What Are the dimensions of a VPX board?

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In the big world of computing, there's a small but mighty player; the VPX board. This little powerhouse is found in many places. From aerospace and defense to communication and industrial automation, VPX boards are integral parts of these systems for smooth working.

The VPX standard, also known as VITA 46, has been around since 2007, when it was introduced by the VITA Standards Organization. Since then, it has steadily gained popularity, with the global VPX market projected to reach USD 1.5 billion by 2025.

A major part of the VPX board's appeal lies in its unique dimensions and the performance capabilities they enable.

VPX boards come in different sizes, each designed to suit specific needs. The VPX board’s dimensions are not just about physical size. They're about how this format enables advanced technologies like BGA assembly, rigid-flex PCB manufacturing, and load board PCB, which are needed for achieving the high performance and reliability that VPX is known for.

In this blog post, we'll provide a comprehensive overview of a VPX board's dimensions, their role in performance, and why they're needed.

So let's get started!

VPX Boards; What Are They?

VPX boards, also known as VITA 46, are a type of rugged, high-speed interconnect standard widely used in high-performance embedded computing systems. They are designed to operate in harsh environments and extreme conditions, making them ideal for sectors such as military and aerospace, industrial, and communication markets.

The 'VPX' in VPX boards stands for “VMEbus switched fabric protocol.” These boards use the latest connector technology to implement high-speed protocols like PCI Express, RapidIO, and Ethernet over the backplane.

One important feature of VPX boards is the use of BGA assembly. BGA is a type of surface-mount packaging used for integrated circuits. Load board PCBs, on the other hand, are essential elements in any system, keeping it in top running shape.

  •          Sizes of VPX Boards

VPX boards come in several sizes, but the most common are 3U and 6U. The smaller 3U boards are often used in space-constrained applications, while the larger 6U boards provide more space for additional components and functionality.

  •          Manufacturing of VPX Boards

VPX boards are manufactured using advanced techniques such as rigid-flex PCB manufacturing, which combines the strength of rigid PCBs with the flexibility of flex circuits.

They also undergo BGA assembly, where ball grid array (BGA) components are attached to the board for high-density connections.

Load board PCB is used during testing to ensure the board functions as expected under different loads.

What Are the Dimensions of the VPX Board?

The dimensions of VPX boards are standardized by the VITA (VMEbus International Trade Association) 46 standard. As mentioned before, the two most common sizes are 3U and 6U.

A 3U VPX board measures 100mm x 160mm, while a 6U VPX board measures 160mm x 233.35mm. The 'U' in 3U and 6U refers to the height unit in a standard rack mounting system, where 1U is 44.45mm.

The BGA assembly in VPX boards provides more interconnection pins than dual in-line or flat packages, and load board PCB helps in testing and optimizing power delivery.

The dimensions of a VPX board depend on several factors;

  •          Application Requirements

The choice between a 3U or 6U board largely depends on the specific application requirements it's being used for.

Smaller 3U boards are often used in space-constrained applications, while the larger 6U boards provide more space for additional components and functionality.

  •          Design of The System

The system architecture can also influence the size of the VPX board. For instance, systems that require more processing power or connectivity may opt for larger boards.

  •          Cooling Considerations

Cooling is a major factor in high-performance computing systems. Larger boards can often dissipate heat more effectively, influencing the board size choice.

  •          Connector Size & Placement

A 6U VPX board features six 16-column 7-row RT2/RVPX connectors and one 8-column 7-row RT2/RVPX connector, while a 3U board features two 16-column 7-row RT2/RVPX connectors.

The size and placement of these connectors influence the overall dimensions of the board.

  •          Manufacturing Process

The manufacturing process, such as rigid-flex PCB manufacturing, is important in determining the dimensions of a VPX board.

 Rigid-flex PCB manufacturing allows for a combination of rigid and flexible sections on the board, impacting its size and shape while providing increased reliability and durability.

Benefits of VPX Boards

VPX boards offer many benefits, some of which include the following;

  •          Interoperability

VPX boards, particularly the ones that follow OpenVPX standards, offer significant benefits in terms of interoperability. Interoperability is the ability of various systems and devices to work together smoothly, which can be important in complex industrial environments. The use of BGA assembly in VPX boards contributes to this interoperability.

One of the key factors contributing to the interoperability of VPX boards is the use of rigid-flex PCB manufacturing. This advanced manufacturing technique allows for the creation of boards that are strong and flexible.

  •          Modularity

Modularity is one of the most prominent benefits of VPX boards, particularly those adhering to the OpenVPX standard. Modularity refers to the design technique of subdividing a system into smaller parts called modules that can be independently created and used in different systems to drive functionality and performance.

This makes it easy to use, upgrade and maintain. If a single module fails or needs an upgrade, it can be replaced without affecting the rest of the system. This reduces downtime and makes the system more cost-effective in the long run.

BGA assembly enables high interconnection density on the VPX boards, contributing to their modularity. Load board PCBs support the modularity of VPX boards by testing and validating their performance.

Rigid-flex PCB manufacturing further enhances the modularity of VPX boards.

  •          Backward Compatibility

Backward compatibility is the ability of a system or product to work with or use interfaces from older versions of the same system or product.

With backward compatibility, organizations can upgrade their systems by replacing only the outdated components rather than having to invest in an entirely new system. The use of BGA assembly in VPX boards contributes to this backward compatibility.

Load board PCBs ensure reliable operation when integrated with older systems.

This not only saves money but also reduces waste. Also, products designed with backward compatibility in mind tend to have a longer lifespan, as they can be upgraded and adapted to changing needs over time.

Final Words!

Understanding the size and design constraints for VPX is critical to ensure the best performance. Given their standardized sizes and form factors, VPX boards are designed to deliver superior performance, modularity, and backward compatibility, making them an ideal choice for numerous industries, including defense, aerospace, and telecommunications. And advanced manufacturing techniques such as rigid-flex PCB manufacturing further enhance the versatility and robustness of these boards.

As the demand for more compact, efficient, and powerful computing systems continues to grow, we can expect to see even more advancements in VPX technologies.

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