The differences between an industrial PC and a military PC are probably just as significant as those between consumer and industrial PCs, but these differences may not be immediately obvious.

Security

Unsurprisingly, the security demands for a military PC can be significant, with requirements for data encryption, restricted access to I/O ports and drive bays and protection against eavesdropping attacks (see TEMPEST) some of the key differences when compared to an industrial PC.

Connectivity

As a rule, an industrial computer will have similar I/O ports to a standard commercial PC, with serial ports and digital I/O being the only notable additions, whereas military computers will use the same data buses (LAN, USB, serial etc), but connectivity will be via custom lockable 38999 connectors, that have better EMC, shock and vibration properties. In addition, filtered power supplies are often used to enhance EMC performance, and specialist data buses, such as MIL-STD-1553 or ARINC 429 may also be required on military PC.

Certifications

As a minimum, industrial PCs are CE certified for EMC and safety, whereas military PCs often require DEF STAN 00-35, DEF STAN 59-411, MIL STD 810G, MIL STD 461 or TEMPEST certifications for EMC, shock and vibration. Designing systems to meet these standards is not a trivial task and is best undertaken by experienced engineers to prevent risk of project delays and additional costs.

Support

Generally speaking, customers using industrial PCs require 3-5 year availability and support when selecting a new platform, but military programs often run for 15 years. Selecting hardware and providing through-life support for military computers requires careful planning component selection during the design phase and ongoing obsolescence management for the duration of the program.

Reliability

Military computers are often used in very harsh environments and for mission-critical applications, so need to be designed to operate in extremes of temperature, shock and vibration, while maintaining a high MTBF. Although industrial computers are often used in environments where a normal PC would struggle, they are unlikely to suffer the punishment that a military PC might.

Find Out More

To learn more about any of the topics discussed, please contact one of our team on 01527 512 400 or via computers@steatite.co.uk