More. That’s the essence of pushing the performance envelope. For designers of embedded computer systems in military and aerospace applications, “more” means higher processing speeds to handle the ever-increasing complexity of signal intelligence and networked warfare. This, in turn, requires connectors that not only can handle the higher data rates, but also operate reliably in the harshest environments.
Even as designers confront higher processing requirements and more rugged conditions, two other trends affect the design of connectors. The first is to address SWaP—size, weight, and power consumption—to create systems that are smaller, lighter, and more capable. In high-performance aircraft, whether manned or unmanned, where space is always at a premium, weight has a direct relationship to flight times and payload, and efficient power distribution means smaller power-generation components. Thus, it is no surprise that system designers are obsessed with SWaP. The other important trend is the use of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) components—ensuring product availability when you need it. Even a new design can be COTS-based by using well-established and field-proven technology as building blocks.
New levels of connector ruggedization can take two forms: an entirely new connector or an upgrade to an existing connector. Option 1 gives designers the most freedom, but at the expense of legacy product designs and standards. Option 2 offers backwards compatibility with existing connectors and board designs. Republished from Digi-Key (April 2014)