Visions of Sugar Plums!

We have 20 sponsors lined up for the 2019 edition of to be held at The Andaz in San Diego, California on January 28 and 29. Embedded Tech is an industry-wide forum where suppliers of component, board and system level solutions meet exclusively with members of relevant industry media to discuss technologies, trends, and products.

The theme for 2019 is “The Future is Now.” With all of the work that has been done with standards related to , FMC, and other technologies, we are finally starting to see the fruits of the labor in the form of significant design wins and contract awards. The technology of the future that we have all been working on so hard is here now. I will have a complete write-up summarizing the presentations in the next edition of .

A tremendous amount of energy spent in 2018 was used in lining up three different programs from three U.S. Departments of Defense () services. These programs have come together with a common objective to solve their respective acquisition problems with an agreed upon, open architecture standard. The Navy’s Hardware Open Systems Technologies () standard, the Army’s Modular Open Suite of Standards () initiative, and the Air Force’s Sensor Open System Architecture (SOSA), have all converged under the SOSA Consortium which is maintained by The . We have talked about this in the past, but 2018 saw a lot of intense activity from the various working groups in their quest to deliver a set of standards and conformance requirements. Weekly conference calls and bi-monthly face-to-face meetings were well attended by members representing all facets of the ecosystem. There is still a lot of work ahead, but the membership list is growing each month and there is planning for imminent interoperability workshops to demonstrate progress. The leadership of the teams is pushing hard to keep on schedule and to not stray from the commitment to using open architecture standards.

Looking a bit into my crystal ball, I am seeing a lot of effort around pushing the performance level to the next step with standards based on serial switched fabric technology. Ethernet, PCI Express, and InfiniBand standards bodies have all released their 25 Gbps standards. Now VITA is working to update related standards to incorporate connector technology to support the faster speeds. Check out my article on page 10 on “VITA’s switched fabrics roadmap” for some insight into what to expect. VITA is busy updating our roadmaps and will roll out new versions at Embedded Tech Trends.

Our single biggest design challenge remains dealing with signal integrity issues at these high signal speeds. Copper is at its limit even though the brilliant engineers in our industry continue to squeeze a bit more out each year. We are about to hit a wall forcing more effort into solutions based on optical technology. We have incorporated an increasing amount of optical interconnectivity into VPX through the optical standards, but this is only the first step towards eventual incorporation of optical links in backplanes.

Another area of concern under discussion within the industry is the need for even smaller form factor boards capable of withstanding the rugged environments of the critical embedded computing industry. These form factors must also be capable of maintaining the current roadmap for performance and I/O connectivity. We are going to have to think hard about what innovation is needed to address this issue.

With a strong business environment predicted for 2019, we should be in for an interesting year.

Christmas is coming and it’s time to start thinking about gifts! I’ve reached the point in my life where I can get by with sending checks to the kids and grandchildren, so I spend minimal time shopping for gifts. I can turn more of my focus on MY Christmas list. Being a gadget guy and lured by the light of bright shiny new gadgets, I’m pretty easy. But my tastes have gotten a bit more expensive.

Top of the list this year is a new iPad Pro with the Apple pen and keyboard, a DJI Mavic 2 Pro drone for my flying and photography itch, a Samsung Q9F QLED TV for my living room so I can display some of the 75,000+ photos and videos I have stored in Dropbox, and lastly, a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV so I can step up to the next level of photography. It’s great to have the kids out of college!

Here’s wishing everyone a great holiday season and a very happy new year!