Raleigh, No. CarolinaMIL-spec board maker Thales Computers now offers a 400-MHz version of its existing VCE405 Connectivity Engine. Significantly, this frequency upgrade dissipates as little as 7-W of power, which is a 50% gain in performance with the same power as Thales's 266-MHz predecessor product. Pricing starts at about less than $2400 a pop, in single quantity orders.
Why is this product called a Connectivity Engine? That becomes apparent when you consider its I/O.
For starters, the VCE405 provides 100Base-TX Ethernet, with auto-negotiation to 10Base-T when connected to networks not capable of 100-Mbit/s operation. The Ethernet MAC (media access controller) is a generic implementation of Ethernet's MAC protocol, complying with ANSI/IEEE-802.3 and the IEEE-802.3u supplement.
The Connectivity Engine also offers a total of six serial lines. Two asynchronous EIA-232 lines are supplied, and two so-called ESCC (Enhanced Serial Communications Controllers) from Zilog provide four additional EIA-232/422/485-configurable serial lines. In all, you get two synchronous/asynchronous serial lines and two asynchronous serial lines.
Look Ma, No Heatsinks
Because of the board's low power, it doesn't require heatsinks, making it suitable for applications such as flight control systems on helicopters, where a weight restriction might exist. The VCE405 board runs so little power that it's able to be cooled by natural convection in an 85°C environment. However, ruggedized conduction-cooled versions and air-cooled versions are also available.
The VCE405 Connectivity Engine also runs an IBM/AMCC low power PowerPC 405GPr processor. The general architecture of the 405GPr consists of a 64-bit 133 MHz PLB (processor local bus), and a 32-bit 44.33 (133/3) MHz OPB (on-chip peripheral bus).
The PPC405GPr is powered by a PowerPC 405B3 embedded core. The core tightly couples a 400-MHz CPU, MMU (memory management unit), 16-kbyte instruction cache, and 16-kbyte data cache, as well as debug logic. This finely-tuned core reduces data transfer overhead and minimizes pipeline stalls to greatly improve performance.
Two Mezzanine Slots, Too
The 6U-sized VCE405 includes two 64-bit PMC (PCI bus mezzanine) slots for I/O. Should additional features be required, Thales Computers provides other off-the-shelf PMCs for commercial-grade or harsh-environment applications. These include add-ons for networking (including Ethernet and ATM), additional serial lines, parallel I/O, graphics, and more. The local memory of the card consists of 128-Mbytes of SDRAM (synchronous DRAM), and 8 Mbytes of flash.
For its part, the board's VME64 interface is managed by an ALMA2e. It's the latest release of the highly integrated low-power single chip designed in collaboration with IBM.
The VCE405's RTC (realtime clock) is based on an Dallas Semiconductor DS1602 Elapsed Time Counter. This IC can keep track of over 125 years-worth of seconds in each of its two 32-bit counters.
In terms of development, the VCE405 supports Wind River VxWorks Release 5.5 for Tornado 2.2, and Release 5.4 for Tornado 2.0. The LynxOS 4.0 and BlueCat Linux 4.0 operating system, already available on the 266-MHz version of the VCE405, will also be available soon.
Click here to access an engineering datasheet (in Adobe Acrobat .PDF format)
For more information, contact Thales Computers. Phone: 800-848-2330. Fax: 919-231-8001. Or Thales Computers, Eastern North American Sales Office, 15455 Dallas Parkway, Suite 600, Addison, Texas 75001. Phone: (972) 764-5106. Fax: (972) 764-3430.
Thales Computers, 972-764-5106, www.thalescomputers.com