New Technologies Rocket from ESC to Outer Space

ESC is always the best place to see the latest and greatest in embedded electronics here in the states. When touring the ESC exhibit floor, I am always interested, and sometimes amazed, to see how much the form factors of printed circuit boards (PCBs), connectors, and myriad other components have shrunk, and this year was no different.

AT, Baby AT, ATX, eATX, MicroTCA, AdvancedTCA, CompactPCI, VME, VPX, PC/104, ITX, Pico-ITX, and pico-ITXe—all these form factors and more have at one time or another marked a significant forward progression in computing technology. Today, smaller, lighter, cooler, and more powerful is the name of the game; and, as we march into the future, it’s what we can expect more of, both in commercial and military environments.

The Kontron booth is one of my favorite places to visit on the ESC show floor, to see just how small a computer can get. This board maker has been in the industry since 1962 and currently employs roughly 2,500 people across the globe. (Rumor has it that the industry giant is poised to make another acquisition, so stay tuned!)

3 Galileo Satellite System

3 Galileo Satellite System

Kontron embedded computing hardware are well suited to a wealth of mil-aero applications—in part, due to Kontron’s technical design expertise in meeting size, weight, and power (SWaP) requirements and ruggedized commercial-of-the-shelf (COTS) systems. Kontron’s products have been employed in many mil-aero systems and programs, including: Galileo, one of the world’s most advanced Global Navigation Satellite Systems; a Royal Air Force (RAF) and UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) program in which a single pilot successfully flew several unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) from the cockpit of a Tornado military jet; and EADS Space Transportation’s temperature control system and experiment containers for the DECLIC (Device for the study of Critical Liquids and Crystallization) materials research project conducted onboard the International Space Station (ISS).

How do Kontron innovators design all this bleeding-edge technology? Dedicated staff, innovative ideas, and Mentor Graphics software. According to Christine Van De Graaf, Product Manager, Kontron’s Embedded Modules Division, Mentor Graphics software is the cornerstone of the company’s product design software pipeline. Expedition Enterprise printed circuit board software coupled with the Hyperlynx solution from Mentor Graphics assists Kontron design engineers in producing some of the coolest products on the ESC show floor!

I look forward to upcoming exhibitions to see what new geek eye-candy they have invented with the help of electronic design automation (EDA).

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Posted May 20th, 2010, by

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About J. VanDomelen Mil/Aero Blog

J. VanDomelen holds a Bachelor of Science in Information Systems and myriad certifications from Microsoft, Cisco, and CompTia in varying facets of computer software, hardware, and network design and implementation. He has worked in the electronics industry for more than 12 years in varied fields, including advanced systems design of highly technical military and aerospace computer systems, semiconductor manufacturing, open source software development, hardware design, and rapid prototyping. J. VanDomelen Mil/Aero Blog

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Commented on May 24, 2010 at 1:42 pm
By Courtney E. Howard

The mystery is solved!

High-level Kontron executives alluded to, but could not reveal, a pending acquisition during ESC 2010 in San Jose. The industry was buzzing with guesses as to the latest company to be included under Kontron’s expanding umbrella….

The news was revealed just this past Friday, May 21. Kontron has acquired (drumroll, please)… industry giant AP Labs! Kudos for keeping it quiet throughout the process (

The mind reels at what this news means for the military and aerospace industry…

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