How do VITA standards support flexibility for
Nigel Forrester: Some VITA standards provide
an almost infinite level of flexibility for backplane
interconnects, a good example being the original VITA
46 VPX specification. The follow-on VITA 65 OpenVPX
specification tightened this up by introducing a range
of common profiles aimed at improving the level of
interoperability between boards from different vendors.
However, like all good standards, VITA 65 is evolving
constantly and is augmented by the VITA 66 and 67
standards that add coaxial and fiber connectivity for
RF-like signals. Within these specifications, it is possible
to construct a wide variety of solutions from multi-server
architectures with 10 gigabit Ethernet interconnects to
high-performance signal processing solutions with Gen 3
PCI Express interconnects.
What trends have you seen lately from companies
that use optical interconnects in embedded
Forrester: With our focus on Intel-based processor cards,
we’ve recently developed several boards with 10 gigabit
Ethernet optical connections to suit applications that need
high data throughput rates or long distance interconnects.
Recently, we’ve been involved in several solutions that are
based on our processor boards and third-party FPGA or
GPU modules that have optical connections to bring in
very high frequency data for processing and then move
this data around using PCI Express connections. Some of
the key target applications for VPX-based systems include
electronic warfare, software-defined radio, and battlefield
communications systems that now rely on optical
interconnects for the RF-type signals. It has taken a few
years for the standard and the optical interconnect pieces
to obtain a level of maturity, but that now appears to have
reached a tipping point.
Board-level optical interconnects are being used in
the Internet of Things to deal with increasing data
traffic. Have you seen the use of board-level optics
proliferating in your work?
Forrester: Copper-based interconnects still proliferate;
most applications can be satisfied with the type of
throughput that can be delivered over copper, but there are
a few applications that can’t, and that’s where standards
like VPX, which has the extensions for optical capability,
really come into their own.
Internet of Things applications, among others, have opened up a new world for interconnects. We asked an
interconnects professional what the future looks like and what support is needed to ensure solutions are available
for a wide range of applications. Nigel Forrester, technical marketing manager with Concurrent Technologies,
provided his insights.
What Does the Future of Interconnects Look Like?