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Jumping the Hurdles: Designing Highly Effective Embedded Graphics Solutions for the Aerospace and Defense Industry

November 30, 2016 | BY: Aaron Frank , Mary Beth Barrans

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Modern gaming systems have driven the need for powerful, versatile graphics processing units (GPUs) that can handle an ever-evolving variety of software applications. These robust, high performance GPUs have migrated into the embedded aerospace and defense markets where they have enabled next generation video processing in deployed applications. While integrated graphics on a Single Board Computer (SBC) may be sufficient for many video display applications, highly intensive video applications such as embedded training, 360° situational awareness, degraded visual environments (DVE) and complex moving maps require specialized graphics processors to meet their high performance and multi-head display requirements. In instances where critical performance levels, support for Real Time Operating System (RTOS) drivers, or safety certification is needed, these dedicated embedded graphics modules are often a more suitable and lower risk technology choice.

Discrete GPUs: The Challenges

Designing a graphics-intensive application can be challenging, and will often require components sourced from many different vendors. Sourcing graphics hardware from one vendor, graphics drivers from a second, and operating system software from another can be problematic. If issues occur during development or integration, the customer may find themselves shuffled back and forth between multiple vendors in an attempt to get the system operational.

Furthermore, components from different vendors may not be interoperable, causing difficulties in diagnosing performance issues with the system. Many suppliers focus on only hardware or only software, and are not able to provide a complete graphics solution. Rugged, embedded applications must also find a solution to meet their unique mission needs that is effective in a range of temperatures, while maintaining a low power, SWaP-optimized footprint. Not only is the performance of the hardware and software important, but the availability, length, and quality of vendor services plays a major role in ensuring a program’s success and long term investment protection. Finding a happy medium between all these considerations can be time consuming and frustrating, causing delays in system design, and consequently, deployment.

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Author’s Biography

Aaron Frank

Senior Product Manager, Intel SBC & Graphics

Aaron Frank joined Curtiss-Wright in January 2010. As the Senior Product Manager for Single Board Computer and Graphics product lines, he is responsible for a wide range of COTS products utilizing processing and video graphics/GPU technologies in many industry standard module formats (VME, VPX, etc). His focus includes product development and marketing strategies, technology roadmaps, and serving as a subject matter expert within the sales team. Previous to this role, Aaron held the product Manager role for Networking products. Aaron has a Bachelors of Science in Electrical Engineering degree from the University of Waterloo.

Mary Beth Barrans

Author’s Biography

Mary Beth Barrans

Senior Marketing Product Specialist

Mary Beth Barrans joined Curtiss-Wright in 2013. As a Senior Marketing Product Manager and Technical Publications Team Lead, she is responsible for the product messaging for Single Board Computers, Graphics, Networking, and Safety Certifiable products, as well as the technical publications for all COTS products. She has a Bachelor of Social Sciences, a Bachelor of Education, a Masters of Arts, and a Technical Writing designation.

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