Barbara Schmitz, Chief Marketing Officer MEN Mikro Elektronik
Computers in simulation applications offer a multitude of interfaces to the outside world, communicate with different sensors, carry out calculations and deliver evaluations - often in real time. This continually creates large data volumes which have to be transmitted in time. By nature, these systems are relatively complex and are ideally based on the CompactPCI standard (PICMG 2.0) or the upwards compatible successor CompactPCI PlusIO (PICMG 2.30). Compared to CompactPCI, CompactPCI PlusIO defines additional serial signals on the rear I/O connector J2: SATA, PCI Express, USB, Ethernet.
In this driver training application a CompactPCI PlusIO system is built into the vehicle. The complete vehicle infrastructure is connected to the computer to simulate all functions. The electronics is placed in a conductive cooling system which has to function at a room temperature of up to 63°C. Due to the lack of space inside the vehicle, the system, which is based on single Eurocards, has to be very compact.
A single-board computer developed according to the CompactPCI PlusIO standard (PICMG 2.30) controls a hybrid system with CompactPCI Serial peripheral boards (PICMG CPCI-S.0, core specification currently under development) on the one side and traditional CompactPCI peripheral boards (PICMG 2.0) on the other side. The system is equipped with an SBC which on the one hand has to provide high computing power for simulating the data but which on the other hand is limited regarding the power dissipation because of the special installation situation. In order not to limit the host performance unnecessarily, the I/O functions are decoupled from the host to avoid that they influence each other. The two CAN bus interfaces are controlled via PCI Express to guarantee the required data rates. CompactPCI PlusIO specifies PCI Express x1 for up to four peripheral boards. On the CompactPCI side of the hybrid system a frame grabber is connected via PCI. Further interfaces are symmetrical audio in and out, DVI, Gigabit Ethernet as well as four digital inputs and outputs with 500 volts isolation voltage.
The robust mechanics of CompactPCI PlusIO are also a prerequisite for meeting the extreme shock and vibration requirements, which are specified according to MIL standards in this application.