Miniature Connectors Evolve to Meet Needs for High Speed I/O in Small Form Factor Embedded Systems


The world of rugged small form factor (SFF) embedded computers is rapidly growing. Powerful architectures such as VPX remain the standard solution for high-performance embedded computing, but designers are looking toward smaller, lighter input/output solutions to save space and weight. VPX is modular and scalable, therefore well suited to SFF systems. However, unleashing embedded computers’ horsepower and achieving end-to-end high-speed performance pose another challenge. A new generation of miniature and nanominiature connectors now supports the needs of high-speed I/O, for 100-ohm data busses like Gigabit and 10G Ethernet. Such connectors use robust designs already time tested in adverse environments to cancel noise, decrease crosstalk, and maintain signal integrity.

There is nothing new in the constant drive in electronics to make systems that are smaller, faster, and more efficient. The same is true with embedded computing, where the drive for smaller, lighter, and less power-hungry systems opens up new application possibilities. Small-form-factor systems allow use in satellites, smart munitions, missile defense, aircraft communications, UAVs, and similar applications. Such applications are highly constrained by size, weight, and power (SWaP) requirements. The intention is to create systems small enough and rugged enough for mobile field deployment.

From a connector perspective, SFF systems require connectivity that’s smaller and lighter, but still capable of multigigabit speeds, and as rugged as existing military style connectors. Other desirable attributes, such as appropriate materials selection, field reparability, and reuse of known components, lend to the success of SFF destined interconnects.  Republished from Vita Technologies (April 2014)