Modifying COTS Systems to Meet Program Requirements

January 03, 2018 | BY: Mike Southworth

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Customer demands placed on modern rugged embedded processor systems continue to expand for deployed military and aerospace applications, requiring them to not only provide the latest advanced processor, networking and I/O technologies, but also optimize form factor for low size, weight and power (SWaP). While rugged Commercial Off-the-Shelf (COTS) products are available without NRE expense or long development cycles, they are often too general-purpose and lack any specialized capabilities driven by program-specific requirements. This leaves system integrators to consider abandoning the use of a COTS solution and instead attempt to develop their own in-house custom solution. Going this route potentially leaves customers with tradeoffs, since it can ultimately increase both program recurring and non-recurring cost, as well as delay system integration and time to deployment.

Curtiss-Wright’s solution? Modified COTS (MCOTS).

The paradigm for COTS is different with Parvus DuraCOR small form factor rugged computing platforms. These Line Replaceable Units (LRUs) are specifically designed with modularity in mind, featuring built-in mechanical scalability and I/O expansion through mini-PCI Express, PCIe104 and/or XMC card slots to transform a general purpose system into a tailored solution. In some models, scalability also extends to add-on chassis rings or slices that attach to the base CPU chassis to grow its capabilities even more. Curtiss-Wright application engineers architect and integrate these MCOTS solutions, leveraging a large ecosystem of industrial temp standards-based modules, and typically without any NRE expense. These MCOTS DuraCOR mission computers come pre-integrated with the desired I/O modules to support a wide range of interface or control requirements that can include:

  • Vetronics (i.e. CANbus, Ethernet, MIL-STD-1553)
  • Avionics (i.e. ARINC 429, MIL-STD-1553)
  • Isolated, synchronous and/or asynchronous serial comms
  • Video encoders (i.e. H.264 / JPEG 2000 Codecs)
  • Video capture (i.e. 3G/HD-SDI, composite frame grabbers)
  • Gigabit Ethernet NICs or network switches
  • And more

The following illustrates a modular DuraCOR 8042 base system and an MCOTS variant integrated with particular add-on I/O cards to meet platform-specific needs:


By configuring COTS-based mission computers to meet customer-specific requirements, Curtiss-Wright customers can avoid the cost, time and risks of in-house development. Read some recent success stories and find out how MCOTS can help your program too:

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Mike Southworth

Author’s Biography

Mike Southworth

Product Line Manager

Mike Southworth serves as Product Line Manager for Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions where he is responsible for the small form-factor rugged mission computers and Ethernet networking subsystem product line targeting Size, Weight, and Power (SWaP)-constrained military and aerospace applications. Southworth has more than 15 years of experience in technical product management and marketing communications leadership roles. Mike holds an MBA from the University of Utah and a Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations from Brigham Young University.

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