Articles

Next-Gen Processors and Virtualization Cut SWaP Tradeoffs

October 07, 2021

Article by Brandon Lewis on insight.tech

The Columbia Vertol 234 heavy-lift helicopter is used in emergency response and aerial firefighting operations around the world. The aircraft can carry up to 51,000 pounds of water or other flame retardants to wildfires up to 850 nautical miles away.

Despite its vast capacity, in the design of aircraft like the Vertol 234, every ounce matters. With each onboard system and component, aerospace engineers trade range, payload size, or both, which can be the difference in traveling hundreds of miles to make an additional pass at a fire line.

Computational resources come at the ultimate premium in any aircraft. Size, weight, and power—known as SWaP—often dictate which electronic systems are included, and which ones are left behind.

“You might have a communication system,” says Aaron Frank, Senior Product Manager at Curtiss-Wright, a leading supplier of airborne electronics.

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