VMEbus, a decades-old technology that was supposed to be on its last leg five years ago, is re-positioning itself for a new era as vendors roll out a generation of circuit boards with high-speed fabric interconnects.
VME, long a staple of the defense and industrial segments, is being revitalized by the so-called "switch fabrics," such as Ethernet, InfiniBand, RapidIO, and PCI Express. Switch fabrics—essentially an interconnected mesh of nodes that serve as a path for data—are gaining popularity, particularly among makers of radar systems and image processors, because they can dramatically boost VME system bandwidth. Thus, speeds can potentially be pushed beyond VME's current 320 Mbits/sec to more than 10 Gbits/sec through adoption of the switch fabrics.
"There is a class of customers that can never get enough processing power, never get enough fabric, and never have enough I/O," notes Eran Strod, director of product marketing for Mercury Computer Systems, Inc. "The more we can give them, the better."
Suppliers such as Mercury, SBS Technologies, and VMETRO are feeding that need by rolling out a generation of VME boards that incorporate VXS, an architecture made for high-speed switch fabric operation. Three of this year's new VXS-based boards appear here.
VMETRO 's Phoenix VPF1 quad signal processing card
VMETRO's VPF1 provides dual-independent PowerPC processors and dual-independent Virtex-II Pro FPGAs for processing, as well as two 4x high-speed serial links for VXS fabric connectivity. By combining scalable high-density processing and communications in a single card, the VPF1 is said to be a potential solution for applications that require complex signal processing and high-bandwidth data I/O. Learn more about VPF1 at http://rbi.ims.ca/4402-515.
Mercury's VPA-200 host board
Mercury Computer Systems Inc.'s VPA-200 supports dual PowerPC 7448 processors, RapidIO fabric or PCI express Interconnects on a VXS multi-gigabit backplane. It combines host, signal processing, and I/O carrier functionality into a single slot. Aimed at entry-level embedded military applications, the VPA-200 (the left-most board in the chassis at left) is said to offer up to 5 Gbits/sec with the RapidIO option, as well as 20 GFLOPS of processing power. For more information on Mercury's VPA-200, go to http://rbi.ims.ca/4402-513.
SBS Technologies' single-board computer and InfiniBand switch
SBS Technologies' VXSI 6U PowerPC single-board computer works together with its IB4X-V41 InfiniBand switch to create a 10 Gbit/sec switch fabric interconnect over a VMEbus. The single-board computer includes two independent InfiniBand 4x links and is powered by a PowerPC processor from Freescale. The switch, offered in convection- and conduction-cooled versions, incorporates 18 payload ports and two front-panel copper connectors. Learn more about the single-board computer and switch at http://rbi.ims.ca/4402-514.