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How to Realize Enormous Processing Power in a Single Slot

July 09, 2018 | BY: Aaron Frank

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Size, weight and power (SWaP) will always be critical when it comes to military and commercial vehicles, whether ground, sea-based or airborne. For embedded systems, maximizing performance while minimizing the physical and power footprint is paramount in order to give platforms a competitive edge. And, with the growing prevalence of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), solutions that take up a smaller amount of onboard space – freeing up area for additional fuel storage – provide a significant advantage.

Often, a platform’s performance demands can pose a SWaP optimization challenge. The hardware supporting applications that require large amounts of processing output or complex computing capabilities must do the job effectively while occupying a small space, consuming minimal power and adding as little weight as possible to the platform. To enhance a system’s performance without adding SWaP burden, a mezzanine processor can be paired with a single board computer (SBC) to effectively extend the processing capabilities within the confines of a single slot.

Mezzanine Processor

XMC-121 Intel Kaby Lake Xeon XMC Mezzanine Processor

In many instances, this dual-processor solution is ideal in enabling an important level of separation by allowing applications to run on different processors or even different operating systems without requiring additional space or enormous development efforts. This solution provides complete application security and independence greater than that delivered by a hypervisor with security profiles, but with less setup and maintenance complexity and development cost and effort.

Even for applications that don’t require such independence, a mezzanine processor can significantly boost an SBC’s processing power to meet demanding performance requirements. Take, for example, a Curtiss-Wright customer that sought a SWaP-optimized processing solution for its next-gen synthetic aperture radar (SAR). Typically mounted on aircraft, SAR systems create high-resolution 2D or 3D images using data collected via sensors, and require high-performance embedded computing technology in order to process observations in real time and deliver detailed image maps. Coupling a 12-core Xeon D digital signal processor (DSP) with a four-core XMC mezzanine processor, Curtiss-Wright delivered a processing powerhouse with a total of 16 cores spread across two processors to drive performance – all within a single slot. What’s more, leveraging commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) technology enabled the customer to bring its solution to market faster, with minimal complexity and development time. (Read the full story)

Learn about Curtiss-Wright’s rugged Intel and Power Architecture XMC mezzanine SBCs.

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 our Intel Single Board Computer and Graphics product lines, he is responsible for a wide range of COTS products utilizing Intel 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.

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