Bridging the gap between sensors and high-performance compute power is a growing challenge, especially in systems where quick, complex decisions are vital.
The concept of “the edge” in embedded systems has taken on new urgency in the federal space. The need to address the burgeoning amount of high-speed, vital data with powerful AI processing for immediate complex decision and reaction could be likened to the idea of stuffing a data center under the seat of a helicopter (if only!). “The edge” can be defined as “where it’s happening” and in government systems, that’s the field. Traditionally, the problem of linking high-speed sensors and actuators with super-powerful AI resources has been addressed with high-speed data communications. But that has serious limitations in terms of field operations where package size, speed, mobility, and reliability are paramount.
In the real world, the goal of putting more power into less space has been thwarted by heat dissipation since the first steam engines. In 1999 the Porsche car company was faced with getting more horsepower out of their air-cooled, 3-liter engine. Acknowledging that heat was their issue, Porsche moved from an air-cooled solution to a water-cooled solution, in concert with a dry oil sump injection system. This allowed Porsche to have extremely high performance for the engine size, with a nimble car that continues to have a power-to-weight ratio that still beats all comers in the market.
PCIe Gen 5 is a key technology for driving transportable or edge AI systems to higher performance, especially those with demanding space, environmental or cooling needs. But AI program managers should evaluate their technology suppliers’ Gen 5 implementations to ensure they fully realize the technology’s benefits.