FACE conformance becoming a necessityStory
January 20, 2020
The U.S Air Force hosted the FACE and SOSA Expo and Technical Interchange Meeting (TIM) event in Dayton, Ohio
during September 2019 to see the progress being made in both the Future Airborne
Capability Environment (FACE) and the Sensor Open System Architecture (SOSA)
consortia, which are managed by The Open Group. The roundtable below consists
of members of the FACE Consortium who exhibited at the TIM. The panelists
discuss the growth of the FACE Registry of conformant products, made on the
aerospace market, how FACE 3.0 supports running multi-threaded applications
across multiple cores; and proving the extensibility of FACE to the connected
This month’s panelists are Richard
Jaenicke, director, Marketing, Safety and Security-Critical Products, Green
Hills Software; Raymond Petty, vice president, Global Aerospace & Defense,
Wind River; Chip Downing, senior market development director, Aerospace &
Defense, RTI; and Roy Keeler, senior product and business development manager,
Aerospace & Defense, ADLINK Technology.
MILITARY EMBEDDED SYSTEMS:
The FACE/SOSA Expo and TIM was held in September in Dayton, Ohio, near Wright-Patterson
Air Force Base. What trends supporting the FACE initiative did you see emerging
at the event?
JAENICKE: I see two trends. First, the momentum for FACE and SOSA
technical standards is accelerating. Second, I see the avionics community
embracing multiprocessing solutions for safety-critical systems. The FACE
Technical Standard edition 3.0 requires that operating systems support running
multithreaded applications across multiple cores. Running on multiple cores
provides the flexibility needed to realize the performance and SWaP [size,
weight, and power] benefits of avionics applications on multicore processors.
Avionics integrators still need to be careful in the selection of a FACE-conformant
operating system, though, because simple support of multithreaded applications
does not mean it is supported for a high design assurance level (DAL), such as
DAL A, B, or C.
PETTY: Reinforcement that FACE solutions are becoming a reality
and conformance is becoming a necessity was heard loud and clear. This is
especially the case for the Army and Navy, whereas the Air Force seems less
“all-in” and still utilizing OMS [Open Mission Systems]. Compared to last year’s event in Huntsville, this year
seemed like a dramatic leap in terms of the amount of demonstrations and
real-world solutions – confirming that FACE/SOSA were no longer just an
academic exercise. From an operating system perspective, the changes in the
FACE Standard from v2.1.1 and v3.0 by way of pointing to ARINC 653 standard
updates, requires more in terms of multicore design, which results in an
advantage for solutions that have received FACE v3.0 conformance.
DOWNING: A significant trend I saw [regarding FACE] emerging at
this year’s event was the expansion of the FACE conformant products library.
ADLINK, Collins Aerospace, DDC-I, Dornerworks, Green Hills, Harris, Honeywell,
Raytheon, Real-Time Innovations (RTI), Skayl, Textron, and Wind River now have FACE-certified
conformant products in the FACE Registry. It was quite gratifying to walk
around the FACE and SOSA Expo and TIM and see the large number of FACE products
ready for deployment.
KEELER: I see increased interest
from companies outside the traditional VME/VPX supply chain who are
investigating how FACE/SOSA can be applied to different form factors and how
these products might fit into the FACE/SOSA ecosystem.
MILITARY EMBEDDED SYSTEMS:
Why is FACE so important to the military end user, the prime contractors, and
the embedded hardware and software providers?
JAENICKE: The value to the military
end user is new capabilities fielded much faster because of the modularity,
portability, and reuse enabled by the FACE Technical Standard. Prime
contractors benefit as well from the modularity and reuse because a single
component can now be used on multiple platforms instead of needing a new design
for each platform. The modularity enables rapid insertion, speeding the time to
production and time to money. Embedded hardware and software suppliers benefit
from the more explicit definition of what programs want when they specify the
FACE Technical Standard as well as the broadening market for COTS [commercial off-the-shelf)
solutions when programs require adherence to modular open standards approaches
PETTY:It is important to the military because it promotes development of software components that are portable across systems, which helps them avoid vendor
lock-in; and the military is messaging compliance to open standards if you want
to do future business with them. It does therefore promote healthy
“co-opetition” where competitors are cooperating in providing inputs into the
standards, sharing lessons learned, and working with each other on reference
implementations. The existence of FACE also incentivizes participation because
the nature of the beast is that if you don’t have a seat at the table, your
competitors are going to make sure their products meet the standards without
regard for whether or not your products do.
DOWNING: The FACE Technical Standard and business approach simply
make military end users, prime contractors, and embedded hardware and
software providers more efficient.
Military end users can
now rapidly search, procure, and install proven COTS products into their next-generation
systems faster than legacy systems, and with far lower cost and risk. Systems
integrators can now create very advanced and competitive systems with
compressed time frames and a proven supply chain with proven product interfaces.
Embedded hardware and software providers can now crisply invest in technologies
that have a well-defined marketplace and standardized capabilities
KEELER: Ever since Secretary of
Defense William Perry issued the 1994 directive – to use COTS products wherever
and whenever possible – the government and industry have strived to arrive a
true open architecture framework for military systems. FACE and SOSA will take
the industry a long way towards the objective of creating an ecosystem of
interoperable hardware and software subsystems that should help reduce system
lifecycle costs, provide greater cooperation between technology vendors and the
U.S. defense community.
MILITARY EMBEDDED SYSTEMS: Twenty FACE-certified
conformant products supplied by twelve suppliers are now in the FACE Registry,
and FACE requirements are now new military avionics contracts. What is the next
design challenge/hurdle for FACE members to overcome?
JAENICKE: The biggest challenge
confronting the FACE Consortium is working with other Modular Open System
Approaches (MOSA) such as OMS and VICTORY. Progress is being made. The first joint
session between the FACE operating system segment team and the SOSA software
working group occurred at face-to-face consortia meetings that directly
followed [this event]. That collaboration is expected to continue on a regular
basis. An example of a standards collaboration that is almost complete is between the
FACE Consortium and the Software Communications Architecture (SCA), where both
standards are adapting to accommodate the other. Support for a few additional APIs critical to the SCA
community was added to the FACE POSIX profiles, and the changes to the FACE
Technical Standard are expected in edition 3.1. Likewise, SCA will recommend
avoiding certain APIs to improve alignment further. That each organization was
willing to make changes to accommodate the other bodes well for the future of
PETTY: One primary challenge is
proving the extensibility to the increasingly connected battlefield. The “A” in
FACE is for “Airborne,” but FACE might soon extend into other domains like
ground stations, unmanned vehicles, and any number of other things. The FACE
Consortium would also like to expand into Europe and has started ensuring no
export-controlled discussions take place at meetings; however, it has now been
close to a year since there has been a request to the USG to change policies,
and there has been no indication that a response will be forthcoming.
DOWNING: Well, first we need to continue to expand the number of
FACE-certified conformant products in the FACE Registry. To prove the viability
of the FACE Technical Standard and business approach, we need to get the number
of certified conformant products to well over a couple of hundred registry
entries. I am confident that the FACE supplier ecosystem will get to the 200+
number in the FACE Registry, but it will take bit more time – this is a
well-structured, methodical process that simply takes time to achieve. The next
big thing in FACE (and SOSA) will be airworthiness and security certification.
These capabilities are referenced in the FACE Technical Standard but are not hard
FACE system requirements.
KEELER: One of the next challenges
is how to expand FACE and SOSA beyond the domestic U.S. market. There is
increased interest from the EU and NATO member countries in applying the
benefits of the standards to domestic programs. How do we protect the security
interests of the U.S. defense industry while enabling our foreign partners to
participate in the consortium?