White Paper

Designing SOSA™ Backplanes for the Future of Electronics

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The Cold War is a topic for history lessons, no longer a useful paradigm for defining defense programs. We now face a global adversary that is technically agile and future-focused. If our programs cannot respond at a competitive pace, our warfighters will lose the powerful technology advantage they’ve wielded for over 75 years.

Key to maintaining that advantage is the ability to rapidly insert new, more powerful technology into deployed sensor-enabled systems for radar, EO/IR, SIGINT, EW, and Communications. That is the most critical issue driving a change in defense electronics procurement, but not the only issue. The economics of new program development and deployment is also a concern, with an increasing focus on full lifecycle costs The Sensor Open Systems Architecture™ (SOSA™) is a comprehensive standard developed to address these issues and driven by the Department of Defense (DoD), with industry support. SOSA includes both Business Architecture and Technical Architecture. This paper will focus on a specific technical topic, signal integrity, leaving the discussion of planning and acquisition topics to other forums.

Backplane signal integrity is an emerging issue for new SOSA systems. The issue isn’t caused by the standard; it arises because new systems must be able to operate at very high data signaling rates to keep pace with exploding volumes of sensor-generated data. There are design techniques to mitigate the effects of signal integrity issues but effective application of those techniques demands analysis, modeling, and testing.

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