System Architects Find Diverse Options with VITA Standards



2017 saw open platforms continuing their magnetic pull on programs

Open System Architectures (OSAs) for software and hardware are in more demand than ever before, with more programs moving to an open platform each year. The more complex that computing becomes, the greater the interest in starting from a well-established software and hardware platform. No one solution solves all of the problems, so system architects appreciate having multiple options to choose from when designing systems. As a result, the interest in developing and maintaining open standards continues to grow, which translates into more opportunity for standards development organizations such as VITA.

On top of that, VITA has several existing standards that are due for 5- and 10-year reviews, adding even more activity to our plate. Currently VITA has in excess of 20 working groups in various stages of standards development.

…the interest in developing and maintaining open standards continues to grow which translates into more opportunity for standards development organization such as VITA.

VPX Expands
VPX is the focal point of many of the VITA working group efforts. This popular critical embedded computing architecture has expanded to cover many additional use cases. As the technology has matured, users are starting to request additional capabilities that are being added to the original foundation of standards in the form of ancillary standards. As they are due for 5- and 10-year reviews, the original standards are also being updated where required.

Programs continue to transition from research and development phases to deployment. VITA members are reporting production orders on programs; as well as being busy with customers who are finishing up designs and with emerging opportunities.

The OpenVPX architectural framework standard (ANSI/VITA 65) is a living document that is continuously being updated with new profile information. A major update was released in 2017 that added more profiles and capability to VPX. The working group is already busy with the next release. In addition to adding profiles, there is an effort to trim profiles that were in earlier editions that did not gain traction in the market. The user community is leading a number of efforts that focus the profiles on specific platform requirements. Various defense department initiatives embracing the VPX standards are working together to develop the most robust standards possible for their platforms. More about this will be presented at Embedded TechTrends (www.embeddedtechtrends.com/).

Zeroing in on VNX Use Cases
VNX is a small form factor that is loosely based on VPX for the electrical interconnection but in a smaller, more rugged package for mobile applications such as those found in the U.S. Army VICTORY program. The VITA 74 specification had been in VITA Draft Standard for Trial Use status since the fall of 2012. The working group was able to bring the baseline standard to the full ANSI/VITA accreditation level at the close of 2017. Final documents are available from VITA. Now the working group is shifting its efforts to a series of dot standards that address particular use cases of VNX.

On to the Finish Line: FMC+
The VITA 57.4 FMC+ standard extends the original VITA 57.1 FMC standard by specifying two new connectors that enable additional gigabit transceiver interfaces that run at up to 28 Gbps and eventually to 32 Gbps. It also describes FMC+ I/O modules and introduces an electro-mechanical standard that creates a low overhead protocol bridge between the front panel I/O, on the mezzanine module, and an FPGA processing device on the carrier card that accepts the mezzanine module. The working group has been scrambling to complete the draft document and get it into the final approval process as soon as possible. Demand for the standard is putting a lot of pressure on the working group as they near the finish line. We expect a final approved document near the end of the first quarter of 2018.

Open Doors, More Work
Additional work is underway for serial front panel data ports, cooling technologies, and component reliability. The VITA standards organization also has study groups researching future connector technologies, optical interconnections, and other form factors that can address future performance and reliability needs for critical embedded computing.

VITA’s doors are open to new opportunities to shepherd new concepts through the collaborative development and approval process.


Jerry Gipper is the executive director of VITA (VITA.com), a leading developer of open standards for the critical and intelligent embedded computing industry, where he is responsible for the management of the organization. He is also the editorial director of VITA Technologies, a publication that covers the latest VITA standards, industry-leading products, and the technologies that drive today’s market. With over 30 years of experience in the marketing of VITA technologies such as VMEbus, VPX, PMC, and more, he is recognized as an industry authority in embedded board, system, and software technology.

Jerry spent 23 years at the Motorola Computer Group where he was involved with product marketing, sales, business development, and strategic planning. Jerry earned his BS in Computer Engineering at Iowa State University and his MS in Computer Engineering at San Jose State University.

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