Thunderbolt 3

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Say goodbye to slow. Say goodbye to obsolete. Say hello to Thunderbolt 3.

Where are they now?

If you’ve tried to buy a new laptop with ExpressCard or PCMCIA connectivity recently, you’ve almost certainly been disappointed. ExpressCard and PCMCIA have gone the way of the once-ubiquitous parallel interface. That’s a problem in an avionics world that has historically relied on those interfaces. Yes, there’s USB – but for many applications, bandwidth is too low and latency is too variable – and at 30 microseconds or more, too high. And: USB doesn’t support hardware interrupts, DMA or PIO access.

The world of portable avionics devices needed something better. Much better.

 

 

 

More Speed.

  • 40Gbps Thunderbolt
    • Four lanes of PCI Express Gen 3
    • Two streams (eight lanes) of DisplayPort 1.2
  • Integrated USB 10Gbps host controller
  • Four times the data and twice the video 40 Gbps bandwidth of any other cable.

 

 

Recent government-mandated security requirements have presented a challenge to avionics interface customers in that migrating to newer operating systems and hardware creates significant technical obstacles. Availability of the Thunderbolt 3 interface significantly eases that migration for users of portable avionics devices.

 

Connectivity nirvana.

When Intel launched the Thunderbolt 3 interface, the company described it as “computer port nirvana”. Why? First, because it delivers bandwidth of 40GBps – four times the data rate of USB 3.1. How fast is that? Fast enough to download a 4K movie in 30 seconds. It uses the USB-C port – meaning it will work with almost any device. It delivers latency of less than a microsecond. Thunderbolt 3 will also provide up to 100 watts of charging power. Oh, and: it supports daisy-chaining. And hardware interrupts. And DMA. And PIO access. What’s not to like?

Thunderbolt 3 does almost anything you’d want an interface to do.

  FORM FACTOR BANDWIDTH LATENCY H/W INTERRUPTS DMA SUPPORT DIRECT PIO ACCESS
Thunderbolt 3 External
Up to 40 Gbps

< 1usec

Yes

Yes

Yes
USB 2.0 (HighSpeed) External  
480 Mbps Half-duplex

 
 
Highly variable, but min. polling interval is 125 usec
Not Supported Not Supported Not Supported
USB 3.0 (SuperSpeed) External  
5 Gbps Full-duplex

 
 
Highly variable, avg. latencies approx. 30 usec
Not Supported Not Supported Not Supported
USB 3.1 (w/ USB-C connector) External  
10 Gbps Full-duplex

 
 
Highly variable, avg. latencies approx. 30 usec
Not Supported Not Supported Not Supported
Ethernet External  
Variable, depending on bus rate, packet size, & network
 
Extremely variable

 
Not Supported Not Supported Not Supported
PCI Bus-based  
Up to 66M words/sec

< 1usec

Yes

Yes

Yes
PCI-Express - Gen 3 Bus-based
8.0 Gbit/sec per lane

< 1usec

Yes

Yes

Yes
 

The speed and features of bus-based. The convenience of cable. Thunderbolt 3 is now available for Abaco portable avionics devices.

 

Four – and counting.

Abaco was first portable avionics device supplier to see the opportunity that Thunderbolt 3 presented for our customers. The launch of the RCEI-830A-TB with support for ARINC 429, ARINC 615-3 dataloader, ARINC 717, ARINC 575 and selected 2-wire, 32-bit protocols and the QPM-1553-TB was quickly followed by the launch of the RCNIC-A2PA-TB for AFDX/ARINC 664 Part 7 protocol traffic applications and the RAR15XF-TB - the highest density portable MIL-STD-1553 and ARINC 429 device available.

And: there’s more to come.

Thunderbolt 3 for:

  • Data loading
  • Flightline
  • Test and simulation, SIL
  • Embedded

Thunderbolt 3 for:

  • MIL-STD-1553
  • ARINC 429
  • ARINC 664/AFDX
  • Multi-protocol

Thunderbolt 3 for:

  • Ultimate performance
  • High density
  • Portability
  • Seamless support for existing BusTools and Abaco APIs

Thunderbolt 3 for:

  • Today
  • Tomorrow
  • Next year
  • Next decade
 

We just dropped in your data loader, and it worked the same as our existing solution.

- a major aircraft manufacturing company.
 

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

Engineers using avionics data bus interfaces and data loaders are facing a growing problem: the demise of the PCMCIA and ExpressCard interfaces, and the inadequacy of USB as an alternative. There is, however, a way forward.

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