Obsolescent technology needed: Navy needs old computer boards to keep ship systems running

PORT HUENEME, Calif., 17 Sept. 2013. U.S. Navy shipboard electronics experts are sending word out to industry that they need 180 6U VME single-board computers, which first were introduced nine years ago and are no longer recommended by the manufacturer, to keep weapon systems on surface warships in working order.

Sep 17th, 2013
Obsolescent technology needed: Navy needs old computer boards to keep ship systems running
Obsolescent technology needed: Navy needs old computer boards to keep ship systems running

Posted by John Keller

PORT HUENEME, Calif., 17 Sept. 2013. U.S. Navy shipboard electronics experts are sending word out to industry that they need 180 6U VME single-board computers, which first were introduced nine years ago and are no longer recommended by the manufacturer, to keep weapon systems on surface warships in working order.

Officials of the Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Port Hueneme Division in Port Hueneme, Calif., has issued a request for quote (RFQ: N63394-13-T-0050) for 180 PowerXpress PPC8A Power PC-based 6U VME embedded computing boards, made by GE Intelligent Platforms in Huntsville, Ala.

The PPC8A originally was introduced by Radstone Technology in 2004. It has four levels of ruggedization, two PCI Mezzanine Board (PMC) slots, as much as 1 gigabyte of solid-state memory, a Freescale Power Architecture 7447 microprocessor that runs at 1.2 GHz, Gigabit Ethernet interconnects. GE acquired Radstone in 2006.

NSWC Port Hueneme installs, maintains and upgrades weapon systems aboard Navy surface warships and Coast Guard cutters, including missiles, missile launchers, and radar systems.

The PPC8A, introduced by Radstone in February 2004 is designed for the more benign end of the defense and aerospace market, such as sheltered applications, GE officials say. The board is a technology insertion package for existing PowerXpress users, offering the same features and pin-out as previous versions.

The board has six serial channels, three Ethernet ports (including one Gigabit capable port), four USB ports, plus on-board graphics and two PMC sites. By eliminating expensive ruggedization features, the board was designed as a cost-effective solution with mission-critical services for military and aerospace programs.

Among the board's list of features is a provision for obsolescence management, which involves activities to mitigate the effects of obsolescence, such as last-time buys, lifetime buys, and obsolescence monitoring.

GE officials state plainly that this board is no longer recommended -- especially for new designs -- because more recent products are available. This product is in a frozen-configuration phase, and design modifications are no longer being made, GE officials say.

All responsible suppliers of the PPC8A computer board are invited to submit quotations no later than 23 Sept. 2013. Email responses to the Navy's Rachel Smith at Rachel.T.Smith@navy.mil, or Irene Becerra at Irene.Becerra@navy.mil.

For questions or concerns phone Smith at 805-228-0442, or Becerra at 805-228-0650. More information is online at https://www.fbo.gov/spg/DON/NAVSEA/N63394/N63394-13-T-0050/listing.html.

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