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First SBC in new military/aerospace form-factor runs Linux

Oct 26, 2006 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 4 views

The first SBC (single-board computer) based on a new military/aerospace form-factor standard is now shipping, and runs Linux 2.6, according to distributor Mistral Solutions. The company says it is shipping Curtiss Wright Controls's (CWC's) VPX6-185, a PowerPC board based on the VPX (VITA 46) standard.

(Click for very slightly larger view of VPX6-185)

VPX, also known as VITA 46

“VITA 46” board
(Source: VITA)

VPX, also known as “VITA 46,” appears to be the 46th specification defined by VITA (VME Industry Trade Association), which describes itself as an incorporated, non-profit organization comprised of companies involved with real-time, modular, embedded computing systems. VITA's first specification, “VITA 1,” defined the original VME (Versa Module Eurocard) bus more than 25 years ago.

VITA says VPX was designed by and for aerospace and defense companies to implement updated connector technology, compared to VMEbus, and to embrace serial fabrics and other modern bus technologies, while still supporting traditional parallel VMEbus connectivity through “bridging schemes,” assuring a migration path.

CWC's VPX6-185

Mistral describes CWC's VPX6-185 as combining high-performance with advanced I/O capabilities such as PCI Express and RapidIO, to provide a highly capable processing platform for a wide range of embedded military/aerospace applications, including high-performance graphics, networking, and data acquisition.

The VPX6-185 is based on a Freescale MPC8641-series processor with a single or dual e600 cores clocked to 1.5GHz. It has dual 64-bit memory controllers, and supports up to 2GB of DDR2 266 SDRAM with ECC. The board also has 512MB of flash with “write protection.”

Additional touted specs include:

  • VPX connectors include an ESD (electro-static discharge) mechanism
    • Enables safe handling “in flight-line”

  • Lots of I/O
    • “Full” master/slave VME64 interface
    • 3 x gigabit Ethernet ports
    • 6 x serial I/O channels
    • 2 x full MIL-STD-1553 channels
    • 2 x SATA 1.0 ports
    • 16 x discrete LVTTL I/O signals

  • 2 x PMC/XMC sites
    • parallel PCI and PCI Express
    • Conform to the VITA 42.3 standard

  • VPX/VPX-REDI formats with four 4-lane fabric ports
    • Ports individually selectable as Serial RapidIO or PCI Express

    • Serial RIO supports integration with high-density computing products, such as CWC's CHAMP-AV6 VPX-based DSP engine

  • Supports popular RTOSes
    • Curtiss-Wright Controls Embedded Computing Linux 2.6 SDK
    • VxWorks 6.x BSP and Driver Suite supporting Workbench 2.x IDE
    • Integrity 6.x

  • Continuum Software Architecture (CSA) firmware
    • System debug, exerciser, and update functions, BIT, and non-volatile memory sanitization function

  • Designed for military harsh-environment applications
    • Air cooled
    • Conduction-cooled

  • First VPX version of CWC's 17x and 18x SBCs


The CWC VPX6-185 is available now from Mistral Solutions, it says. Pricing was not disclosed.

A whitepaper about VITA's VMB technology roadmap is available here.

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