Rally 'round technology roadmaps

are a key necessity in the industry. They are an important tool to help set the course of direction through the entire technology supply chain, highlighting performance goals and feature enhancements. Product suppliers use them to give a broad-to-specific direction for future product development. Their customers like to see them so that they can better develop their own level of a product or program rollout. The guidance they provide helps establish which features can be expected and when they might be introduced.

Trade associations and standards development organizations use roadmaps to show the expected direction that their responsible technology is headed. Roadmaps serve as a rallying point for members to focus their future standards’ work and marketing programs. They help users navigate through complicated strategies for product evolution and migration. They set expectations for when certain standards might appear.

Roadmaps are multi-level within a technology and the supply chain, with detail building at each level and the inputs from one level feeding the next. If a roadmap is insufficient or missing at any level, then alternate solutions can be explored to fill gaps.

In the market space, the roadmaps today are primarily driven by serial transfer protocols, which then feed into connector supplier roadmaps. is particularly interested in the roadmaps of Ethernet, , PCI Express, InfiniBand, and other serial fabric protocols. Because these are the foundation to many of the recent standards such as and , their direction is critical to the next milestones on the VITA technology roadmaps (see Figure 1).

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Figure 1: VITA technology roadmap

But before the serial protocols can be incorporated into the VITA technology roadmaps, the transfer speeds must be supported on the roadmaps of VITA technology transceiver and connector suppliers. They must be comfortable with which transfer rates can be supported by their connector technology. The decisions connector suppliers make greatly influence which standards’ work might be needed to support the performance goals and criteria of the technology roadmap. Will existing connectors be usable with tighter design parameters? Will new connector styles be needed? The obvious goal is to remain as backwards compatible as possible, but sometimes a major reset is required. The significance of this can have a huge impact on market direction.

Additional forces come into play; cost, availability, market goals, and strategies all influence what might appear at the next level of a roadmap.

The VITA Standards Organization (), the standards development arm of VITA, is currently undergoing a review and update of key technology roadmaps. A study group has been formed to define and present priorities. The group is collecting input, formulating updates to existing roadmaps, and evaluating the need for additional roadmaps. I am anxiously awaiting the results and work product from the study group, hopefully by early 2017. If you are interested in participating, please give me a shout.

The 2017 edition of Embedded Tech Trends is being held in New Orleans January 23 and 24. Embedded Tech Trends is an industry-wide forum where suppliers of component-, board-, and system-level solutions can meet exclusively with members of relevant industry media to discuss technologies, trends, and products.

The theme for 2017 is “The Voodoo Behind Critical and Embedded Systems.” The focus and emphasis will be on the magic behind the technology and solutions developed for high-performance computing. The agenda will be filled with market and technology presentations from recognized industry thought leaders. For more information, visit the Embedded Tech Trends website at www.embeddedtechtrends.com.

Just before Labor Day weekend, I got word that my dear friend had passed away. Joe and I worked together for several years while at Motorola. He was the president of since its inception. We shared a passion for technology, enjoying the all too infrequent chance to exchange thoughts and stories. Joe was a respected voice for our industry and will be missed. Enjoy you new “wings,” Joe.