Four removable SSDs

 

Lightweight. The lightweight test is a test performed on the lightweight shock machine. Weight of the test item including fixture to attach it to the test machine shall be less than 550 pounds.

Items to be tested shall be classified in accordance with one of the following grades, as specified:

Grade A. Grade A items are items which are essential to the safety and continued combat capability of the ship.

Grade B. Grade B items are items whose operation is not essential to the safety and combat capability of the ship but which could become a hazard to personnel, to grade A items, or to the ship as a whole as a result of exposure to shock.

 

COTS - Commercial, off the shelf computers

Environmental Testing – Shock

Mil-DTL-901E LAPTOP

MIL-DTL-901E is the detailed specification of a suite of tests for high impact shock for machinery, equipment, systems and structures aboard a ship or submarine.

Mil-DTL-901E replaced MIL-S-901D in June 2017.

MIL-DTL-901E goes beyond MIL-S-901D by specifying detailed testing procedures, including diagrams and examples.

Mil-DTL-901E Laptop test:

  • NotePAC-III-PRO is classified as a lightweight, Grade B test
  • 9 Blows from 400lb hammer in 3 axis
  • Blows from 1ft, 3t, and 5ft
  • The unit was fully operational after the test

“901-E is a pretty violent test – and is usually reagrded as destructive.  The NotePAC-III-PRO booted up just fine after the test was completed.”

MIL-DTL-901E SCOPE

“This specification covers high-impact (H.I.) shock testing requirements for machinery, equipment, systems, and structures aboard surface ships, including carriers unless otherwise noted, and submarines, herein referred to collectively as “ships”. The purpose of these requirements is to verify the ability of shipboard installations to withstand shock loadings due to the effects of nuclear or conventional weapons or environmental mechanical shock during operation.”

 

The NotePAC-III-PRO falls under the category of ‘Lightweight shock test’. Three blows at hammer heights of 1, 3, and 5 feet shall be applied parallel to each of three mutually perpendicular axes of the item being tested. This is accomplished by attaching the test item by fixtures to an anvil plate and striking the anvil plate by three mutually perpendicular blows. 

3.1.10.2 Grade B items. Grade B items shall withstand shock tests conducted in accordance with this specification without creating a hazard (see 6.6.16) to personnel operating or manning Grade A equipment, including personnel at battle stations, or to Grade A items. Unless otherwise specified (see 6.2.1), the following shock test acceptance criteria shall apply to Grade B items, including all criteria identified in the definition of hazard (see 6.6.16):

a. The shock tested item, portions thereof, or the contents thereof shall not come adrift due to exposure to shock. Exceptions to this criterion, which shall be approved by the Technical Authority on a case basis, will be acceptable in cases where it can be demonstrated that the weight, shape, and all other characteristics of the item that has come adrift are such as to preclude a significant impact threat to personnel or adjacent Grade A items.

b. Injurious, flammable, radioactive, acidic, caustic, or otherwise hazardous liquids, solids, or gases shall not be released as a result of exposure of the tested item to shock. Exceptions to this criterion, which shall be approved by the Technical Authority on a case basis, will be considered in cases where it can be demonstrated that the nature, location, rate, or total possible amount of leakage is such as to prevent development of a significant threat to Grade A systems, personnel, or to the ship as a whole. In addition, and for purposes of this criterion, any fluid whose operating temperature is above 150 degrees Fahrenheit (°F) or below 0 °F shall be considered hazardous. Fluids at any temperature shall be regarded as hazardous if they might cause any electrical short.

c. Tested items shall not demonstrate a potential for fire hazards. Any evidence of electrical shorts, the release of flame, smoke, or sparks shall be cause for rejection of the tested item, unless otherwise specifically approved by the Technical Authority on a case basis.

d. It is not required that Grade B items be operable after shock testing.


 

Fanless PC Power Supply 600W

Xeon Motherboard

Up to 512GB RAM

Built With BoldGrid

Lightweight shock machine LWSM)

“The LWSM is a Navy-certified test machine that delivers multiple repeatable blows to an anvil plate to which the test system is affixed.”

NotePAC-III-PRO Computer specs:

12 Core Xeon processor, 512GB RAM, 30TB removable storage, CAC reader,

Three screens for 5760 x 1080 display scene

Two 3/4 length PCIe Slots (x16, x8)

Back-lit keyboard

Video capture card option

Nvidia Quadro P4000 option

Dual LAN with 10G SFP+ LAN (Fiber)

Dual LAN with 10Gbase-T (RJ45)

Quad LAN with Intel® Ethernet Controller I350-AM4 (RJ45)

 

multi screen Mil-DTL-901E laptop

Server class Ethernet I/o on rear panel

 

Ergonomic portable workstation with tiltable display

rear of ergonomic transportable workstation with 17" display

Expansion slots on portable workstation lunchbox style PC

Ergonomic Portable Workstation

FlexPAC-T


High-performance portable workstation with an adjustable screen

Xeon Motherboard

Multiple expansion slots

Ergonomic display tilt

 

The FlexPAC-T is a new take on a classic packaging of computer components – The Compaq Portable-III.  Tilting just the display gives a stable and ergonomic working position for the operator.  The full-sized keyboard with numeric keypad and large touchpad combine to make the FlexPAC-T a pleasure to use.  

The very high specification possible also makes crunching hard workflow on site trivial.  Up to 512GB RAM and a 22 Core Xeon CPU with 44 Threads make running numerous virtual machines easy.

Ample cooling using large quiet fans make the system nice to use for extended periods.

The industrial motherboard has a TPM2.0 connector for added security.  A variety of high-speed RAID and compression cards as well as ultra-high-speed network connections are available as options.  Standard networking ports are a single Gigabit port using the Intel® PHY I219LM LAN controller and a 5G LAN with Aquantia 5G LAN chip AQC108.

Xeon Motherboard

Intel Xeon Industrial Mother-board

Removable 7 plus TB SSD

Up to 7.68TB SSD

Up to 512GB RAM

Up to 512GB RAM

Specifications

17″ HD Tiltable display

 

  1. Intel® Xeon® Processor Skylake-W, Intel® Xeon® Processor W Family.
    Single Socket LGA-2066 (Socket R4) supported, CPU TDP support Up to 140W TDP
  2. Intel® C422
  3. Up to 256GB Registered ECC RDIMM, DDR4-2666MHz; Up to 512GB Registered ECC LRDIMM, DDR4-2666MHz, in 8 DIMM slots
  4. 3 PCI-E 3.0 x16,
    1 PCI-E 3.0 x4
    ***3xPCI-E3.0 x16 Slots(8/16/16 (Skylake-W 48 lanes), 1xPCI-E3.0x4 slots***
    M.2 Interface: 2 PCI-E 3.0 x4
    M.2 Form Factor: 22110
    M.2 Key: M-Key (RAID 0,1 support)
    *M-Key for SSD and Optane(up to Intel POR). Intel VROC licence kit is needed to enable RAID.
    U.2 Interface: 2 PCI-E 3.0 x4
  5. Intel® C422 controller for 6 SATA3 (6 Gbps) ports; RAID 0,1,5,10
    *iRST enabled, only SATA2 to SATA5 support RAID.
  6. Single LAN with Intel® PHY I219LM LAN controller
    Single LAN with Aquantia 5G LAN chip AQC108

Who We Are

Portexa LLC targets the Military, Cyber-security and Aerospace sectors for ACME Portable Machines.

 

Portexa

FlexPAC-T

Portable Workstation

Multiple expansion slots

Multiple PCIe expansion slots

Xeon Motherboard

Xeon ATX Motherboard

 

MegaPAC-RD-24

Portable Workstation


EATX Dual Xeon Portable Power.

Multi-display portable workstation MegaPAC-RD-24

Multi-display portable workstation

Introducing the MegaPAC-RD.  The all-new MegaPAC-RD is available with one, two, three or four displays.  Displays can be mounted on the left or right, and also on top of the main chassis.  In other words, the MegaPAC-RD gives the ultimate in flexibility to arrange the workspace for optimum ergonomics.  Above all, the MegaPAC-RD is the most flexible multi-display portable workstation on the planet!  Displays may also be purchased at a later date to add to capability.

Each display is 24″, and in HD boasts a 120Hz refresh rate – there are also much higher resolution displays available as options.

The NVidia Quadro graphics card supports the 3D Vision wireless glasses kit.

(part number 942‐11431‐0007‐0001)

.

Four-display transportable workstation

Technical specifications:

  • Dual Intel Xeon Gold CPUs – 3.4GHz, 6 Cores, 12 Threads each
  • 128GB RAM as standard
  • 6 PCIe Slots
  • 4 x USB 3.1 Ports
  • 4 x USB 3.0 Ports
  • Four x DP V1.4 Video Connectors
  • NVidia Quadro Graphics, 16GB
  • 120Hz Displays
  • TPM 2.0 fitted
  • Advanced RAID controller with ‘supercap’ backup

Four-display transportable workstation


Unique features

  • Up to four 120Hz 3D capable 24″ displays.
  • Single, Dual, Triple and Quad display configurations
  • Rugged, lightweight all aluminum design.
  • Advanced RAID controller supports RAID levels 0,1,5,6 and 10
  • Up to eight removable drives are supported.
  • GeoINT, C4ISR, Targeting, Situational awareness applications. 
  • This system is a fully customizable configuration including higher resolution displays.  For instance, we have made systems with broadcast quality 4K displays.
  • Similarly, there is a choice of keyboard and pointing device.
  • Wheeled transit case with custom high-grade foam for robust and reliable transportation.
  • This fast deployment high-performance workstation is powerful enough to be the main server in a deployed incident room.
  • The lockable transit case protects the system from blowing sand, dust, and rain.
  • Should you need processors with a higher core count, they are available on request.  The frequency will be reduced – contact us for processor options. 
  • The standard system contains no camera, Wi-Fi or Bluetooth radio.  Other security-related options can be included.
  • In addition – the workstation has a Trusted Platform Module chip – TPM 2.0 
  • In conclusion – if you need a portable workstation that makes a MAC PRO look like an amateur, please contact us.

A HEADING

Environmental:

Temperature MIL-STD-810G

Operating 0C to 40C

Non-Operating -25C to 70C

Cooling Filtered forced air

 

Humidity MIL-STD-810G

Operating 20% to 90% non-condensing

 

Vibration MIL-STD-810G

Operating 10 to 500Hz 0.4g (RMS)

Non-Op 10 to 500 Hz 1.12g (RMS)

 

Shock MIL-STD-810G

Operating 15G, 8ms 1/2 sine

Non-Op 40G, 8ms 1/2 Sine

 

Drop (non operating) 4in

More information

 

Dual-screen Transportable Workstation

Maximum computing power in a rugged transportable chassis 

When you need a whole lot of computing capability, and plenty of screen real-estate, it’s important that the transportable workstation you choose will always work when you arrive on site.  The MegaPAC-S2 is a modern, robust, professional workstation ready for deployment.

Portable workstation Open

Adjustable hinges for the second display.

 

The i9 Version supports 16 PCIe lanes from the processor and another 24 possible lanes from the PCH (Platform controller hub) 

“Everything you could want in a two screen portable workstation.  Lots of power, expansion and display space.”

Melinox Infiniband PCIe cards

Storage

Massive Storage

Five full-sized (5.25″) drive bays for Data can be configured as five:

3.5″ HDD = Up to 70TB

6 x 2.5″ HDD = Up to 150TB

6 x 2.5″ SSD = Up to 228TB

Two additional 3.5″ bays are available for the O/S or O/S + additional data.

There is room for high powered RAID controllers or data compression cards as well as connectivity to NAS etc.

Workstation grade graphics

Depending on the motherboard selected, the MegaPAC-S2 can support dual-card graphics solutions from AMD and Nvidia.  Dual Xeons and dual graphics cards require significant cooling.  Temperature sensitive fans keep the system components cool while minimizing the acoustic impact on the user.

AMD Pro SSG cards are available with in-excess of 2TB of graphics card memory for those professionals working on 8K content.

Memory is not the headline spec on Nvidia’s Quadro 8000  However, with 130.5 TFLOPS per card, and Nvidia NVLink allowing two cards per system, there’s a lot of graphics power possible.

For over and under displays in a similar package please check out the MegaPAC-L2

AMD

Nvidia

Three screen laptop with PCIe expansion slots

Rugged three screen laptop with:

 

  • 3 x 17.3″ HD displays
  • 12 Core Xeon processor (D-2166NT)
  • 2 x PCIe expansion slots (x16, x8)
  • Optional Nvidia Quadro 4000 graphics
  • Backlit keyboard
  • Integrated CAC card reader
  • Eight Lan ports – 2 Fiber SPF+ 10G, 2 RJ45 10G, 4 RJ45 Gigabit.
  • Up to 512GB RAM
  • Aluminum alloy construction
  • Mil-Std shock, vibration, temperature and transport

Closed for transport - triple screen notebook

Three Screen Laptop


“Everything you could want in a 24lb laptop!  Plenty of cores (12).  Four removable 7.6TB SSD’s.  Nvidia Quadro P4000 graphics.  An open PCIe expansion slot for your needs.”

For even more performance see MilPAC-III

A Heading

There are eight LAN ports and an IPMI port on the rear panel!  Two 10G SPF+ ports (fiber), two 10G RJ45’s, four 1Gig RJ45’s.  There’s also an IPMI port for remote management of the system.  All ports are protected behind a hinged door for protection during transport.  The fiber ports allow for the attachment of a local or remote NAS device to greatly expand the storage capacity for enterprise and tactical mission systems.

Xeon Laptop Motherboard

Another Heading

The heart of the system is an Intel 12 Core Xeon Processor with up to 512GB RAM. TheIntel D-2166NT has 12 cores and 24 threads running at up to 3GHz, with 17MB of cache.

Two expansion slots (one optionally fitted with an Nvidia Quadro-4000) are x16 and x8.  Maximum card length is 9.5″

Yet Another Heading

Three HD displays fold neatly for transport.  5760 x 1080 scene space.  An optional Nvidia Quadro P4000 professional graphics card means there is plenty of power to drive the three displays with full motion video, 3D visualization or geospatial imagery.  The second slot can be fitted with a video capture card for real-time capture and analysis of drone video etc.

Available with four removable SSDs to give 30TB of removable storage, the NotePAC is a powerful portable server-grade three screen laptop.

For more information see NotePAC

Powerful CPU

MilPAC-III Performance

Dual Xeon, liquid cooled.  Server grade motherboard.  Nvidia graphics.  Removable HDD and SSD options.

Request a quote


Mil-spec shock & transit

The MilPAC-III is certified to MIL-STD-810G, Method 514.5, Figure 514.5C-5 Loose cargo test setup, 0- 50 degrees C.

Data Sheet


Trusted by servicemen and women in theater

Made in the USA

Proudly manufactured in Azusa CA.

The Factory (link)


C4ISR Workstation

Sunlight Readable Display

Deployable workstation now available with 1000 Nit display panels

The MilPAC-III has been continuously deployed by the US military since 2015.  Continuous refinements to the design have been incorporated to increase performance and extend reliability. A new display backlight option is now available.  

“1000 Nits is pretty readable outdoors – but you still want to avoid direct sunlight”

A very bright display can still be difficult to read outdoors because it is very difficult to compete with the Sun!  To improve usability, the MilPAC-III sunlight readable displays may be adjusted to a host of different opening positions, and the tilt of the whole unit changed using the robust foot.
  • Sunlight readable display
  • 1000 Nits
  • Adjustable display angles and system tilt

MilPAC-III from Portexa | High capacity cooling 

 

Product Highlights

 

  • Mil-Std 901D tested
  • Sunlight readable displays
  • The power supply (PSU) is replaceable without tools.  Tested to Mil-std 461
  • Display mirroring through HDMI

 

Ultra-bright displays

Bright and uniform

The new displays’ contrast ratio exceeds 400:1 while providing deep blacks and extremely bright and readable detail. The 1000 cd/m^2 displays were tested for maximum brightness using a Topcon BM-9 luminance meter. Measured maximum white luminance was 1053 nits.


  1. MilPAC-III is in continuous use in-theatre.  The video feed from drones is fed to the CIC for analysis.
  2. Compressed video may then be sent to command for subsequent evaluation.
  3. Video feeds can be mirrored through HDMI ports on top of the unit to allow the operator to share engagement data with the commanding officer.

 

 

 

Deployable & reliable


Deployable workstation expansion

Expansion Slots

The MilPAC can be configured with extra I/O ports, including, but not limited to, multiple Gigabit Ethernet or fiber ports.

ruggedized workstation with three screens

Removable Storage

Five removable drives as standard including three 3.5″ HDD’s.

 

“MegaPAC-L3 – the most powerful portable workstation on the planet!”


 

BUILT WITH BOLDGRID

  • Ultimate portable workstation
  • Dual RTX-2080Ti’s
  • Dual Intel Xeon Platinum processors
  • Three 24″ 4K or HD displays

 

Three screen transportable workstation closed for deployment

Three screen 24" workstation

SUPER SWEET HEADING


MegaPAC-L3 – The most powerful portable workstation

The MegaPAC-L3 is the latest iteration of the hugely successful MegaPAC family.  Available now with three 24″ displays* in either HD or 4K resolution, the MegaPAC supports EATX motherboards with the latest Intel processors.  Available with Dual RTX2080Ti’s and Dual Intel Xeon Platinum processors, the MegaPAC is the most powerful portable on the planet.

With support for 1TB of DDR4 RAM and 150TB of SSD storage, the MegaPAC-L3 is up to almost any task.

The MegaPAC series has a full-sized 105-key keyboard with integrated touch-pad.  The keyboard is available in a variety of languages.

HEIGHT: 16.39″,
WIDTH: 22.96″,
DEPTH: 11.98″

Weight 53lb (for a typical configuration)

Power: 850W 100/240VAC, 50/60HZ auto-switching 80 PLUS GOLD rated power supply.  

Display options – Triple 23.8″:

UHD 3840 X 2160,
FULL HD 1920 X 1080,
WUXGA 1920 X 1200

Up to seven PCIe expansion slots.

*There are four versions of the MegaPAC chassis offering single screen, dual screen over and under, dual screen side-by-side, and triple screen configurations.  All are offered with a choice of i5, i7, i9, and Xeon processors.

Datasheet Quote

“There is no question that this is the most powerful  portable workstation I have ever used!”

Anna Cheng

Featured Video

120TB+ Removable Storage


120TB SSD Storage

Now available with more than 120TB of removable SSD storage, the NetPAC-RHD16 is the most powerful portable server on the planet.

Learn More

NetPAC-RHD16

The most powerful portable server on the planet

Maximum performance portable

 

COTS computer for network capture / cyber security

Drives removable individually or in packs of four

MilPAC-I top view handle

Ultra high throughput removable media pack

16 Drive portable server

1st rate cooling - massive expansion - transportable COTS workstation with PCIe expansion slots

Most powerful portable: NetPAC-RHD-16

The brief? Make the most powerful portable computer on the planet.  Oh – and all the drives must be removable.  Must be capable of copying a high speed network in real time.  Can you make it so it fits in between 19″ rack rails?

01

Best in the Industry

There has never been a portable server like the NetPAC-RHD-16.  Dual Xeon processors.  1TB RAM. 120TB+ of removable, high speed, high reliability SSD drives.  Separate removable system drive.

02

Reliable Operation

Robust aluminum construction and attention to detail ensure that the NetPAC-RHD16 just works when you get to the work-site.  Micron 5200 series SSDs are robust and reliable.

03

Configured for your application

Maybe you don’t need the most powerful portable computer ever built?  We can build the NetPAC-RHD16 with significantly less costly components, tailored to meet your real-world requirements.

04

Seize the moment

Right now, you can get a quote for the NetPAC-RHD16.  Click here->

Product Highlights


2

Intel Xeon Processors

56

Cores Max

1

CAC Card reader in keyboard

The NetPAC-RHD-16 is the most powerful portable on the planet.  If you would like more information or a quotation, please visit portexa.com

PCIe Lanes explained

An introduction

PCI Express, PCIe or Peripheral Component Interconnect Express, can be a somewhat complicated computer specification. When your computer first boots, PCIe is what determines the devices that are attached or plugged in to the motherboard. It identifies the links between each device, creating a traffic map and negotiates the width of each link. This identification of devices and connections uses the same protocol as PCI, so no changes were required when changing from PCI to PCIe in either software or operating systems.

A PCIe connection consists of one or more (up to sixteen, at the moment) data-transmission lanes, connected serially. Each lane consists of two pairs of wires, one for transmitting and one for receiving. There are 1, 4, 8 or 16 lanes in a single PCIe slot – denoted as x1, x4, x8, or x16. This is the difference between PCI connections which are parallel (32-bit or 64-bit bidirectional parallel bus) and PCIe which is basically a serial version of PCI.

If you need a portable computer with expansion slots – see ‘portable computers with expansion slots‘.

PCIe Lanes on a Motherboard`

PCIe Lanes

How do PCIe Lanes work?

PCIe is a multi-layered protocol – the layers being a transaction layer, a data link layer, and a physical layer.  The Data-link layer is sub-divided to include a media access control (MAC) layer.  Each lane consists of two unidirectional differential pairsoperating at 2.5, 5, 8 or 16 Gbit/s, depending on the negotiated capabilities. While on the other hand, transmit and receive are separate differential pairs, adding up to a total of four data wires per lane.

Each lane is an independent connection between the PCI controller of the processor chip-set (Southbridge) or the processor itself (which is almost always the graphics card slot) and the expansion card. Bandwidth scales linearly, so a four-lane connection will have twice the bandwidth of a two-lane connection. Depending on the expansion card’s bandwidth requirements, the slot may need to be sized accordingly.

PCIe connection diagram from How stuff works
From How Stuff Works

A physical PCIe x16 slot can accommodate a x1, x4, x8, or x16 card, and can run a x16 card at x16, x8, x4, or x1. A PCIe x8 slot can accommodate a x1 or x4 or x8 card but cannot fit a x16 card. Just to confuse the matter further, there are different versions of PCIe interface.  It’s also possible that a motherboard may have multiple slot sizes and also different PCIe versions: 1.0a, 1.1, 2.0, 2.1, 3.0, 3.1, 4.0 and coming soon 5.0.  (Link to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PCI_Express#PCI_Express_5.0)

BUS & Theoretical Bandwidth Available

BUS Bandwidth
PCI 1056 MBps
AGP 8x 2.1 GBps
PCIe 1.0 / x4 1 GBps
PCIe 1.0 / x8 2 GBps
PCIe 1.0 / x16 4 GBps
PCIe 2.0 / x4 2 GBps
PCIe 2.0 / x8 4 GBps
PCIe 2.0 / x16 8 GBps
PCIe 3.0 / x1 1.97 GBps
PCIe 3.0 / x4 3.94 GBps
PCIe 3.0 / x8 7.88 GBps
PCIe 3.0 / x16 15.75 GBps
PCIe 4.0 / x1 3.94 GBps
PCIe 4.0 / x4 7.88 GBps
PCIe 4.0 / x8 15.75 GBps
PCIe 4.0 / x16 31.5 GBps
PCIe 5.0 / x16

Firewire

63 GBps

400 MBps

USB 1.0 12 MBps
USB 2.0 480 MBps
USB 3.0 4.8 GBps
USB 3.1 10 GBps​
Gigabit Ethernet 1 Gbps
IDE (ATA 100) 800 MBps
IDE (ATA 133) 1064 MBps
SATA 1.5 GBps
SATA III 3 GBps
SATA 6 6 GBps

Why do PCIe Lanes matter?

Functions your CPU’s PCIe Lanes Control:

  • Onboard Video
  • PCIe 3.0 x16 Slot (usually for video card)
  • 2/U.2 (on some Enthusiast Boards)
  • LAN (on some Enthusiast Boards)

Other functions use your CHIPSET’s PCIe bus lanes. Functions CHIPSET’s PCIe Lanes control may control:

  • SATA hard drives
  • Onboard Sound
  • Onboard RAID
  • Onboard Network Controller/LAN
  • All PCIe slots except the first one
  • Thunderbolt
  • 2/U.2

Quoted amounts of PCIe bandwidth required by individual components:

  • 8-16 Lanes – x16 PCIe Video Cards (Each)
  • 8-16 Lanes – Other Specialized PCIe Cards
  • 4 Lanes – M.2 Drive
  • 4 Lanes – Thunderbolt (uses 4 lanes PCIe 3.0)
  • 4 Lanes – Hardware Based RAID Controllers
  • 2 Lanes (Each) – SSD Drives
  • 2 Lanes – USB 3.1 (Gen. 2)
  • 1 Lane – USB 3.0 (USB 3.1 Gen. 1)
  • 1 Lane – Sound
  • 1 Lane – Network Controllers

Which chips have the most PCIe lanes?

Different chips support different numbers of PCIe lanes. For example: Intel Core i5 or i7-8700K or i9-8950HK have up to 1×16, 2×8, 1×8+2×4 with a maximum of 16 PCIe lanes.  In addition, the 6850K and up i7’s have 40 lanes. The Intel Xeon E5-4669 v4 has a maximum of 40 PCIe lanes at PCIe 3.0, whereas the E7-8894 v4 has ‘only’ 32 lanes (per processor). AMD has upped the ante with their EPYC CPU’s – they have 128 PCIe lanes 3.0.

In the tech industry today, what makes this really complicated is that motherboard manufacturers have to make their motherboards support a range of processors which may have different numbers of PCIe lanes supported.  So a motherboard using an i7-6850K chip may have the capability to address multiple slots at x16, whereas with a ‘lesser’ chip ie. i7-8700K may be fewer lanes available, with only one slot being x16.  Just to complicate things further, NVME and other types of expansions require PCIe lanes. With NVME being a must-have feature for a modern motherboard, there are now even fewer lanes available to the expansion slots. 

Working out how to get the most out of a motherboard in terms of application performance becomes even harder when you need to choose how to connect to the real world.  PCIe lane allocation can make or break the performance of high-speed boards like RAID controllers when they are operating near-maximum capacity (which is now possible due to fast SSD storage). 

While there are some non-PCIe interface options being explored by computer manufacturers, they would also require major hardware changes. All in all, PCIe looks to remain crucial for a while longer, even while the form factor of the connection continues to evolve.

Links:

Adam Savage’s Tested.com did a nice explanation of PCIe speeds and comparison with Thunderbolt.

Anandtech did a nice writeup of the Z170 chipset and the trade-offs that board manufacturers have to make when selecting how to configure the PCH

 

Portable computers with expansion slots

1st rate cooling - massive expansion - transportable COTS workstation with PCIe expansion slots

portable computers with expansion slots

Expansion Slots

There are still portable computers with expansion slots available.  They are a niche product for users that need to connect to systems in the real world. 

COTS computer for network capture / cyber security

Light-weight laptops with USB-C have a reasonable amount of processing power, and lots of bandwidth in the USB-C ports…  but they are significantly more difficult to configure as test and measurement equipment than a rugged portable with PCIe expansion slots.  (Legacy configurations supporting older buses like PCI are still available as special configurations).

Modern multi-slot portable computers typically have one or more flat panels, from 15″ up to triple 24″ display systems.  Processors range from Intel i5 to Dual Xeon server systems, and the storage is provided by anything from a single M2 card up to a 16 drive RAID array.  SSD’s are the norm now, but there are still high capacity HDD’s which have their uses when absolute storage size is more important than ruggedness.  HDD’s are also still cheaper per Terra-byte.  A single SSD is now readily available with 7.6TB per drive.

24" three screen portable computer– Triple screen 24″ portable

Motherboard sizes for portable computers with expansion slots

ATX

Dual Xeon Motherboard in a transportable computer with 40 PCIe Lanes - ATX formatATX – 12 × 9.6 in (305 × 244 mm)

The heart of a rugged portable “lunchbox”-style PC is the motherboard.  Systems are available that support ATX, micro-ATX, e-ATX, and mini-ATX.

According to requirements, ATX, Micro-ITX,  Mini-ATX, ATX, and EATX boards can be supported.  Alternatively, a passive backplane can be used with a plug-in computer card (PIC).  PIC cards are designed for industrial use and have extended temperature ranges.  They can be used to make massively expandable systems with lots of slots or used to create small form factor systems that support just enough expansion.  Portable computers with expansion slots are generally only sold fully configured – you can’t just buy the case.  It’s simple economics; the manufacturer can’t make a living with the limited quantity sold.  Different motherboards will have support for different processors, supporting multiple slot type and numbers of PCIe lanes.

Micro-ATX

microATX motherboard for portable computer with expansionMicroATX – 9.6 × 9.6 in (244 × 244 mm)

Mini-ITX

MiniITX motherboard for portable PC with slotsMiniITX – 6.7 × 6.7 in – (170 × 170 mm)

 

Extended-ATX

EAXT Motherboard for luggable PC with expansion slotsEATX – 12 × 13 in – (305 × 330 mm)

 

Cooling is an important requirement for high-performance computing.  Overclockers looking to extract maximum performance from a chip will go to extraordinary lengths to cool the processor using liquid nitrogen or massive external refrigeration units.  In a rugged portable, it’s usually just a case of optimizing air-flow and making sure the hot components aren’t blocked.  Tidy cable management helps smooth the airflow which helps cooling and the audio profile.  All of the work that was done on keeping Hard Drives cool is not wasted as it applies nearly as much to SSDs.  SSDs generate a significant amount of heat when used – especially when writing.

Military applications almost always require removable hard drives for both data and the operating system.  These can be individual drives or removable caddies that reduce the risks of mixing up the drives in a RAID array – which can be a costly time sink to fix, if not worse.

Expansion cards range from top of the line graphics cards to multi-I/O serial cards.  Connections via 1553, 1394B (as used on the Lockheed Martin F-35), CAN bus, Infiniband, HyperSCSI, NAS, SAN, and many others are possible with adaptors from multiple manufacturers.

Examples of interface cards often used:

1553

 PCIE-1553 Card

Abaco systems 1553

Abaco Systems RPCIE-1553 is the latest generation of performance and flexibility for MIL-STD-1553 A/B Notice II on a native PCI Express module. Available in -40°C to +70°C temperature with one, two or four dual-redundant channels, the RPCIE-1553 includes advanced API (Application Programming Interface) software that reduces application development time.

1394B

DAP 1394 card for Aerospace applications

DAP Technology Firespy cards 1394 (PCI)

The FireSpy850, FireSpy450b, and FireSpy450bT bus analyzers complete the second generation of 1394 analyzers offered by DapTechnology. Based on the industry-leading FireSpy800, the all new and enhanced architecture of the FireSpy810, as well as the form factor advantages introduced with the FireSpy3850, make these PCI form factor analyzer cards the most compelling package for card-based 1394 analysis solutions found in the industry.

Dap also makes similar cards in PMC format – these then need an adaptor card like this:

PCIe to PMC adaptor to allow PMC cards to be fitted in a PCIe expansion slot

CAN

PCIe card for CAN Bus

Advantach PCIE-1680

2-Port CAN-Bus PCI-E card with Isolation Protection

  • High-speed transmission up to 1 Mbps
  • Operates two separate CAN networks at the same time
  • Optical isolation protection of 2,500 VDC ensures system reliability
  • 16 MHz CAN controller frequency

Infiniband

Melinox Infiniband PCIe cards

Melinox 

ConnectX® – Single/Dual-Port InfiniBand Adapter Cards with PCI Express 2.0

ConnectX delivers low-latency and high-bandwidth for performance-driven server and storage clustering applications. These applications will benefit from the reliable transport connections and advanced multicast support offered by ConnectX. No CPU intervention is required when Network protocol processing and data movement overhead (such as InfiniBand RDMA and Send/Receive semantics) are completed in the adapter. Servers supporting PCI Express 2.0 with 5GT/s will be able to take advantage of 40Gb/s InfiniBand, balancing the I/O requirement of these high-end servers. 

NAS

PCIe card for M2 and 10 Gigabit Ethernet to NAS

QNAP – QM2

QM2 series PCIe cards add support for M.2 SSDs and 10GbE RJ45 connectivity to a QNAP NAS. Combining M.2 SSD and 10GbE connectivity into one solution, the QM2 helps improve overall NAS performance while providing an affordable upgrade path for adopting 10GbE networks.

SAN – Sonnet

PCIe Sonnet card

Sonnet’s Presto™ 10GbE 10GBASE-T PCIe 3.0 card is a powerfully simple and cost-effective way to add dual-port copper 10GbE connectivity to your Mac Pro® tower or Windows® PC, or Linux® server.

Multi-port Ethernet

Four port 10Gig Ethernet PCIe card

CaptureXG™ 1000 Quad-Port 10 Gigabit Ethernet Capture PCI Express FPGA Card

The CaptureXG 1000 card comes standard with essential features, such as accurate time synchronization and stamping (IRIG-A, B, and G), programmable 5-tuple filters, PCAP Next Generation file format, and a highly efficient PCI Express Gen 3 host interface. The CaptureXG 1000 card is fully integrated with the popular Wireshark network protocol analyzer, so it provides a powerful tool for IT managers to easily leverage their teams’ existing expertise, which increases efficiency in diagnosing network issues.

For a selection of portable computers with expansion slots that are designed to support PCIe cards – please visit Portexa.com