Embedded Ethernet switches have become a staple in military, industrial and automotive applications. For any of these applications, space, performance and reliability have always been key evaluation factors. Typically, embedded Ethernet switches come equipped with 4, 8, 14 and even up to 24 ports on a compact form factor—usually smaller than 4 inches by 4 inches. Embedded switches come in two flavors: managed or unmanaged. If you missed our blog on why you would need managed versus unmanaged Ethernet switches, please check that out here.
Embedded switches are a perfect compliment to a communications backplane that attempts to tie in board-level networked devices such as computers, robotic controls, VoIP, sensors, cameras or any other device that needs to communicate with any other networked device. All of them usually fit in a neat, compact package that easily slips into a confines space.
Recently, Techaya took embedded Ethernet switches to a whole new level of innovation. The MILTECH 9136 supports up 52 ports on a 3.4” x 3.4” footprint. The MILTECH 9136 is ideal for managing and switching large quantities of network-enabled devices with 24 1G ports of plug and play copper, 8 ports 1G SFP fiber, 4 ports of 10G SFP+ fiber, and 4 QSGMII ports for an additional 16 1G fiber interfaces.
The Precision Time Protocol, as defined in the IEEE-1588 standard, provides a method to precisely synchronize compute devices over a Local Area Network (LAN) or Wide Area Network (WAN) using “clock synchronization. The MILTECH 9136 has both hardware and software support for enhanced 1588 v2 and SyncE features. The switch can support grand master, boundary, slave and transparent modes.
With the ability to time and synchronize network packets over the network, embedded Ethernet switches, can now be used for advanced applications that need network communication to be timely ad precise. Applications include military strike applications, voice and video over IP, and robotic and automation.
With support for multiple communications speeds, advanced managed network features and timing and synchronization, the MILTECH 9136 brings a whole new level of sophistication to embedded Ethernet switches.
In addition to guns, ammunition, ruck sacs and more, the modern US soldier must now carry electronics– from night vision to radios, and now programs such as Nett Warrior add smartphones, tablets, and GPS to this load. And just like the bullets for a soldier’s gun, a soldier’s electronics need ammo in the form of batteries–and they all need to be able to communicate with themselves to share intelligence both on the field and with central command.
The Vehicular Integration for C4ISR/EW Interoperability (VICTORY) specification was developed as a standard for US Army vehicles to combat a history of the “bolt-on” approach when adding new communications systems and electronics—systems that were often siloed and had no interoperability between them. This earlier approach often led to duplicate hardware, little future-proofing and a lack of required economies for size, weight, power and costs (SWAP-C).
Ethernet is the well-established standard in government, enterprise, and home applications. It is rapidly becoming the standard for military and other rugged applications due to proven interoperability, reliability, and speed. Historically, dedicated bus architectures have been used in military applications, resulting in heavy and somewhat inflexible systems.
Ethernet has been shown as a viable alternative for a number of reasons:
- • Ethernet and IP technologies are ubiquitous
- • Ethernet devices are inherently interoperable, encouraging modularity
- • Rugged commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) components are readily available
- • Ethernet continues to receive large technology investments
- • Ethernet operates over world-spanning distances using established infrastructures
In all mobile military and airborne platforms, the transition from mechanical systems to electronically controlled systems is taking place. As the electronics content continues to grow, so do the processing loads that happen on every platform. Embedded computers are rising in sophistication as they need to support sensors, radar, video streams, and remote-control functions. Distributed processing, the interconnection of devices, and communication between devices has led to an exponential jump in bandwidth requirements on the interconnects between these devices. Traditional protocols like IEEE 1394 and USB still have legacy applications on these platforms, but most new platforms and platform retrofits are turning to Ethernet as their de facto communications protocol, supporting 1 Gbps in most platforms and growing to 10 Gbps in certain payloads.
In my last blog, I took a look at the history of Ethernet. It was fun to look back at history, however it is more important to look at the future. With Ethernet becoming the ubiquitous connectivity standard for service providers, enterprises, and military applications, we are letting go of proprietary networking technologies and heading directly in to industry standard networking based on Ethernet.
So, to get a little retro on everybody, I thought I’d take a step back in time and have a fun look at the history of Ethernet. A couple of months ago, Ethernet actually celebrated its 44th anniversary. That’s right. Ethernet was developed back in 1973 and today, 44 years later, it is becoming THE ubiquitous local area networking (LAN) technology in addition to wide area networking (WAN) and now even infiltrating storage area networking (SAN).
We’re often approached by companies who have designed a prototype system composed of networks sensors, cameras, GPS systems, and other elements with compute platforms over Ethernet. These prototypes often use commercial-grade Ethernet switches. Sometimes they use the enclosure, sometimes they pull the components out of the enclosure and try to jerry-rig the switch components in some sort of fashion. What they soon find out, however, is that these commercial-grade switches (and other commercial-grade componentry) do not stand up the rigorous environmental factors that mobile military and aerospace applications almost always run in to.
Ethernet has become the connectivity platform of choice for military unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) system designers.
Fixed- and rotary-wing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are employed extensively by the military for reconnaissance, search and rescue, counterterrorism, and combat. UAVs function in missions where it is too dangerous, too difficult, or too demanding to send a pilot, whether the mission is in inaccessable terrain or a war zone, whether the objective is covert surveillance, a long-haul flight, or continuous extended observation.
Power over Ethernet, or POE, is a technology that enables a single cable to provide both data connection and electrical power to networked pieces of equipment such as sensors, IP video cameras, and even wireless mesh nodes. POE works across standard network cabling (i.e. CAT5) to supply power directly from the data ports to which networked devices are connected.