Military Embedded Systems

Rugged chassis from GMS replaces multiple workstations via virtual machine technology


September 05, 2014

John McHale

Editorial Director

Military Embedded Systems

RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. General Micro Systems, Inc. (GMS) engineers have developed a rugged, conduction-cooled, secure virtual machine (SVM) server that has six hardware independent I/O modules. The Tarantula, developed to replace multiple workstations with one box via the use of virtual machine technology, leverages an enterprise-level Layer 2 or Layer 3 intelligent switch for high-speed connectivity.

The solution consists of a host CPU module and 18-port intelligent Gigabit Ethernet switch module --each housed in one low-profile, lightweight package that is smaller than a shoe box, company officials say. Tarantula is targeted at applications that require ultra-efficient information sharing between several computers serving varied purposes.

“The ability to consolidate many computers performing different functions and its multi-port intelligent switch make Tarantula perfect for the military,” says Ben Sharfi, CEO of GMS. “The U.S. Army selected Tarantula for the MRAP Night Vision program, because the six virtual machines can control real-time video, defensive counter measures and other critical operations – all in one small chassis. Plus, the system is CHS listed so procurement personnel have access to it without going through the normal arduous justifications.”

It features the Intel Ivy-Bridge-EP Xeon processor as the host CPU driver and has 10 physical cores each operating as fast as 2.4 GHz, with the ability to TurboBoost to 3.0 GHz. Support for hyperthreading expands its capability to 20 logical cores. The devices dynamically allocates these cores in real-time as needed by each of as many as six virtual machines and their individual application requirements. The host CPU supports one 4-lane PCIe XMC site, one 10 Gigabit Ethernet port, four USB 3.0 and two USB2.0 ports with power, two serial ports with RS-232/422/485 buffers, full HD-Audio, and eight general purpose I/O lines.

The product's Gigabit Ethernet switch functions are powered by a 416 MHz MIPS CPU (with 128 Mbytes of DRAM) that controls as many as 18 Gigabit Ethernet ports and a second 10 Gigabit Ethernet port, which comes with a copper or fiber option. By supporting managed Layer 2 and Layer 3 functions such as VLAN and QoS processing, it enables the delivery of differentiated services and security through intelligent frame processing and egress frame manipulation.

The CPU has as much as 128 GBytes of RAM organized into four banks of dual DDR-3 DIMM arrays with Error Correcting Code (ECC). The ECC RAM provides two-bit error detection and one bit of correction while supporting up to 1866 mega transfers/second (MTS) between CPU and memory. The 256-bit word length (four DIMMS by 64 bits) enables a peak memory transfer rate of 60 GBytes per second.

Tarantula also integrates one storage RAID controller and one auxiliary power unit (APU) with each housed in a removable canister for quick replacement. The storage unit secures as many as eight 2-TByte SATA SSD drives (16-TBytes total) in one canister for easy removal and quick transfer of critical data. The APUcan provide power per MIL-STD-704 blackout requirements, to enable shutdown if the host system power is lost. For systems not requiring an APU, a second 16-TByte SATA SSD canister can be substituted, providing 32-TBytes of storage. In applications not requiring any removable storage, a second APU canister can be added, doubling the holdup time.

Each of Tarantula’s six SVMIO sites is independent and configured as “Share Nothing Architecture,” and each is connected to the host CPU via PCI-Express lanes only. In other words all I/O transactions are monitored, with all access being authorized by the host CPU, using a trusted platform module (TPM) and trusted execution technology (TXT). The GMS solutions is further secured by a tamper-proof function that recognizes unfamiliar access of software, boot or BIOS, and locks the system, only allowing restart with a controlled reauthorization process. It also allows an authorized user to “zero-ize” the system, placing all data and programs at zero.

An AES 256 hardware encryption option provides security if one of the drives becomes compromised. The system itself – along with the removable canisters – remains enclosed by hermetically sealed connectors making changes in the field as safe as in the lab.

The company's RuggedCool Technology enables the Tarantula server to operate from -40 to +85 degrees Celsius at full load without overwhelming the CPU. Tarantula is compliant to MIL-STD 810-G, MIL-STD 1275D, MIL-STD 461E, MIL-S 901D, DO-160D, and IP66. It is available in quantity starting at $28,000 and will ship 18 weeks ARO. GMS can optionally install operating or application system software if requested.

For more information, visit


Featured Companies

General Micro Systems, Inc.

8358 Maple Pl
Rancho Cucamonga, California 91730