Celebrating 25 years of PICMG

Welcome! PICMG is celebrating its 25th year with great momentum and many active committees. Since our founding, nine families of specifications and tens of thousands of successful collaborations have led to billions of dollars in products and solutions across a wide array of markets. We are poised to continue our efforts in solving embedded computing requirements through new and expanded open specifications.

New leadership team

The new year brings two new entrants to the PICMG management team – Valerie Andrew and Dylan Lang – who join CTO Doug Sandy, VP of marketing Justin Moll, and me as officers. Valerie – in her role as PICMG secretary – brings to the team her years of leadership experience in the embedded computing industry. She currently has a senior marketing role at Elma and is an active participant in SOSA [Sensor Open Systems Architecture consortium] and VITA. Our new treasurer, Dylan, joins us from SAMTEC, where his primary focus is open standards. He is also the secretary of the COM-HPC technical subcommittee and leads efforts at several embedded computing consortia. These two new officers bring fresh ideas, expertise, and a shared commitment to open standards and the importance of collaboration.

Embedded World in our sights

Embedded World is the largest annual event dedicated to the embedded computing industry. Last year’s event attracted more than 30,000 visitors and over 1,000 exhibitors; the 2019 numbers are expected to top last year’s. PICMG, as an international standards organization, finds this event to be one of the strongest forums for our members to meet. This year’s embedded world will facilitate many face-to-face meetings with members, potential members, and other consortia. Attendees are encouraged to visit PICMG at booth 3A-528, where we will showcase products from seventeen of our members. In addition, 40 PICMG members will have dedicated booths to show off their offerings.

Contributed articles

This issue contains four member-contributed articles that address several key markets that use PICMG-based products, including medical systems, high-energy physics, and production automation.

NAT provides an excellent overview as to why MTCA.4 is the ideal standard for X-ray laser accelerator control systems (page 16). Arbor’s article on page 8 discusses the key factors medical equipment designers need to consider when solving application requirements, and how the agility and reliability of COM Express systems address these concerns. Amphenol provides a review of next-generation backplane production technology (page 12), while Justin Moll shares an overview (page 5) of the latest MicroTCA Workshop.

Key technical initiatives for 2019

In 2018, PICMG launched an important new project, COM-HPC. This new COM specification, led by Christian Eder of Congatec, is under development in a parallel track with existing COM Express efforts. The subcommittee will be developing a next-generation COM standard and the accompanying Carrier Design Guide. The COM-HPC specification is expected to support two different module sizes: one for high-performance computing, the other for embedded computing. Initial plans include the incorporation of a new high-speed connector able to support existing and future interfaces such as PCI Express Gen 4/5 and 100 Gb Ethernet. The specification will target medium- to high-performance server-class processors. Eighteen PICMG member companies have joined the group, which is sponsored by Congatec, ADLINK, and Kontron.

In the summer of 2018, VITA and PICMG agreed to transfer Rugged COM Express to the PICMG organization in order to complete the specification. PICMG and VITA have a rich history of successful collaboration to meet industry needs. This specification will define a ruggedized version of PICMG COM.0 for harsh and mission-critical environments. The goal of the specification is to describe a 100 percent mechanical-compatible housing around a COM Express module. The team is finalizing a solid aluminum-frame design that protects the electronics against environmental influences such as moisture, dust, vibration, or EMC radiation, and operates in the extended temperature range of -40 °C to +85 °C. This effort is sponsored by MEN Micro, nVENT, and Elma.

Doug Sandy continues to lead our IIoT initiatives related to the sensor domain, which – until now – has suffered from a lack of standardization. We are moving forward with an aggressive program to advance IIoT: Our approach encourages a firewalled, secure network architecture that supports a variety of synchronization methods and a uniform data model that scales down to the sensor domain through binary encoding. Using well-established practices, the specifications will provide plug-and-play interoperability at the sensor domain to the “last foot” of the IIoT network. In March 2018, we formed an alliance with DMTF in order to extend the Redfish management API to industrial applications. Specification work on both the postage-stamp form factor and the IIoT data model efforts will commence by Q2 of 2019.

In addition to these efforts, ongoing enhancements to MicroTCA and Compact PCI Serial are also expected in 2019.

Looking ahead

I am confident that increased participation will lead to innovations which will meet our industry’s evolving needs. Whether you are currently a member or planning to become one, I encourage you to contact us at info@picmg.org and let us know how we can work together.

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