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Cool Design:  Airplanes

Posted by dougb Jul 21, 2009

Here in the Intel Wired Networks world, we get to work on plenty of cool designs.  In a running series of articles I'll be showing you what I can talk about in terms of cool designs*.  Hopefully this will inspire you to think of Ethernet and Intel products as not only as a way to communicate, but as a way to change the world.


First up is the Aviation, part of the Military, Aerospace and Government business segment.  I figured, try the tricky one first.  While Aviation shares a lot in common with the Automotive business segment, its just "more".  More shock, more vibe, higher temperatures, less tolerance and acceptance of failure.  Intel offers the Intel® 82574IT Network Connection with expanded temperature (-40 to +85 0C) that fits well into Aviation designs.  With the leads on the outside of package, it avoids the typical attachment concerns with BGA pinned parts.  Its small form factor allows for space saving designs.  Its a real winner for this segment.  A common question is what would Gigabit Ethernet do in this segment?  Gigabit Ethernet is great at moving large amounts of data quickly and doing with error detection, so things like high resolution maps, video entertainment feeds, sensor data, simulation data and even O/S updates for the other systems in the plane.  It replaces sneakernet for pilots, which helps avoid issues.   Aviation Ethernet cables are not your normal Ethernet cables.  They are heavily shielded and have connectors that are pretty much vibration proof.  I went to plug one in and I had to "lean" into it, using all my sizable pounds to get enough force on the connector to seal correctly.  The cable itself is almost an inch (2.54 cm) in thickness.  Its looks more like the old 10-Base-5 trunk cables!  Speaking of cables, I heard of a new aviation design where the contractor picked an interconnect based on it being a fiber technologies.  Don't forget that Ethernet does fiber too!  Products like the Intel® 82576 Network Connection support Copper, SGMII and SerDes mode, with each port of the product individually configurable.  You can use the SGMII to go fiber with SFP or use the SerDes to directly connect to the optics.  Why do it SerDes instead of SERDES?  That's a whole 'nother post.  So back to the topic.


When you say "Aviation design wins" my mind immediately turns to three wins.  Growing up as a kid, I wanted to be like the pilots in the air show near my house.  But planes like the Boeing/McDonnell-Douglas F-15 Eagle take years of training and commitment to learn how to fly, not to mention great eyesight.  I was "optically challenged" and figured the F-15 was beyond me.  So imagine my surprise when I had to help out on a F-15 design win!  The functionality of the module is classified, the location is classified, and pretty much all they would tell us is F-15.  So even though I couldn't fly a F-15, I was helping to keep it flying.  Or at least functional.


The next one is somewhere inside the Boeing 777.  They came down to the Farm to help fix an issue they were having.  The engineer was a treat to work with and the pride in his work really showed.  He brought the Aviation Ethernet cables, and really showed me and my team the ins and outs of the Aviation Ethernet segment.  I'll be taking a flight this summer on a 777 so I can experience my work in action!  Can't wait.


I have one more that's sort of Aviation.  But it's mostly Space.  You probably figured it out, it's the Space Shuttle.  While I'm not sure if we have designs actually ON the shuttle, I do know that Intel Ethernet helps keep the "Shuttle Safe" program working.  NASA uses QuVIS® video capture equipment takes high definition videos of the orbiter while its going up and relays it to a couple of NASA sites for immediate review.  The capture equipment transfers all the video via Intel Ethernet.  The job required high definition, and they select a 1 Gigabit integrated MAC/PHY combo:  the Intel® 82545GM Network Connection.  This gave them the flexibility to use 100Mbs when doing low definition, or 1 Gigabit when the data rate was higher.  This is the type of flexibility the aviation market segment needs.  Buy for today and build for tomorrow.


So today, thanks to Intel Ethernet, the shuttle can go into orbit tomorrow knowing that eyes are watching to help keep them safe.  QuVIS was kind enough to send me a snapshot of the shuttle on the pad as taken by their equipment.


I keep it with pride.


If you have a Military, Aerospace or Government (MAG) design win, contact your Intel field sales team and tell them you want to be featured in the Intel Wired Ethernet blog.  Or you can just drop us a line in here at the blog post and we'll see about getting your design some shine time!  Thanks for using Intel networking products!



* The use of other people products names does not constitute an endorsement of Intel or its products by the products or their creating company.  Furthermore, Intel does not endorse any of the products listed herein.  Products names are merely examples and all names, images and what not are property of the company that owns them.  Happy now, lawyer dude?

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