No summer snooze on this boat!

 

Living in Tempe, Arizona, (HQ for the Embedded Computing business of Emerson Network Power), summer is already here with temperatures consistently over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. And with summer vacation just around the corner, visions of relaxing on the deck of a boat come to mind -- with either a fishing pole or something cool to drink in one’s hand.

 

There is one “boat ride” that I wouldn’t recommend for relaxation, but it does a fine job of testing the mettle of embedded computing solutions – specifically AdvancedTCA® in this case.

 

Quick story - in December, 2008, we were invited by Northrop Grumman to take part in some highly unusual testing – “unusual” by traditional commercial technology standards at least. Emerson was invited to submit its AdvancedTCA equipment to “afloat shock testing”, better known in the defense industry as “barge testing”. The test involved placing 60 pounds of MX-1 plastic explosives 24 feet deep and 20 feet away from a barge containing the functioning equipment – and then detonating it. Naturally, the goal was to verify the continual operation of the equipment on board throughout the blast scenario.

 

Emerson supplied its 14-slot AXP1405 AdvancedTCA shelf with two ATCA-F101 system controllers and switch blades. The AXP1405 was also outfitted with two of Emerson’s ATCA-7221 processor blades, each featuring dual Intel® Xeon™ LV processors. A second, smaller 2-slot Centellis 2000 system from Emerson was also included in the testing. The Centellis 2000 contained two ATCA 7150 processor blades, again featuring two, Dual-Core Intel Xeon LV processors.  In both the large 14-slot and small 2-slot rack mount ATCA systems, the blades were running Red Hat Linux.

 

The ATCA systems were mounted in shock-isolated Northrop racks, of the type used for a variety of programs, and secured to the floor of the barge.    Finally, the systems were connected back to the barge test control room by an umbilical optical Ethernet link that allowed constant monitoring and communication during the test. 

Test equipment and cameras in the barge were used to measure the movement of the racks during the testing.  Multiple blasts were conducted over several days to account for different rack positions, equipment weightings, and physical orientation. How did Emerson Network Power’s various ATCA products fare? Test results showed no equipment failures or system resets for any of the Emerson products on board the barge.

 

So relax and don’t worry about the summer heat or designing for demanding environments for that matter. As this Northrop barge test demonstrates, the military designer can leverage COTS ATCA technology with the assurance of field-proven reliability to realize design cycle time and cost advantages.

Paul