Military Embedded Systems

Thunderbolt 3: a path forward for avionics data bus interfaces and Abaco’s ARINC 615-3 data loader

Whitepaper

August 28, 2020


It’s no secret that the expansion slot capability available on commercial laptops has changed dramatically over the past ten years. PC Card™ slots (also commonly referred to as PCMCIA slots) have all but vanished and it’s rare to find Express Card slots. Thunderbolt ports are now gaining in popularity for high-performance peripheral support. 

For avionics engineers, avionics technicians and other aerospace technical professionals who rely on commercial laptops to do their jobs, the rapid change in available expansion capability can make routine tasks like loading software updates to an aircraft computer a challenge.

For Abaco’s ARINC 615-3 data loader users, the disappearance of ExpressCard and PC Card slots has given way to the desire to use USB. Unfortunately, USB device access latency is a key impediment.

The headaches of migrating to new computer hardware and operating systems also present some significant hurdles to overcome. On top of that, the always-present pressure to do more with less can put a strain on efficiency when engineers must compete internally for budget.

This white paper looks at a possible solution to these challenges.

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