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Two UAVs hover over a desert

Rugged Servers for Military UAVs: Powering an Automated Missile Tracking System

About the Project

A major defense contractor needed rugged rack mount servers to process high-resolution video data collected by an automated missile tracking system’s sensor hardware, located on board a prominent military drone, or unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).

These servers would ultimately be situated in the fuselage of the UAV – at upwards of 60,000 feet during operation - and be responsible for:

  • Processing the data recorded by the UAV’s sensors, used to track missiles as they travel outside of Earth’s atmosphere and down to their targets
  • Sending the UAV’s sensor data back to an engineering team for analysis

The contractor approached Trenton Systems with the following requirements: 3U ruggedized chassis, high-end Intel Core i7 processors or better, at least 32GB of memory, 2TB or higher PCIe SSDs, hardware RAID controllers, at least 4 USB 3.0 ports, at least 2 10GbE fiber-optic ports, at least 2 1GbE ports, discrete GPUs, frame grabbers, at least 1 open PCIe slot, at least 1 serial port, and a Linux or Windows 10 OS.

A military drone hovering over a missile in flight

The Problem

The contractor expressed concerns over certain hardware reliability and security issues encountered with other vendors. As a customer providing a mission-critical rugged computing solution to the military, the contractor valued that Trenton could better ensure the quality, reliability, and security of its rugged computing solutions by designing, manufacturing, assembling, integrating, testing, and supporting its products and components in the USA.

In addition, the contractor needed to secure a quality, RAID-10-capable hardware RAID controller with a low likelihood of failure. They expressed dissatisfaction with the performance of previous RAID controllers, adding that their faultiness had resulted in single points of failure in the field. A quality RAID controller would also help the customer achieve the desired level of fault tolerance and speed for the drives in their system's RAID array.

The contractor also needed to ensure that the servers could fit inside their custom enclosures, as well as ensure that the servers were equipped with frame grabbers, for capturing still images from the tracking system’s high-resolution video stream; discrete, high-performance GPUs, for efficient rendering; and two 10GbE fiber-optic ports, for quality, high-speed data transmission.

The Goal

  • Provide the contractor with secure rugged servers capable of fitting inside their custom enclosures aboard the drone
  • Ensure that the contractor receives quality hardware RAID controllers capable of supporting a RAID 10 array
  • Acquire suitable I/O cards for frame grabbers, GPUs, and 10GbE fiber-optic ports
  • Equip the contractor’s systems with adequate storage, memory, slots, and CPUs to support the high-speed data storage and processing needs of their highly demanding, video-intensive application

The Challenge

The greatest challenges posed to Trenton were ensuring that the customer’s high-resolution video and imagery requirements were met, that the proposed systems would be able to fit inside the customer’s custom enclosures aboard the UAV, and that the systems themselves could effectively and efficiently provide key computational insights from a continuous stream of high-resolution video data for many years to come.

The Result

Trenton Systems provided the contractor with TRS3501 rack mount servers. These specific servers are true data processing powerhouses, equipped with dual Intel Xeon Silver CPUs, 64GB of DDR4 memory, dozens of terabytes of high-speed NVMe storage, NVIDIA Quadro GPUs, RAID-10-capable hardware RAID controllers, high-performance frame grabbers, and fiber-optic-capable, quad-port, 10GbE SFP+ network adapters.

Not only did these lightweight 3U rugged servers fit perfectly into the contractor’s enclosures, but they allowed for front-access to the NVMe SSDs for any necessary hot-swapping from the RAID 10 array, which further provided the customer with a balanced mix of fault tolerance and read-write speeds using RAID 10’s mirroring and striping technologies.

After taking advantage of Trenton Systems’ industry-leading loaner program, the contractor had secured durable, secure, long-life, high-performance, made-in-USA rugged computing solutions that would, for years to come, provide key insights based on the video and imagery data collected by the UAV missile tracking system’s sensor hardware.

For more information about the TRS3501 and how it can support your program or application, check out the TRS3501 datasheet or contact us today.

TRS3501 Datasheet

Contact Us Today

*Due to strict non-disclosure agreements in place, we are prohibited from mentioning company and/or project names.

Trenton Systems' 3U rugged servers, more specifically, the internal view of a TRS3501 rugged server, a popular 3U rugged server manufactured by Trenton

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"Overall the process was very easy. I have ordered 4 systems over the past few months. One system came in with a damage and you are working to get it repaired in as timely a process as can be done."

Raytheon

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