Articles

The Evolution of Embedded Computing Chassis, Backplanes, and Enclosures

February 25, 2021

Published in Military & Aerospace Electronics
Written by John Keller

The traditional embedded computing backplane and design is subject to many pressures these days, such as increasing demands for thermal management, open-systems standards such as the Sensor Open Systems Architecture (SOSA), demands for increased data throughput, steady demands for customization within accepted industry standards, and demands for increased data input/output (I/O).

These pressures are leading to innovations that taken together may be altering embedded chassis and enclosure design in a fundamental way, as systems integrators seek to accommodate rapid upgrades on the chip and board level on the one hand, while maintaining fundamental chassis and backplane design approaches on the other.

Suffice it to say that today’s embedded computing chassis and backplanes are far from your father’s VME architectures. Pressure to deal with ever-growing amounts of heat, ever-shrinking electronic components and board architectures, and the need to produce ruggedized computing subsystems in ever-smaller form factors will ensure a rapid pace of change for embedded computing backplanes and enclosures.

Thermal Management

It’s clear that computer components that get too hot do not perform to their designed specifications. The objective, then, is to cool these hot components sufficiently so they can operate at top performance. The problem, however, involves size, weight, and power consumption — better-known as SWaP. Systems designers want high performance in small packages, but the smaller the package, the more heat it generates.

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