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Context: The customer is designing an upgrade to the Multi-mode Radar for their flagship Remotely Piloted Aircraft to provide high-resolution, photographic-quality imagery through clouds, rain, dust, smoke, and fog. This Radar upgrade is on a fast track to implementation and is expected to go from design concept to the field in under two years. The data storage architecture is based on leading edge PCIe technology. MSS is their partner for a rugged dual write lockable 6u VPX data storage module containing both SATA and PCIe Solid State Drives (SSD)

Problem: The customer’s system does not provide a PCIe clock path to the drive, and therefore their specification requires the drive to have its PCIe clock. While in the Bid and Proposal process MSS discovered that while Commercial grade SSD’s have clocking technologies that would support this system architecture, Industrial grade SSD’s available at the time required for extended thermal operation requirements did not support this function. This capability would not be available in the market on a timeframe that would help the customer’s committed delivery milestones to the US DOD.

Solutions: MSS contacted the customer immediately upon discovering this information via discussions with their supply base and changed their bid compliance; significantly delaying an award that was in process and expected that week. MSS worked with the customer to modify their specification allowing to proceed on all other aspects of development so that when the PCIe drive that met their existing clocking architecture became available, it could be incorporated in a very short timeframe.

Outcomes: Ultimately the commercial market release of the Industrial grade SSDs with compliant clocks was delayed several times as the rest of the product was developed, but since MSS, MSS’s suppliers, and the customer were in close contact throughout the process the customer was able to anticipate the delays and eventually make the decision to modify their system architecture to mitigate schedule risk. Once that was done MSS was able to incorporate Industrial Grade SSDs compliant to the new customer requirements quickly and within the timeframe required by the US DOD.

Context: Older IFE systems are fielded in commercial airliners worldwide with 3.5” COTS Fibre Channel and SCSI Hard Drives. Due to the DO-160 environment, the rotating hard drives are prone to failure. As part of long term servicing contracts, the customer needs to replace these drives as they break down. As SCSI and Fibre Channel drives reached end-of-life (EOL) and the commercial computing industry no longer supported new versions, the customer was faced with procuring several million dollars of EOL inventory to support service contracts.

Strategies Described: Replace SCSI & Fibre Channel Hard Drives with more reliable and modern SATA Solid State Drives that mimic the existing hard drives. This was done using 2.5” SATA drives packaged into an enclosure, or sled, that is the same size, weight, mounting and interface as the old hard drive. The SATA drive is converted through a PCBA within the sled to communicate in the native FC or SCSI language.

Challenges: Matching the weight & center of gravity of the Original Drives so that the customer’s system parameters did not change to require re-qualification of the overall system. Meeting DO-160 environmental requirements including EMI, Flammability, Shock and Vibration and ESD. Modifying commercial conversation hardware to fit on a PCBA that is configured to meet drop-in replacement requirements.

Outcomes: Reduction of failure rates by going to a solution with no moving parts. Addition of special firmware that allows the customer to get SATA health status reporting that was never available via FC or SCSI so that maintenance events could be predicted and scheduled rather than performed as a reaction to a field failure. Avoidance of System requalification. They have avoided multi-million dollar procurement of EOL inventory.