Will New Tech Markets Prompt Increased Growth for VPX?



The 2019 fiscal year base budget for the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) is slightly larger at $597.1 billion. With little change in the budget, perhaps 2019 will see sustained revenues within markets that serve the U.S. military.

It’s no surprise that the military is by far the largest market for VME and VPX, although they serve both railway and industrial automation sectors. You would think the overall embedded tech trend of “smaller is better” would have VPX sales climbing faster, but global VPX revenue is growing slower than anticipated. The lifecycles of military equipment are some of the longest you will see in any market. According to IHS Markit, the year 2016 saw over $300M in global VME sales, as compared to VPX revenues of $125M for the same year.

180807-N-DE005-050 DAHLGREN, Va. (Aug. 7, 2018) The Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) Sly Fox Mission 23 team in action while demonstrating ARTEMIS—Autonomous Remote Tactical Engagement Multi-Domain Intelligence Swarm—capabilities. Over the past six months, the team used artificial intelligence and machine learning to develop unmanned vehicle swarms that can counteract potential threats of swarming unmanned systems. The Sly Fox program is an NSWCDD Naval Innovative Science and Engineering (NISE) funded rapid prototyping program intended to develop the science and engineering workforce—mostly junior scientists and engineers—while applying their talents to known technology gaps. NISE is part of National Defense Authorization Act Section 219 legislation, allowing warfare centers and research labs to apply money invested in their organizations to research, engineering and technology. NISE efforts have provided breakthrough research and have been responsible for maturation and transition of technology to the warfighter and programs of record. (U.S. Navy photo by John Joyce/Released)

We have seen significant gains in bandwidth and functionality for future embedded computing systems with the release of Gen 5 VPX last year, with data rates approaching 25 Gbaud, supported by 100G Ethernet and InfiniBand Enhanced Data Rates (EDR). Are newer technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), most likely to be supported on the newer platform, VPX? One example is an extremely fast GPU supported in VPX, for which products have been recently released. VPX will see organic growth here. However, migrating designs from VME to VPX within the largest market, the military, is like turning the Titanic around.

In addition to new technologies making their way into VME and VPX, the world’s largest defense budget was slightly increased for 2018 when President Trump sent Congress a proposed budget request of $574.5 billion in the base budget. The 2019 fiscal year base budget for the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) is slightly larger at $597.1 billion. With little change in the budget, perhaps 2019 will see sustained revenues within markets that serve the U.S. military.


Lynnette Reese is Editor-in-Chief, Embedded Intel Solutions and Embedded Systems Engineering, and has been working in various roles as an electrical engineer for over two decades.

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