Increasing Dynamism in Embedded Technology Sector
Abaco Systems’ embedded computing solutions are on a wide array of US Army systems, including: HIMARS/MLRS rocket system; PATRIOT missile; AN/TPQ-53 radar; AH-64 APACHE; and PREDATOR UAS ground control station. Mark Hutnan, Vice President for Business Development, noted that, for these platforms, Abaco supplies a broad range of solutions, including single-board computers; mission computers; graphics/video subsystems; network switches; and avionics solutions.
Most notable among the international platforms on which Abaco has a presence is the British Army’s SCOUT Specialist Vehicle.
Hutnan commented on trends he is observing for embedded computing solutions within DoD. At the policy level, in January last year the Pentagon released a tri-service memorandum ‘Modular Open Systems Approaches for our Weapons Systems is a Warfighting Imperative.’ “The DoD is reinforcing the commitment to open systems standards for embedded computing and electronics design. The memo specifically calls out existing and emerging open systems standards that fall under the umbrella of Modular Open Systems Approach (MOSA), one of which is [the] C4ISR/EW Modular Open Suite of Standards (CMOSS) […] We are seeing a rapid and intensifying focus on these standards, most notably on CMOSS in the US Army. CMOSS is an initiative led by the US Army Combat Capabilities Development Command, designed to minimise SWaP [size, weight and power consumption] while ensuring the commonality across multiple platforms that will simplify system design and ease interoperability and upgradability,” he explained.
In response, Abaco introduced the SBC3511 3U OpenVPX single-board computer, which is aligned with both CMOSS and Sensor Open Systems Architecture.
Abaco has also seen a transition within DoD from a focus on SWaP to a focus on SWaP-C3 (cost, cooling and compliance), a broader definition of the key requirements for its embedded computing strategy. Hutnan explained that, in the case of cooling, DoD is becoming increasingly conscious of the growing importance of thermal management, ensuring that the high-speed processors on which it is becoming increasingly reliant can operate at maximum speed without the need to throttle them back in response to rising temperatures. Accordingly, Abaco announced additional products, such as the 3U VPX SBC347D single-board computer, which is capable of maintaining 100% of rated maximum processor speed at temperatures as high as 85°C. “This contrasts with other vendors’ offerings that have to reduce clock speed by up to 35% in order to reduce heat – with consequent significant impact on performance,” he emphasised.
Over the next 12 months, his team’s activities will include using its expertise in high-performance embedded computing along with advanced RFSoC/FPGA [Radio Frequency System-on-Chip/Field Programmable Gate Array] capabilities and leading-edge rugged platforms. “We see hypersonic and electronic warfare applications as being key opportunities. Autonomous platforms will remain a key focus for us, leveraging not only our track record in high-performance rugged computing but also our relationship with NVIDIA,” he concluded.