By Jonathan Ray | January 1, 2014
The following issues are concerns for engineers working in the avionics industry today. Holt has addressed these issues with carefully thought-out product definitions and roadmaps.
In avionics, low fuel and power costs equate to flying longer distances, or maximizing profit margins. A major initiative in the avionics market is the goal to reduce overall system cost through several metrics: size, weight, power, and cost (SWaP-C). The Holt IC product line follows this initiative through a product development strategy based on integration at the IC level - integration of external components into the IC, and combination of multiple functions into a single IC. This strategy yields a space savings for lower cost, and smaller footprint implementations.
Lightning strikes on planes during flight are a common occurrence. As state-of-the-art aircraft replace metal bodies with composite materials, the level of protection required for electronics on the airplane has risen. DO-160G was written to standardize different lightning level protection requirements. Implementations of these requirements on the IC level require extra components. At Holt IC, we have integrated these external components into the ARINC 429 receiver in order to shrink the overall footprint on the PCB. We also are the first and still the only IC vendor to integrate lightning level 3 protection into an ARINC 429 transmitter.
With the push for single high speed backbone networks on planes, data concentrators bring in multiple databus standards into one box. One relevant application is the Electronic Flight Bag (EFB), a growing application that has created the need for an Aircraft Interface Device (AID) that brings several different avionics databuses into a single box as a security firewall between the avionics network, and the cockpit and cabin networks. Holt IC is working on a single integrated IC with multiple avionic databuses, processor, RAM, and memory to address this data concentrator/bridging application. Another example that is addressed by the same development is the bridging of ARINC 429 and MIL-STD-1553 databuses. The integration of databuses is typically done with many IC and external components taking up much real estate on a PCB. The Holt solution will be a single IC saving space and allowing a small form factor.
The software certification process can ADD upwards to 75 percent of the total project cost. This cost is proportional to the number of lines of code, and therefore minimizing the code can bring great savings. Holt IC has introduced many products that can minimize or even completely eliminate software certification through hardware protocol ICs that replace FPGAs, ICs that auto manage the network based on settings initialized from EEPROMs, or even ICs that read sensors and translate them into scheduled packets onto an ARINC 429 bus.
Generally, the avionics market is slower paced with a large and diverse customer base. Projects can take many years to go to production, and continue manufacturing for 20+ years. In a market where the product development could take many years, the risk of obsolescence by the time the product goes into production is very real. Holt IC understands the avionics market, and makes product longevity a priority.