Salute to VMEbus!

This October we celebrated the 40th anniversary of the introduction of VMEbus! Who would have thought with the announcement on October 21, 1981, of VMEbus that we would see it have such an impact on the industry forty years later?

In a newly released market report on key VITA technologies, “The world market for VITA standard-based boards and systems – 2021 edition,” VMEbus is still demonstrating a 2.8% growth in boards revenue and holding stable at 1.7% growth in systems revenue. Granted, the unit shipments continue to decline but the rising cost in supporting products is leading growth in overall revenue. The handful of existing merchant suppliers continue to release new products, helping to extend the useful life of existing platforms and keeping VMEbus a significant factor in critical embedded computing. Very few of the original VMEbus suppliers still exist under their company names of 1981, but many are still around as divisions and subsidiaries of today’s suppliers as the critical embedded computing industry continues to evolve.

VMEbus has been a key influence in the tremendous advancement of open standards, literally the “poster child” for the open standards model. Rarely is a conversation on modular open system architectures held without mentioning VMEbus. When VITA members announced VPX in 2005, the proposed standard even included a way to incorporate VMEbus into a VPX system!

Most recently VMEbus’ influence was demonstrated in the recent public release of the modular open standard architecture defined under the SOSA Technical Standard 1.0, with VITA’s VPX standards a key component. VMEbus pioneered much of the work in the modular open systems approach (MOSA), which paved the way for efforts like those undertaken by SOSA. The market awareness, ecosystem development, and policies established by VMEbus efforts are the foundation of many of the initiatives throughout the critical embedded computing industry today.

My career has centered around VMEbus. I first became aware of VMEbus when I was hired into Motorola Microsystems in 1984 as one of a team of 15 focused on selling and promoting this new technology. Four years later, I moved into a product marketing position, getting even more involved in setting the direction of VMEbus. Over the years, I held various roles from marketing to business strategy at what eventually came to be known as the Motorola Computer Group, but all of them involved VMEbus. After leaving Motorola in 2004, I began working with VITA in a marketing capacity, eventually becoming the executive director in 2014.

This publication started as VMEbus Systems in 1985. The inaugural issue featured a 14-page article on VMEbus, tagging it as the 32-bit architecture for the future. Little did the authors of that lengthy article, John Black and Shlomo Prital, envision VMEbus having such a long future! I became involved with Open Systems Media in 2005 working on VMEbus Systems, later renamed to VITA Technologies. VMEbus articles have filled the pages of the magazines since the first edition in 1985 (Figure 1).

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Figure 1 | The first issue of VMEbus Systems, published in 1985.

Those that have been involved in the VMEbus industry should be very proud of their contributions. The influence of VMEbus has changed the arc of open standards in a positive direction. I am sure that the work will continue to have an impact for many more years to come.

Stay healthy, stay safe.