New VITA 46 Updates for High-Speed Interconnects

By Amy Goetzman | October 29, 2019

ANSI has ratified updates to an embedded computing standard that has important ramifications for military electronics.

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) recently ratified the VITA 46.0 (commonly known as VPX) baseline standard for critical embedded computing. VITA 46, or VPX, provides Versa Module Europa bus (VMEbus) based systems with support for switched fabric network topologies over a new high-speed connector.


The US Army’s digital systems engineers bring a “system of systems” approach to providing training, troubleshooting, and support for command, control, communications, computer, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR) equipment, a great deal of which relies on VITA 46 connector technologies. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army)

The standard defines the physical features that enable high-speed communication in a 3U or 6U backplane-based critical and intelligent embedded computing systems, including many defense applications and much of the hardware work being done by the SOSA Consortium. In military electronics, high-speed embedded computing applications play a critical role in command, control, communications, computer, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR) systems, many of which are at the forefront of technologies designed to improve soldiers’ situational awareness, mission-readiness, success, and safety.

VITA and ANSI processes require that every active standard be reviewed every five years to qualify for full recognition under VITA guidance. The VITA 46 VPX working group originally started work in March 2003, ratified a baseline VPX standard in 2007, and last revised it in 2013. In recent years, new technologies have entered the theater, and systems such as radar, electro-optics, infrared sensors, signals intelligence (SIGINT), electronic warfare (EW), and communications have come under the standard’s purview. As sensor and antenna technologies become more integral to these networks, an update was needed.

This latest revision made several deletions, clarifications, and updates to the capabilities defined in the standard to bring it up to date with the rapidly evolving requirements of VPX technology and facilitate interoperability for multi-vendor, multi-module, integrated system environments. Future revisions to the VITA 46 standard are likely to include updates based on current ANSI research into efforts to improve the data rate of VPX to 25Gb/s. 

Other relevant VPX standards includes the ANSI/VITA 46.0 baseline standard; ANSI/VITA 46.1: VMEbus signal mapping; ANSI/VITA 46.3 Serial RapidIO; ANSI/VITA 46.4 PCI Express; ANSI/VITA 46.6 Gigabit Ethernet control plane on VPX; ANSI/VITA 46.7 Ethernet; ANSI/VITA 46.9 PMC/XMC rear I/O; ANSI/VITA 46.10 rear transition module; and ANSI/VITA 46.11 system management on VPX.

Recent VITA 46 Connector Product Introductions

RVPX Ruggedized VITA 46 Connectors from Amphenol Socapex provide flexible, cost-effective, high-speed solutions for open architecture embedded computing systems in commercial and military aerospace, space, C4ISR, and ground and missile defense applications. The modular COTS (commercial off-the-shelf) connectors have a pin-less backplane configuration, offer data rates in excess of 10Gb/s, and can be combined with high-power modules, VITA 67 RF modules, and VITA 66 optical modules. They are currently available in 3U and 6U VPX slot profiles and in 10Gb/s and 16Gb/s versions, with a 25Gb/s version slated for release sometime soon. They meet and exceed VITA 47 performance requirements, are qualified to VITA 46 for Open VPX applications, and are fully intermountable to and intermateable with exiting VITA 46 connectors.

TE Connectivity’s MULTIGIG RT 3 connectors are among the fastest rugged backplane connectors currently available, supporting speeds of 25+Gb/s, and have the lightest design of any ruggedized backplane connector currently available. Ideal for embedded computing and VPX applications in extreme military and space environments, including C4ISR electronic warfare, avionics, ground defense, and missile defense systems, MULTIGIG RT 3 connectors employ durable, lightweight thermoplastic and copper alloys and the same quad-redundant contacts that have been time-tested and proven to meet rigorous VITA standards for reliable performance under intense vibrations in the MULTIGIG RT 2-R Series. The series also easily integrates with other VPX products and conforms to VITA 46 industry standards, which makes it backwards compatible with legacy OpenVPX systems.

Amphenol Aerospace added two new VPX Board Conversion Modules (CF-020011-438 and CF-020011-433) to its VPX Media Converter product line, which provides media and protocol conversion for open systems architectures in the rugged military market. Designed to support conversion from both backplane and Base-T connectors as well as backplane and high-end fiber connections, the product line includes all of the components needed to support the factory- or in-field installation and quick integration of these rugged modules into new subsystems, including LED indicators, full diagnostics, and control interfaces for built-in test and alternate configurations. The 3U and 6U VPX modules provide connectivity for 1G, 10G, and up to 40GbE with Base-T and Fiber-Base-SR conversion circuitry and support plug and play integration with COTS VPX CPUs, switches, and other devices.

Read the 2019 State of the VITA Technology Industry report by Ray Alderman.

Like this article? Check out our other Standards, high-speed, and 2019 articles, and our Military & Aerospace Market Page.

Amy Goetzman
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