Bus & Board 2007: Speakers address VMEbus trends, needs, new technologies, new name

Bus & Board 2007, which focuses on interconnect technologies including VMEbus, CompactPCI, motherboards, and other products for embedded applications, celebrated the 25th anniversary of VMEbus by talking about new technologies. The platform’s slow but continuing growth will increasingly depend on switch fabrics, high-speed serial interconnects, and other technologies, according to Ray...

By Staff March 1, 2007

Bus & Board 2007, which focuses on interconnect technologies including VMEbus, CompactPCI, motherboards, and other products for embedded applications, celebrated the 25th anniversary of VMEbus by talking about new technologies. The platform’s slow but continuing growth will increasingly depend on switch fabrics, high-speed serial interconnects, and other technologies, according to Ray Alderman, executive director of the conference organizer, VITA. “Quick and deep adoption of standards will also help,” he continues.

Alderman suggested that another necessary move for VMEbus will be to move to optical I/O, an existing technology that finally may be accepted because it offers superior speed, noise immunity and an ability to go long distances.

This is the last Bus and Board show under that name, but not the last VITA show. The Critical Embedded Systems show will combine Bus and Board with two other VITA-sponsored events—Military Embedded Electronics and Computing Conference, and CoolCON. A VITA spokesman said the name change more accurately reflects the mission of VMEbus and all that has come to be associated with it.

In the event’s keynote address, Daniel Hoste, president and CEO of Tundra Semiconductor, cited a survey that found customers wanting increased performance, lower prices, security of supply, reduced size, reduced cost per unit and environmental friendliness. Only new technology, he said, can provide all these, yet uncoordinated calendars of standards/technology changes like RoHS, ENIG and WEE, further fragment the market.

While VME is still very useful, Hoste added, a serial interconnect is needed for higher performance. In 1999 64-bit VMEbus appeared; in 2001 came 2e VMEbus, then the VME 2eSST protocol in 2004, followed by VXS and VPS. There are now multiple choices for serial interconnects, he said, including Infiniband, PCI Express, Ethernet and RapidIO. Hoste then made a case for RapidIO, and this topic was revisited the same day by Tom Cox, executive director of the RapidIO Trade Association, who stressed its value for life-critical or safety-critical embedded systems.

One area of constant concern in bus and board engineering is increasing power dissipation and ever-greater cooling requirements. A number of companies showed innovative cooling methods worthy of consideration, but Peter Bannon, VP of architecture and verification at P.A. Semi, suggested another approach: use less power. He pointed out that, since power dissipation increases exponentially with performance, a slight sacrifice in raw performance can save great quantities of power.

Another trend mentioned was the use of field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) to do jobs that previously would have been done by CPUs.

www.vita.com