New cooling standard boosts open architecture avionics boards

October 12, 2017 // By Nick Flaherty
Curtiss-Wright’s Defense Solutions division is working with Lockheed Martin on the implementation of a new cooling standard for use with commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) VPX avionics chassis and boards.

The VITA48 standards group recently ratified an ANSI standard for air flow through (AFT) cooling of VPX boards to significantly reduce system size, weight, power, and cost of avionics systems.while increasing the reliability of unmanned systems. 

VITA 48.8 is the first open standard AFT technology to support small form factor 3U VPX COTS modules and eliminates the use of wedgelocks and ejector/injector handles. It also supports alternative air-flow arrangements, allowing air inlet at both card edges and addressing previous design challenges such as air cooling, air flow intake, heat exchanges, and exhaust paths. Instead, the modules use a finned heat exchanger frame located within the central section of the assembly to top-cool primary circuit board and mezzanine board components. Because VITA 48.8 does not use module-to-chassis conduction cooling, new chassis can be designed with lightweight polymers or composite materials, allowing Curtiss-Wright to develop a prototype VITA48.8 chassis using a 3D printer

“Prior to the development of the ANSI/VITA 48.8 standard we were always challenged balancing the high performance processing requirements our customers needed to effectively execute their mission. We recognized that we had to maintain the SWaP-C of the system to meet reliability and mission success needs for our fixed and rotary wing platforms,” said David Vos, Lockheed Martin Fellow. “ANSI/VITA 48.8 addresses these challenges and allows us to bring state-of-the art capabilities to our warfighters while ensuring that the platforms operate reliably in all mission environments.”