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SCARLETT - The Next Generation of IMA

News & Articles


SCARLETT - The Next Generation of IMA

SCARLETT - The Next Generation of IMA

SCARLETT - The Next Generation of IMA

The concept of Integrated Modular Avionics (IMA) was invented in the early '90s to overcome the vast number of single electronic devices in the avionics. PikeOS Safe and Secure Virtualization was introduced in 2005 with a concept of integration of multiple software APIs on a single hardware platform. Today, both concepts build the foundation for a revolutionary new approach in the avionics.

The SCARLETT project

Next generation avionics is currently discussed in the SCARLETT project, a consortium of 40 companies and research institutes funded by the European Union. The overall objective of SCARLETT is a reduction of lead time before a new aircraft enters service by 50%. The main approach for this ambitious goal is a second generation of integrated modular avionics called IMA2G. As partner of the SCARLETT consortium, SYSGO brings in PikeOS Safe and Secure Virtualization serving as a software platform for IMA2G. What is new in IMA2G? 

SCARLETT and IMA2G

New aircrafts like the Airbus A380, A400M or Boeing's 787 Dreamliner use the first generation of integrated modular avionics (IMA1G) for their avionics systems. While the IMA1G approach is much better in terms of weight and the number of parts (Airbus reports a cut of 50% of part numbers of processor units) IMA2G aims to keep reducing costs and managing increasing complexity. This was the hour of birth of SCARLETT, a joint effort of suppliers and airframers to overcome the lack of scalability in today's avionics. Within the scope of SCARLETT, the IMA concept is going to be enhanced by seven innovations:

  • Introduction of a flexible hardware concept that separates input/output from computing modules and replaces the Core Processing Input Output Modules by Distributed Modular Electronics components connected by AFDX.
  • A new software concept granting more independence between applications and the underlying platform.
  • Reconfiguration mechanisms that will be used as a new fault tolerance mechanism to increase operational reliability.
  • As a result of the project, SCARLETT will provide a consistent tool chain for the entire development activities (including integration and validation).
  • A technology survey of packaging solutions to reduce the number of electronic components that can be reused in different types of aircrafts.
  • IMA2G aims at a maximum level of acceptance in the community and the standardization organizations.
  • In addition to these key requirements, the project will be investigated on ways to improve performance, like using new multi-core technologies.

How PikeOS responds to IMA2G requirements

The concept of PikeOS follows the ARINC 653 standard which defines the software requirements of IMA. ARINC 653 requires robust partitioning, protection of privileged services, a generic communication interface, health monitoring, and an API with typical services suitable for multi-threaded applications. That's what PikeOS provides today as software platform used in the upcoming Airbus A350 and A400M. To address future needs, the existing services around ARINC 653 will be extended, particularly with support for multiple APIs, for reconfiguration mechanisms, to meet IMA2G requirements. PikeOS is a step ahead and already provides additional APIs for the connection to open world applications such as POSIX®, Linux, or Java. Yet it supports multi-core CPUs to match the needs for increasing performance and makes features for in-flight reconfiguration available.

PikeOS beyond IMA2G

Software is more and more important in complex embedded systems. From an economic point of view it is desirable that software can be reused even when the software platform or the hardware changes. Therefore, PikeOS is equipped with a flexible API adaptable for code reuse and a modular Architecture and Platform Support Package allowing cost efficient ports to new boards or CPU's.