Trenton's Tech Talk (T3) - What's What Series: Ruggedized Computers
by Yazz K., on Jul 12, 2019, 9:21:55 AM
- What are they?
- How do they work?
- Why rugged?
Answers to all this and more in this blog. Let's go!
Hello and Welcome to Trenton's Tech Talk - What's What? Series. My name is Yazz and today I'll tell you all about ruggedized computers.
Let's start by building some credibility first.
Trenton Systems is a company that builds rugged servers and workstations. That includes storage servers, blade servers, expansion chassis, processor boards, PCIe backplanes, and many other cool high-performance computing products that are used around the globe across various industries and applications.
In fact, we've been building rugged computers for 30+ years. So, yes, we know a thing or two on the topic.
Okay, now that we've got that out of the way, let's make sure we know the many, MANY names ruggedized computers go by.
- rugged computers
- military computers
- rugged servers
- industrial servers
- military grade servers
- industrial grade servers
- rugged rackmount computers
- rugged mission computers
- mil-spec servers
- ruggedized servers
I can keep going, really, there's more - but I'll stop here to explain why this one product is called a dozen different things.
When I started out in the rugged computing industry, I'll admit, I knew very little. More like, close to nothing.
Hearing all these keywords describe one product just added to my confusion.
So I did what any Marketing guy would do...
I analyzed keywords, read pages on top of pages, studied metrics, reports, charts...BUT the last and greatest source of information I fortunately had at my fingertips helped me the most: Engineers!
That's right! I sat down with our in-house engineers, asked questions and started to take notes. It helped me organize my thoughts about...what's what.
Sadly, I still hear some of our customers struggle with the same problem. Some customers call it a server, some a computer, and depending on what industry they're in, they may call about rugged military servers, while others, calling about the same product, refer to them as industrial servers.
We've all been there, no one likes to be wrong, so you call it whatever we call it on the website, even though in your world it may be called something completely different.
Well, I intend to do something about this. I'd like to once and for all remove this confusion.
So, here it is, in all it's glory.
This specific model consists of a rugged single board computer which plugs into a PCIe backplane which grants you all these PCIe slots for whatever option cards you may need. All protected by a 4U rugged rackmount chassis.
Question: Which one of these three components: single board computer, PCIe backplane, or rugged computer chassis, make this a rugged computer system?
Answer: they all do.
The way the backplane is attached to the chassis and the way the chips, slots, switches, etc. are designed, and how the SBC connects into the backplane, and how it's held in place by the rugged chassis is all part of a ruggedized computer.
Now how's it different from a regular PC?
If you took a desktop PC out into the desert and left it there in the scorching sun or decided to drop it into the sand, it would fail almost instantly.
One, from the drop itself, two from the heat, and three - the enclosure is most likely poorly designed to keep things out and away from internal components like dust, debris, and so on and so forth.
This enclosure, or chassis, or as some refer to it as the case - is made of rugged, yet lightweight aluminum, it's strategically assembled to keep dust, debris, and other unwanted objects out of the chassis and away from vital internal components. It's like your sternum protecting your heart.
The heat sinks and fans you see internally are also where they are for optimal efficiency. They keep the system cool when things get hot, they take in cool air and blow out hot air. A seamless airflow to keep the vital chips, switches, etc. at most favorable temp levels while in operating and non-operating mode.
We talked about shock and vibe, imagine if I dropped this, you'd think things would come loose, but our engineers make sure to fasten, secure, and again, stress-test for those scenarios and then innovate to stop it from happening IF anything happens at all.
That's why hold-down bars exist to keep things in place. That's why we design backer-plates and mold them onto the SBC to keep it from bending, that's why our connectors are enforced to keep your DIMM slots and other plug in pieces in place.
This ruggedized computer has been stress-tested for harsh environmental conditions, then tweaked over and over and over again until it can perform at max output without issues.
To make things even more assuring for our customers, once we've tested things out - we send it to a 3rd party compliance testing lab and they beat it up even more. Then we get it back along with a certificate of approval.
There are plenty certifications our customers demand that our products pass - some are required by the application and others are required by law, you can learn more about each in the links below, but long story short - this ruggedized supercomputer can take a punch. It can take the heat. Doesn't mind humidity, and loves cold climates. It's like your all-time travel companion - no matter what you throw at it or where you put it, it does what it came to do - it computes and computes until you tell it not to.
There you have it.
Each individual component serves its purpose while also working together to make sure everything is in perfect harmony when things get wild.
That's what a ruggedized computer is, does, and is made of.
Thanks for joining me on Trenton's Tech Talk: What's What series about ruggedized computers. Hope you've learned a thing or two and before you leave, click that subscribe button and follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.
Leave your questions/comments below and I'll talk to you in our next blog!