Feeds

GE shows off tank-tough tech

Sorry, Sarge... I just backed over the new PC

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

GTC 2013 Do you have employees who habitually bust up perfectly good tech? These are the people who have a different problem every other week, and they always say, “I don’t know what happened, it just suddenly stopped working. It’s just so weird...” Then they show you a desktop with a motherboard swimming in Coke Classic or a notebook that looks like it took a 10-minute ride in a Home Depot paint-shaker.

To solve this problem once and for all, take a page from Hunter S Thompson who famously said, “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” Turning pro in this case means turning to the folks from General Electric who build ruggedised systems that are tank-tough. Literally. These are the systems that go into tanks and other extremely hostile environments (like Dulles International Airport during a big snow delay).

But what does ruggedised mean in the real world? The guys at GE’s booth at GTC 2013 explained it all to me on this video.

First, it has to perform. These systems have to manage a vehicle and communications as well as process visual feeds from a variety of sources. The GE systems at the show were based on Intel Sandy Bridge processors and had a ruggedised implementation of NVIDIA’s Kepler GPU processor to help handle the load. Just add some memory and an SSD, then wrap it all up in a small (but deceptively heavy) finned metal enclosure and you’re ready to go.

So what makes it ruggedised? The ability to withstand shock is key. The GE box in the video can take up to 40g of force without breaking. For reference, a Bugatti Veyron will pull 1.55g max when accelerating from 0-100km/h. Rollercoasters generate about 3.5g, with the hairiest rides topping out just over 6g. Humans black out or grey out at around 9g if they’re wearing a g-suit. Crashing your car into a brick building at 30mph (48 km/h) would generate 30g. So the ability to take 40g of force is considerable.

These units also have to be impervious to heat and cold. Tanks and things like that tend to get a lot of outside use, so the PCs that run their electronics need to be able to handle extreme temperatures. The system in the video can function in temps as low as -40°C or as high as 85°C.

My idle question, “So what is -40°C in Fahrenheit?” generated a funny debate. Dustin Franklin, GPGPU specialist at GE, said that -40°C is the same as -40°F, which I immediately figured was too simple to be true. In the video, you can see us debating this question and how to solve it. Eventually, we went to an indisputable source and found the "one true answer", but I’m not going to give it away here. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Docker's app containers are coming to Windows Server, says Microsoft
MS chases app deployment speeds already enjoyed by Linux devs
'Hmm, why CAN'T I run a water pipe through that rack of media servers?'
Leaving Las Vegas for Armenia kludging and Dubai dune bashing
'Urika': Cray unveils new 1,500-core big data crunching monster
6TB of DRAM, 38TB of SSD flash and 120TB of disk storage
Facebook slurps 'paste sites' for STOLEN passwords, sprinkles on hash and salt
Zuck's ad empire DOESN'T see details in plain text. Phew!
SDI wars: WTF is software defined infrastructure?
This time we play for ALL the marbles
Windows 10: Forget Cloudobile, put Security and Privacy First
But - dammit - It would be insane to say 'don't collect, because NSA'
Oracle hires former SAP exec for cloudy push
'We know Larry said cloud was gibberish, and insane, and idiotic, but...'
Symantec backs out of Backup Exec: Plans to can appliance in Jan
Will still provide support to existing customers
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.