VPX / OpenVPX Backplanes

VPX backplanes are advanced interconnect solutions used in defense applications for high-performance computing and networking. Integral components of rugged computing systems, VPX backplanes employ a standardized architecture, such as OpenVPX, facilitating interoperability and scalability among embedded computing modules.
Overview VPX / OpenVPX Backplanes
By Mike Ball Last updated: May 17th, 2024

VPX backplanes are printed circuit boards that provide physical and electrical connections between plug-in cards, memory, I/O, peripherals and other devices, according to the VITA 46 set of standards. They take advantage of the innovations provided by VPX technology, such as support for switched-fabric networking and high-speed connectors.

Thanks to high data rates, VPX backplanes are widely used for military embedded computing, especially for applications requiring high speeds and significant amounts of data transfer. These use cases may include ISR (intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance), SIGINT (signals intelligence), EW (electronic warfare) and radar processing.

3U & 6U VPX Backplanes

VPX backplane designs may accept cards or boards that are 3U or 6U in size.

  • 3U VPX backplanes are smaller and lighter, making them ideal for small drones, aircraft avionics, and portable computing systems.
  • 6U VPX backplanes provide greater capacity and can handle higher-power subsystems, making them highly suited to compute-intensive applications such as radar, AI (artificial intelligence) and GPGPU (general-purpose graphics processing unit) computing.

OpenVPX Backplanes

Gen4/5 OpenVPX Backplane Series by Atrenne Computing Solutions

Gen4/5 OpenVPX Backplane Series by Atrenne Computing Solutions

OpenVPX backplanes are based on a set of standards that were derived from VPX and designed to make it easier to create interoperable systems, especially for U.S. Department of Defense and military requirements.

OpenVPX backplane architecture standardizes a number of elements to help ensure interoperability, including slot and module profiles. This in turn allows systems integrators to choose components from a wider variety of vendors, and reduces reliance on a single source.

OpenVPX is an evolving standard, and fits in with the Sensor Open Systems Architecture (SOSA) standard used widely by the U.S. military. OpenVPX backplanes accept SOSA-aligned cards that can be easily swapped out and upgraded as technological progression occurs.