General Micro Systems (GMS) is redefining military electronic system architectures with the X9 Spider
General Micro Systems (GMS), the world’s leading provider of independent technology for small factor computing (SFF) drives, boards and servers, has announced the launch of the X9 Spider family of distributed, rugged computing modules to support the urgent needs of next-generation warfare. With its innovative cross-mechanical design, MOSA Thunderbolt™ interfaces, cross-platform OpenVPX compatibility, and patented LightBolt™ connectors, the X9 Spider family enables designers to decentralize, distribute, and upgrade compute, networking, storage, and artificial intelligence (AI) with speed and resources. Video wherever and however the program requires.
“Next-generation platforms such as aircraft, vehicles, UAS systems and sensors require next-generation capabilities to maximize computing resources in ways that are light, flexible, and cost-effective,” said Ben Sharafi, chief engineer and CEO of GMS. “By breaking the outdated and costly centralized chassis and board model into distributed computing units connected to Thunderbolt™ technology, the X9 Spider family gives designers powerful, as-needed capabilities to solve any computational problem in any environment – from the smallest enclosure to the largest C5ISR system.” The Rugged X9 Spider’s units are small and modular, plug and play, and flexibility emphasizes the physical and electrical limitations of the ATR chassis. The X9 unit literally fits in the palm of your hand like a cell phone.
Built for limitless scalability, the X9 Spider family is based on new, patent-pending mechanical features that allow devices to stack and connect together electrically, physically and thermally but at the speed of light (literally) with minimal signal bottlenecks. In addition, the X9 Spider connects directly to next-generation sensors without intermediate electronics – simplifying their connection to the electronic system – making the sensors themselves scalable and mountable. This kind of upgradeability gives DoD, primes, and system developers unlimited possibilities with very low upgrade costs.
No one in the rugged industry has anything like the X9 Spider because so much technology is invented and patented by GMS. The revolutionary family includes:
- Interconnection via COTS’ open standard Thunderbolt™ 4 technology, developed by Intel® and Apple®. In addition, 100Gb Ethernet over fiber connects X9 Spider modules to each other and other high-speed systems
- Two “hosts” with a range of storage and network capabilities powered by either the latest 11th generation Intel® Xeon W (Tiger Lake-H) octa-core CPU, or by NVIDIA’s Jetson AGX Orin GPGPU with ARMcore Engine, plus GPGPU CUDA and nuclei tensor
- Six (6) X9 Companion Modules including: a “workstation” with removable storage and up to 14 additional I/O positions such as MIL-STD-1553; “Switch” network with four ports of 100 Gigabit Ethernet and eight 10 Gigabit Ethernet; Storage with a removable case and up to eight high-density M.2 or U.2 SSD storage devices; “GPGPU” with NVIDIA™ RTX-5000 GPGPU and dedicated I/O module such as video frame grabber for independent driver sensors; and two X9 Spider units for the “Power” and “Cooler” units.
- Improved reliability and strength through patented QuadroLock™ Active Wedge-Lock Technology, enabling X9 Spider gear units to withstand extreme noise, vibration and harshness while simultaneously transferring heat between units for maximum cooling
- Advanced, long-range, cost-effective links through the patent-pending LightBolt™ connector, which supports Thunderbolt™ 4 fiber or copper and 100 watts of power in a single cable
The Achilles heel of a traditional ATR-style box using VME or OpenVPX cards is the lack of flexibility. The box cannot be opened or modified without rehabilitation; Changing cards requires I/O and reconnection of the backer board; Upgrades can only be done using the same card style as the chest (instead of choosing the best technical option on the market); And the box is one costly point of failure. In addition, with all functions concentrated in one box, the electrical energy and heat of the entire system are concentrated in one place.
“Not only does the X9 Spider’s interoperability lower acquisition costs, it also enables update and upgrade software to bypass restrictive one-box architectures like VME and OpenVPX, and instead use plug-and-play standards like Thunderbolt™ 4, 100 Gigabit Ethernet and USB4 Deployable said Al-Sharafi. “This decentralizes computing, power distribution and heat dissipation while improving fault tolerance through redundancy or just physical separation of critical functions. These capabilities require new mechanical and electrical innovations to achieve a truly modular, distributed and scalable system that designers will love.”
The architecture of the GMS X9 includes 22 patents either filed or granted.
Release now begins for X9-based computing engines, designed and manufactured in America
The X9 Spider-based computing modules will be available in various forms to meet the unique needs of each application. The first unit is the “X9 Spider Wearable,” which was also announced this week at AUSA2022. GMS will introduce other products from the X9 Spider family by the end of the year.
GMS has proudly designed and built the X9 Spider in America – with the same design ethos as the successful MIL-SPEC Small Form Factor (SFF) computers, plug-in cooled servers, VME and VPX single-board computers, and powerful smart displays.