Overview

Military, aerospace and marine applications have developed significantly over time, to ensure efficient and effective performance in harsh and demanding environments such as extreme temperatures coupled with severe shock and vibration. Due to the nature of these unforgiving environmental conditions it is of paramount importance that all components are able to work successfully without risk of failure or damage. To guarantee the effective implementation of processor boards and systems in these applications, ruggedization is a key process; a process that is fundamental in the development of Concurrent Technologies’ embedded processor solutions. To ensure the effective application of these solutions, products are required to pass a number of vigorous tests and challenges to ensure success in their implementation and provide the user with a long-life cycle product that is able to withstand the test of time and use.

Preliminary Information

Driven by customer needs, Concurrent Technologies recently conducted enhanced environmental testing on one of their 3U VPX  Rugged Server Boards, at the accredited NTS testing facility in Massachusetts. TR H4x/3sd-RCx is a rugged 3U VPX™ board for compute intensive applications that has been developed to align with the SOSA™ technical specification. By default, it is fitted with a 12-core Intel® Xeon® processor D-1559 and 64GB of soldered down DDR4 memory making it suitable for workload consolidation tasks in highly challenging environments.  Another key feature is a 40G Ethernet data plane connection, providing a significant interconnect performance boost.

In order for our ruggedized products to be deemed suitable for use, Concurrent Technologies are required to put them through a series of rigorous tests to assess their performance under a number of conditions. To pass, and be deemed application ready, a board must be able to withstand operating temperatures of -40°C to +85°C, with humidity ranges of between 5% to 95% non-condensing. Other key factors to assess are the levels of shock and vibration the board or system can withstand and differing levels or operating altitude, which are typically tested between -1,000ft and +50,000ft. Concurrent Technologies decided to assess the performance of this specific board under a number of increasingly challenging conditions, including: significant altitude, rapid decompression, humidity and salt/fog testing.  In particular, we set out to assess the performance at a much wider altitude range: between -1,500ft and 70,000ft. As our product portfolio develops and extends, it is of paramount importance that we are developing products that are able to keep up with the fast-changing nature of the key industries. For example, while many manned aircraft have an operational limit ~50,000ft, unmanned drones and other applications are capable of flying much higher altitudes.

Altitude: “Products and equipment used at excessive heights need to be durable enough to withstand the extreme conditions they will face.”  The main importance of altitude testing is to replicate factors experienced by components subjected to extreme heights.   Typically, altitude test chambers can accommodate components, materials, subassemblies and complete devices in altitude chambers ranging from the very small up to the very large and are able to perform rapid (not more than 15 seconds) decompression testing.” [i]

Salt & Fog: “Processor boards and system components that are exposed to the elements must be able to withstand corrosion. Demonstrating adequate resistance to salt spray and fog is important to deliver an overall higher quality of product to our end users.  Testing labs typically employ a sealed salt spray chamber in which our products are subjected to controlled doses of an atomized sodium chloride and sulfur dioxide solution. The length of exposure and the strength of the solution are determined by our specific project requirements. “[ii]

Findings

Overall, TR H4x/3sd-RCx complied with all specific requirements in all of the test areas.

Altitude[iii]: Extensive altitude testing established that TR H4x/msd-RCx operated without any functionality impairment and with no damage to the board.  Significant performance was recorded at both 60,000 ft and 70,000 ft.

Altitude: Rapid Decompression[iv]: Rapid decompression testing established significant performance reading from the TR H4x/3sd-RCx under conditions. Transfer from 8,000 Ft to 60,000 Ft occurred smoothly with no performative or physical changes to the board.

Altitude: Humidity[v]: TR H4x/msd-RCx was checked following numerous cycles to make sure all functionality tests were successfully completed without any damage.  All responses were deemed ok, at a number of different temperatures and humidity levels.

Salt & Fog[vi]: The Salt Fog testing operates over a long duration, in this case over 48 hours. At regular intervals the TR H4x/3sd-RCx was checked in an “exposed” state, returning good fallout readings. Following final checks at the end of the test, a minor deposit of residue remained.


References:

[i] https://www.nts.com/services/testing/environmental/altitude/#

[ii] https://www.nts.com/services/testing/environmental/salt-fog/

[iii] Specification: MIL-STD-810G – Paragraph/Method: 500.5

[iv] Specification: MIL-STD-810G – Paragraph/Method: 500.5

[v] Specification: MIL-STD-810G – Paragraph/Method: 507.5 – 7 PII

[vi] Specification: ASTM – G-85-11 – Paragraph/Method: Annex 4 (A4.4.4.1) – Performed per ANSI/VITA 47.0 specifications