The Best SBCs for Aerospace

Press Office, VersaLogic Corporation, 03/31/21

The aerospace industry demands embedded computer products that reach the heights in quality, reliability, ruggedness, as well as (quite literally) in altitude. The best SBCs designed for aerospace applications meet these requirements and more.

Quality: The Foundation

If you’re familiar with ISO 9001 you already know something about AS9100. AS9100 is a standard that is built on top of ISO 9001 and is applied to quality management systems for aviation, space and defense organizations. Its current revision, AS9100D, includes all of the content from ISO 9001 and inserts additional requirements that meet the needs of the aerospace industry. It satisfies the requirements of DOD, NASA and the FAA.

AS9001 directly addresses risk management as relates to product safety and counterfeit parts. This makes it relevant to any customer where minimizing risk to proper product functioning and end user safety is important. AS9100 risk-tolerance is more stringent than the requirements within ISO 9001 with much more focus on prevention rather than corrective action.

Another advantage of AS9100 is that it provides a single standard for the aerospace industry instead of multiple standards. As a superset, certification to AS9100 also includes certification to IS0 9001.

ISO 9001:2015, AS9100D certified company logoAS9100 certified companies must undergo an intensive audit process that delves into all aspects of the business, but the product related standards include:

  • How products are conceived
  • Design and verification processes
  • Manufacturing processes
  • Delivery performance

Successful completion of the audit enables companies, such as VersaLogic, to become AS9100 certified. Certification is maintained by successful completion of yearly audits. To learn more about AS9100, PRI Registrar has more information on their website.

The Three Rs: Reliability, Ruggedness, and Resilience

Assuming that an embedded computing solutions provider is certified to AS9100, what’s next? It’s time to consider product attributes.

The first, reliability, depends on applying the quality processes outlined above. It starts during the design and component selection stage, and continues on throughout the life cycle of the product.

VersaLogic’s procedures make sure no assumptions are made, no shortcuts are taken, and no “improvements” occur unless they are fully vetted. The result is extremely high quality embedded computer products and ever-increasing MTBF numbers.

Ruggedness relates to an embedded computer products’ ability to standup to challenging environmental conditions. This includes testing products against MIL-STD-202 shock and vibration conditions, or exposing them to wide extremes of temperature to ensure reliable operation over the industrial temperature range of -40° to +85°C.

Grizzly embedded serverThe Grizzly – a 16-core micro server designed and manufactured for use in extreme edge environments

The term “resilience” suggests many things. In this case we’ll use it in the sense of the ability to recover from an unwanted event. In the case of high flying aircraft or UAVs, that conjures up thoughts about resilience to single bit memory errors caused by cosmic rays.

unmanned aerial vehicleHigh flying introduces the need for resilience against cosmic ray-induced single bit errors

In selecting embedded computing solutions for high altitude deployment, it is advisable to look for those that use Error Correcting Code (ECC) memory. This type of memory detects single bit errors and corrects them.

intel apollo lake rugged embedded computercompact embedded computer with ECC memory
VersaLogic’s SWaP-optimized Harrier and Owl, featuring ECC RAM, were designed with mission-critical aerospace and defense applications in mind

Long Life and Zombies

The aerospace industry generally has long product lifecycles. Aircraft take a long time to develop, have rigorous certification processes, and production runs can span decades. This requires special attention to be paid to long-term availability of embedded computing solutions.

“Long-term” has many different meanings. To some suppliers it’s a few years. To others it has to do with convenience: “If all of the components are easily obtainable, we’ll continue to manufacture the product a little longer.” VersaLogic’s outlook is a little different. From the first day of the product design, VersaLogic is focused on providing long-term availability of 10+ years.

With formal Lifecycle Extension programs that “10+ year” commitment goes a long way. For example, being able to guarantee a 25-year delivery schedule in order to coincide with Navy ship docking schedules.

It’s often possible to make a last time buy from suppliers when an embedded computer reaches end of life (EOL). In most cases that’s the end of the road. VersaLogic has a history of resurrecting products from the grave and creating a “zombie” build, even to the point of being able to supply 4-figure quantities of product after end of life. VersaLogic takes supporting long-term availability very seriously.

In Closing

For aerospace, it’s important to select a supplier that has AS9100 certification, can supply products that are reliable, rugged, and resilient, and that can continue to deliver designed-in products even past their formal end of life.

Need additional Information?

Want to know more about VersaLogic’s range of embedded products? Let’s start a conversation.