist the allure of proprietary systems, with their promises that often turn into shackles.

OK, try it now…

By Tram Chase, SimVentions

The VPX family of standards is very complex, numbering in several thousands of pages in total. To grasp the content is extremely difficult at best. Taking a traditional document-centric approach to understanding the content is overwhelming. Tram presents a data-centric approach that has the potential to be a game changer for designing with VPX technology.

The Personal Part of Developing Technical Standards

By Paul Mesibov, Pentek

The future of technology is being defined – don’t get caught on the side lines. So much in the embedded industry changes fast – more compact and powerful solutions, along with new industrywide open standards. Industry contributions to these changes are imperative, as collectively, the future of technology is in all of our hands. We support the warfighters and soldiers and arm them with the electronic tools they need for mission success. Paul discusses how industry, government, suppliers, and competitors can successfully join their unique perspectives together to create new technology and standards for all. Experiences with VITA and SOSA working groups are highlighted; top tips for getting your voice heard and successfully moving forward in the standards definition process is discussed.

OpenVPX Advancements

By Greg Rocco, MIT Lincoln Laboratory

OpenVPX is a living standard quickly adapting to the needs of the market. Greg Rocco is the father of OpenVPX: His open VPX Tutorial is the beginning point for anyone new to the VPX concept and is a handy reference source for anyone designing with VPX. He reviews the latest enhancements and changes to OpenVPX.

All of these presentations, with video, are posted at www.EmbeddedTechTrends.com. It is highly recommended that you view the videos to get the maximum information.