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Rugged Linux cluster platform ships to defense contractor

Dec 21, 2004 — by Henry Kingman — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

CSP Inc. (CSPI) MultiComputer Division has shipped a ruggedized, embedded Linux-based COTS (commercial off-the-shelf) cluster system to a major defense contractor. The company says its FastCluster 220R meets MIL specifications, and targets harsh- and confined-environment C4ISR applications (command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance), including shipboard, airborne, and land-mobile platforms.

(Click for larger image of the CSPI FastCluster 200R)

CSPI says it worked with the contractor to develop the system, which it says meets Level III ruggedization requirements for airflow, structural integrity, operating temperature range, shock, vibration, and EMC/EMI (electromagnic compatibility/interference).

The device can scale to hundreds of PowerPC AltiVec processing nodes, across several chassis. Each front-loading, 19-inch VME/VME64 compatible chassis supports up to 20 6U computing boards, and up to three 9U I/O boards such as Myrinet's Switch Line Cards, CSPI says.

The device runs Linux, along with Myrinet clustering technology, which is said to offer scalable bi-section bandwidth.

CEO Alexander R. Lupinetti said, “We are pleased to see our core FastCluster Linux based technology being deployed for a very critical DoD application. Facing a challenging delivery schedule, the CSPI team demonstrated the advantage of a COTS plus approach to achieve a major program milestone.”

Embedded Linux is making inroads in military and aerospace applications, threatening the hegemony of proprietary RTOS (real-time OS) vendors such as Green Hills Software, which has carried on an anti-Linux PR campaign in response. Proprietary RTOSes are often minimalistic, and their small size helps them achieve higher levels of EAL and other security certifications than Linux. At the same time, their minimalism leads to more complex applications, and hence a greater risk for programmer error. For more on this perspective, see FSMLabs CEO Victor Yodaiken's guest editorial.


CSPI says it can deliver the FastCluster 220R with a 120-day ARO time (after receipt of order). The device is available in three configurations, including commercial/industrial, extended temperature, and ruggedized versions.

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