Barbara Schmitz, Chief Marketing Officer MEN Mikro Elektronik
CompactPCI systems are flexible thanks to their modular structure and robust thanks to the 19" technology. But even in harsh environments - a typical field of application for CompactPCI - higher and higher data volumes have to be transmitted as fast as possible. For this reason, the basic CompactPCI core specification PICMG 2.0 has been extended by an upwards compatible variant with additional serial interfaces via the backplane: PICMG 2.30.
In camera applications, for example, fast transfer of large data volumes is required. In this application cameras are installed in the fuselage of a plane for taking air photographs. The photos are taken from a height of up to 5000 meters and are used for mapping or track surveying for example. Using special filters in front of the camera, "invisible" factors can be documented - like the chlorophyll content of a corn field made visible in order to determine the amount of fertilizer needed.
A PICMG 2.30 system is the perfect solution here, because up to four PCI Express lanes, among others, are accessible at the backplane by default. In this case they are used for connecting two XMC modules which are plugged onto separate carrier boards in the CompactPCI PlusIO system. One XMC is used for realizing a hardware SATA RAID, the other one is a fiber optic module for transporting the data.
What makes using a CompactPCI PlusIO system in this application also attractive is the fact that it is mission-critical. On the one hand, the camera data has to be checked when still in the air, because the flights can only take place in good weather conditions. For this, the system has to function reliably at all times. On the other hand the electronics are subject to harsh environmental conditions regarding temperature, humidity, shock and vibration.