Reliability for harsh environments

For COM Express to deliver real business benefit, it has to provide one other vital attribute: reliability. We are in the era of “always on” computing: The lights must never go out. And downtime means lost revenue. That’s a challenge in the harsh, hostile environments in which many critical infrastructure systems operate. Today’s connected world paradigm does not make a distinction between systems in stable environments such as offices and data centers, and systems deployed in harsh environments found in heavy industry, on factory floors, on drilling rigs, or on transportation systems.

These extreme industrial conditions require a ruggedized COM Express module. Specifically, they must operate in temperatures as low as -40 oC and as high as +85 oC – temperatures that are often found in oil and gas operations, for example. They must also withstand shock of up to 40g and extreme vibration from machinery or aircraft engines. Conformal coating is needed to resist the moisture, dust, and chemicals typical of industrial environments.

Designing, testing, qualifying, and manufacturing modular architectures for deployment in the hostile environments found in many critical infrastructure systems in industry is, therefore, a painstaking and rigorous process – but it is essential if maximum reliability and uptime are to be achieved. Modularity is helpful: By separating the processing module from the I/O carrier board, manufacturers can ensure that all the components on the processing module are specifically selected to meet application-specific extended temperature, shock, and vibration levels. It also becomes easier to test the module at maximum performance stress that can, for example, help the designers to reach an optimal heat sink solution with a uniform temperature profile early in the design cycle.

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