Products and Projects
Cooling and VITA 34
The cooling of electronic equipment is increasingly important with powerful (i.e., hot) electronic circuits and systems. The second CoolCON conference held in conjunction with the May VITA Standardization Organization (VSO) meeting is proof of these problems. In the VMEbus world, we are familiar with conduction cooled boards, and the occasional custom-made liquid cooled boards. Draft standard VITA 34 will address cooling issues head-on. As indicated in this column, commercial modular solutions are now available as catalog items.
AIM AFDX cards
AIM (Germany and USA) supplies a range of VMEbus boards and systems primarily for testing on commercial and military aircraft. AIM will provide cards and software for the testing of a special real-time version of Ethernet called Avionics Full-Duplex Switched Ethernet (AFDX). AFDX is the essential communications interconnect for flight management systems and electronic engine controllers on the Airbus A380, which will be the world's largest commercial aircraft once it starts flying next year. The AFDX cards from AIM have guaranteed deterministic delivery of messages, and are equipped with IRIG-B time code processors to time tag the information. AFDX cards from AIM are also available in CompactPCI, PCI, and PMC formats.
Radstone multiprocessor cards
Radstone Technology (UK, USA) announced their G4DSP-XE Quad PowerPC card with AccelerX architecture. The X signifies an extended/enhanced version of the original board. The new version uses four MPC7447 processors (1 GHz each), and provides the massive processing performance needed for applications in radar, sonar, and signal intelligence in a loosely coupled onboard PCI-X network with four independent point-to-point PCI-X buses.
Rittal cooling products
Rittal (Germany) has a wide selection of cooling products for electronic equipment. Products which are of interest to VMEbus technology users, integrators, or resellers are briefly listed here. Cooling of racks/cabinets may be accomplished with air or liquid as the heat transport medium. When liquid should not enter a cabinet, an air-to-water heat exchanger can be mounted to the side of a cabinet, or in-between two cabinets. With legacy computer room air conditioning, cool air is blown under the false floor into the cabinets, and then blown out at the top. With today's concentration of electronics, this is no longer a cooling solution. The devices in the upper parts of the racks would only get air that is too hot to cool their components. The solution from Rittal blows cool air through cutouts in the cabinet sidewall so all components receive cool air. The heated air can be cooled in a closed loop, or blown out of the rack and into the computer room.
If large amounts of heat energy (i.e., dual or quad Itaniums/board at 130W each) have to be quickly removed, then direct liquid cooling is a better option. Rittal offers a cabinet in different sizes with pressurized piping to transport the cooling liquid. The backbone piping is hidden inside one of the vertical beams. Dripless valves are located at a 1U or nU vertical pitch. As boards, blades, or modular server boxes are installed, or if a hot swap of components is performed, their CPU heat exchangers are quick connected or disconnected via flexible hoses to the dripless valves (Figure 1).
Installation time is minimal. The heat exchangers on top of the CPU or video chips are much smaller than their traditional copper or aluminum counterparts used for legacy forced-air cooling. Rittal can also supply the heat exchanger which directly replaces the traditional heat sink. The heat exchanger has liquid flowing through it and is a high-tech device. The tiny interior passages should not corrode, clog, or impede liquid flow. Rittal cooperated with suppliers of dripless valves, heat exchangers, pipes, and hoses. In addition, Rittal supplies hardware and software to closely monitor temperature, pump, and fan operations via direct or web-based control.
Of course, other suppliers also have solutions to thermal problems. However, Rittal offers an extremely wide variety of standard catalog items for customizing an individual installation. This includes recooling units where heat is dissipated through pipes buried in the ground outside of a building. This type of liquid cooled system was installed at the Max Planck Institute in Germany more than a year ago, with a reported savings of 30 to 60 percent in the electric energy required for cooling, and about a 30 percent space/volume savings. There was also a considerable noise reduction inside their computer room.
SBS (USA and Germany) released another cost-effective bus-to-bus adapter. This family of adapters enables data transfers between different bus architectures at up to 70 MBps. Supported bus architectures are VME64x, PCI, PMC, and CompactPCI. Remote operation of (embedded) VMEbus systems from other systems is supported through memory mapping. Dynamic byte swapping between big endian and little endian architectures, and scatter/gather operations for up to a 16 MB data block are also supported.
EWS processor board
EWS (Germany) offers the TVME8240 VMEbus CPU board using an MPC8240 PowerPC processor that is equipped with sockets for up to four IndustryPack (IP) modules with front panel I/O. The TVME8300 uses an MPC8245 processor, has sockets for up to four IP mezzanine modules, and rear I/O.
Boards and Solutions 2004
This one-day conference and exhibition was held on June 23 in Duesseldorf, and on June 30 in Munich. These were the second and third events held in Germany since the conference was first held in 2003.
Embedded in Munich, and electronica 2004
Embedded in Munich will be co-located with electronica 2004 from November 9-12, 2004. A special track on VMEbus Renaissance is planned for this event. Sponsorships and speaking slots are still available.
VMETRO and SKY Computers alliance
VMETRO (Norway) and SKY Computers (SA) announced an alliance to provide complete solutions to customers. Part of this cooperation is the integration of the SKY Thunderbolt product family, and the VMETRO high-speed data recorder product family. This will create a validated solution for applications in surveillance, signal intelligence, semiconductors, and medical imaging. The VMETRO products are marketed in many countries through their own local VSYSTEMS sales organization.
VMEbus-based SBC sales
In a recent survey of SBC suppliers in Germany, 22 companies were selling VMEbus-based boards into the open market.