Embedded Computing Enclosures go Standard, and go Small

February 24, 2022

Embedded Computing Enclosures go Standard, and go Small

Published in Military & Aerospace Electronics
Written by John Keller

Industry standards and guidelines such as MOSA, SOSA, CMOSS, SAVE, and FACE are driving the latest developments in enclosures, chassis, and backplane databuses, as small for factors are ready to take center stage.


NASHUA, N.H. - The embedded computing chassis, enclosures, and backplane databus industry is on the verge of a technology revolution every bit as significant as the industry’s transition to VPX nearly two decades ago, as standard architectures and small-form-factor designs are poised to become major players in this market.

First, open-systems standards based on the Sensor Open Systems Architecture (SOSA) are inundating embedded computing bus and board designs like a tidal wave, as new SOSA aligned products enter the market virtually every week. Second, the SOSA-compliant VNX small-form-factor bus and board standard is making significant improvements in power, performance, and thermal management to take a commanding market role beginning as early as this year.

As SOSA aligned enclosures, chassis, and backplane databuses become widely available, not only will the industry see an increase in compatible products among third-party suppliers, but the industry also will start seeing small-form-factor bus-and-board architectures in places they’ve never been seen before, such as air-launched missiles, handheld test and measurement equipment, unmanned vehicles, and sensor pods.

In addition to SOSA aligned and small-form-factor chassis, enclosures, and backplane databuses, industry trends also include the addition of RF and microwave coax interfaces for boards and enclosures, a new crop of no-slot interfacing, innovative thermal-management design approaches, and improved interconnects for advanced signal integrity for applications such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, fast Ethernet interconnects, and small-form-factor avionics, vetronics, small satellites, and unmanned vehicles.

What is the Modular Open Systems Approach (MOSA) Directive?

On January 7, 2019, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) issued a memo, signed by the Secretaries of the Army, Air Force, and Navy, mandating the use of the Modular Open Systems Approach (MOSA). The MOSA directive has accelerated the adoption of a variety of open standards, such as The Open Group Sensor Open Systems Architecture™ (SOSA) and the U.S. Army CCDC C5ISR Center’s C5ISR/EW Modular Open Suite of Standards (CMOSS), that have been adopted by the three military branches.