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Rugged Ethernet Switch Boards Blend Fabric and Network Roles

Ethernet is becoming entrenched as a favorite interconnect fabric in compute-intensive applications like sonar, radar or any application that networks sensor arrays together.

JEFF CHILD, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

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At one time Ethernet was viewed as just a pure networking solution for command and control systems in the military. Today Ethernet is gaining traction in numerous other military applications as an interconnect fabric in compute-intensive applications. Ethernet could arguably be called the military’s favorite interconnect fabric in compute-intensive applications like sonar, radar or any application that networks sensor arrays together. Military system designers can leverage the marriage of Ethernet with embedded computing form factors like OpenVPX, VME, VXS, Compact PCI Serial, XMC and PMC.

For its part, OpenVPX is emerging as the newest choice for Ethernet-based switched networking in rugged, harsh environment military applications. OpenVPX offers the advantage of high-performance computing in limited size, weight and power platforms where extreme ruggedness and harsh environment operation are required—everything from military combat vehicle systems to UAVs to tactical aircraft avionics.

As 10 Gbit Ethernet networking became mainstream in the commercial world, the military has tapped it as a high-speed data transfer mechanism for demanding military sensor interfacing and processing The large bandwidth and exceptional scalability of the 10 Gbit Ethernet network enables systems developers to seamlessly scale up with increasing channel count and bandwidth. It offers a standards-based server solution that takes advantage of processing power gain and market pressures for driving down processing costs. The 10 Gbit Ethernet network simplifies system architecture and provides easy partitioning of data acquisition and data processing, by separating the sensitive analog mixed signal front end from the digital back end.

Use of Ethernet allows simplified acquisition devices to be placed near the antenna that pipes the data to processing platforms in a sheltered location. Virtually limitless synchronized scalability is possible by simply adding fibers for additional 10 Gbit Ethernet links. A 10 Gbit Ethernet system also handles real-time bandwidth in excess of GHz on a continuous and sustained basis. There’s also a seamless increase of processing power in the future for providing feature upgrade without re-architecting the entire system.

In an example of board-level Ethernet switch technology used in the military, Curtiss-Wright Controls has received a contract from Sechan Electronics to provide its rugged VME DMV-682 Gigabit Ethernet Switch card for use in the Ground Based Operational Surveillance System (G-BOSS) Electronics Payload Interface Box (EPIB) for the U.S. Marine Corps. The G-BOSS (Figure 1) surveillance system comprises a self-erecting, trailer-mounted tower that provides a stable, elevated platform for its “beyond the fence” sensor suite and communication devices. G-BOSS is an expeditionary, camera-oriented tool that provides a 24-hour day/night detection, tracking and recording capability to disrupt insurgent emplacement and employment of improvised explosive devices (IEDs).  

Figure 1
G-BOSS is a tower-mounted, camera-oriented tool that provides a 24-hour day/night detection, tracking and recording capability to disrupt insurgent emplacement and employment of improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

 

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