COVID 19 Supply Chain

Finding New Supply Chain Muscles in a COVID-19 World

While I’ve tried to refrain from using the new cliché “these are unprecedented times,” I can’t think of a better way to describe what we are facing with COVID-19.  Like the other functions within Mercury Systems, supply chain is having to flex muscles we haven’t had to use in the past to mitigate the extreme risks this pandemic places on our business. And we’re not alone.

In late January/early February, when news of the coronavirus and its devastating wake in China became more well known, I felt a brief moment of relief that Mercury Systems doesn’t have direct suppliers from China (except for very few/one-off situations). That naïve security was quickly shattered as I considered the levels within our supply chain – our suppliers, their suppliers, their suppliers’ suppliers, etc. At some point, someone will be reliant on components from China. Supply chain managers whose previous concerns were one or two levels down into their supply chains now find themselves rolling up their sleeves and diving more deeply.

Assessing Risk

For complex systems of materials and factories, the basic assumption that underlies success is that risk is diffused throughout the supply chain and can be managed through lead-time optimizations and evaluation of individual supply chains. For COVID-19, this process proved to be not only inadequate, it also ran the risk of further exacerbating supply chain risks.

Within weeks, this was no longer a China or an Asia issue. We quickly realized the standard supplier risk management process we launched at Mercury Systems only last summer had to be adjusted, yet again, to more accurately pinpoint COVID-19-related risks to enable effective mitigation actions. Some of the criteria we are using to assess the risk of each supplier are the impact their failure could have on the business, based on the time and cost to recover, and the likelihood of failure. For COVID-19, we streamlined the model to focus on three areas:

  • Sourcing options (single/sole sourced, supplier-owned IP, availability of alternate parts or sources)
    • Financial stress on the supplier (will the supplier be able to weather this storm?)
    • Likelihood of supplier being shut down by local government

Based on the assessments of the suppliers, which are now reviewed and updated daily, we generated a heat map and focused on the suppliers in the “red risk” areas to determine appropriate mitigation plans. 

Mitigating Risk

We determined the number one action to mitigate risk would be to pull in the supplier deliveries of material required for Q4 as soon as possible, with Q1 and Q2 as a second priority. This process requires a stronger alignment across functions, starting from revenue forecasting through planning down to procurement—a precursor to the SIOP process (sales, inventory and operations planning) that is being piloted across certain sections of our business. That sounds simple, but in practice, the amount of time it takes to get information across an entire supply chain can be challenging. In this current crisis, we are able to evolve this process much faster than it would have taken under normal circumstances.

Other mitigation actions to reduce supplier risk are:

  • Identifying alternate suppliers
  • Identifying alternate parts
  • Partnering with sales, programs, contracts and engineering on expedited customer approvals for sourcing changes
  • Providing financial support to struggling suppliers (especially small businesses)

But there are many other new ways we can all consider and questions to ask as we wrestle with better managing our supply chains, including:

  • Performing a deeper analysis of our suppliers’ supply chains – where do our suppliers’ sub-tier fabricate, manufacture, assemble, test, etc.?
  • Tying the delivery of our material to the customer programs, directly linking procurement impact to revenue
  • Implementing a structured daily cadence across all procurement teams to ensure delivery to manufacturing schedules

While this pandemic is driving my organization – and many others – out of its comfort zone, we are learning to build a coalition of people and practices that will be vital tools long after this virus has been contained. Since working from home, I’ve started exercising again (more for my mental than physical health), and I am feeling aches and pains I haven’t felt in a long time.  Much the same, as we continue to flex these unfamiliar supply chain muscles to tackle the new challenges presented by COVID-19, I am certain we will become a stronger function within company operations.

COVID19 - Reigniting the Defense

Reigniting the Defense Innovation Base for a New Industry Paradigm

Our industry finds itself at a critical juncture.

In recent months, the global pandemic COVID-19 has spread rapidly around the world, infecting and killing tens of thousands of people, with few signs of slowing. The global supply chain and many regional economies have ground to a halt as countries seek to mitigate the impacts of the virus. Like many other essential businesses, our industry has had to quickly assess the impact of COVID-19 and maintain continuity of mission-critical business operations, all while focusing on the health and safety of our employees.

However, even before the threat of a global crisis, companies have been operating within a new geopolitical paradigm, and the U.S. government has faced an entirely new generation of potential threats. In recent years, the global landscape has continued – if not accelerated – its shift to a multipolar structure led by a handful of primary adversarial powers. In parallel, the threats for which these powers are preparing are undergoing rapid and foundational change. From electronic warfare to space superiority, international governments are grappling with an increased set of unfamiliar risks and new battlespaces that necessitate a fundamental shift in their approach to national security.

The future remains uncertain, in large part due to this global crisis, and once we emerge from the pandemic, we must take a close look at the changes needed throughout the defense contracting industry to ensure its future success. 

A Robust Industry – With a Need for Change

A paradox is manifesting itself in the defense contracting industry. Defined by historically consistent returns, our sector has traditionally been a healthy vertical overall. Defense companies have a distinct financial advantage – particularly compared to our commercially focused counterparts – because the DoD funds much of the upfront capital, R&D expenditure and production working capital for any given project. The DoD then purchases products at higher margins for many years as programs shift to production. Coupled with infrequent – albeit relatively expensive – upgrades, high-margin international sales and the fact that incumbents hold a distinct advantage in the industry, many defense contractors find themselves operating in a business-friendly environment.

Nevertheless, we are facing several new and growing potential vulnerabilities that require an evolved approach. In addition to the unknown future impacts of COVID-19, a growing national debt, historically low interest rates and increases in non-defense discretionary spending are potential headwinds in defense spending overall. Across the industry, we have continued to witness consolidation that winnows both the volume and diversity of technology providers. From Northrop Grumman’s acquisition of Orbital ATK, to the industry-altering mergers between Raytheon and United Technologies Corp. and Harris Corp. and L3, respectively, the number of innovative public-sector specialists has shrunk considerably in just the past few years.

Moreover, from a research and development standpoint, we’ve collectively settled for IR&D and capital expenditure rates of 2–3 percent as an acceptable status quo. However, we should not and cannot settle for rates that are inadequate for the goals we define for ourselves. For example, our high-tech counterparts on the commercial side regularly invest upwards of 10 percent of revenue on IR&D. With federal IR&D rates that pale in comparison, and acknowledging that the public sector is often too small and complex for high-tech commercial companies to penetrate, the defense industry finds itself at a distinct disadvantage for readily accessing the foremost technologies for mission-critical and national security needs.

A Long-Term Framework for Success

As new, emerging threats become more prevalent and require dedicated attention, contractors must make substantive investment in new technologies and innovations a strategic priority.

Complicating matters, the continued global spread of COVID-19 has posed an unprecedented acute threat to the vitality of our business and presents an issue we will need to collectively address. In its wake, we must evaluate the industry overall and must especially consider material and fundamental changes to our approach in order to ensure our long-term success, including: 

  1. Evolving defense procurement and acquisition policies. Whether due to bureaucratic red tape, cumbersome regulatory policies or the complex nature of defense technology, there is a lack of defense industry participation among high-tech commercial companies. By creating ease of entry into the public sector, the addition of more high-end commercial expertise will challenge industry incumbents to innovate and deliver, driving the industry forward as a whole.
  2. Reestablishing and fostering a healthy, innovative mid-tier base. In some respects, industry consolidation has been a boon to the sector, increasing the scale of solutions that we’re able to provide to our customers. But what we’ve gained in scale we’ve lost in diversity and entrepreneurial spirit. In order to foster continued innovation, we must recognize the importance of and reestablish a robust mid-tier base.
  3. Making a greater effort to attract and retain talent by focusing on both innovation and purpose. Companies are only as successful as the people within them. We must not only undertake a dedicated effort to attract the foremost talent in technology, but also foster a culture of both purpose and innovation in order to retain and develop that expertise for years to come.
  4. Fostering partnerships with peers. Whether with traditional or non-traditional partners, as an industry, we must make every effort to collaborate with others – including commercial, government and academic entities – in a way that unlocks new efficiencies and increased investment to drive the industry forward.

Our industry finds itself with a steady track record of success but also a need to evolve to realize our collective potential.

Getting there will not be easy. It will require shifting priorities, making difficult decisions, forging new relationships and transforming our approach to the industry as we currently understand it.

As we look to the future and continue to function at the service of the public sector, these are vital decisions that will determine the success of our industry, and the defense industry’s capabilities, for decades to come.

national security covid-19

The Importance of Maintaining our National Security in Times of Crisis

The United States currently finds itself in an unprecedented human health crisis that will test the collective resolve of both the U.S. government and the American public. In just a few short weeks, we’ve transitioned from a historically robust economy to one in which there is a dedicated focus on essential goods and the health of Americans. At Mercury, we’re committed to doing our part to help ensure the health and financial safety of all of our employees.

But in this time of crisis, we cannot lose sight of critical strategic priorities, including the United States’ national security. Safeguarding our nation requires continued persistence in the face of challenges. The president recently issued updated Coronavirus Guidance for America. This guidance states that:   

“If you work in a critical infrastructure industry, as defined by the Department of Homeland Security…you have a special responsibility to maintain your normal work schedule.”   

However, this is just guidance, not law. While our experience, thus far, has been state-level recognition of the importance of “critical infrastructure industry” businesses like ours, making exceptions to “stay-at-home” orders, it is still our nation’s defense being decided at the state level. We need legislation that reinforces the importance of these industries and keeps them operational and stabilized in times of crisis.

While continuing to comply with global and local health authorities’ guidance and protecting our employees remains our top priority, we must continue our work on critical programs that help ensure our collective safety and security. These are trying times, but I have as much confidence as ever in America’s ability to rally around a common goal in service of our country’s success. For our part, Mercury is committed to continuing the advancement of Innovation That Matters in support of the aerospace and defense industry, which will play a key role in America’s national security for decades to come.

coronavirus update from CEO

Message From the President & CEO – Coronavirus Update 

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact people and countries around the world. This is a time of extraordinary circumstances and uncertainty. It’s also a time when the work we’re doing in support of strategic national priorities is recognized as critical.

At Mercury, we remain laser-focused on four goals we established: To protect the health, safety and livelihoods of our people; to mitigate or reduce operational and financial risks to the business; to continue to deliver on our commitments to customers and shareholders; and to continue the mission-critical work Mercury does every day to support the ongoing security of our nation, our brave men and women in uniform, and the communities in which we all live. We are also increasingly focused on “leading from the front,” communicating as frequently and openly as possible to help keep all stakeholders informed of the latest developments here, which are occurring at a very rapid pace.

I’d like to lead off by saying we have no confirmed COVID employee cases and our collective goal is to do our very best to keep it that way. Even before COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, we recognized the need to take advantage of early windows of opportunity, to develop plans to possibly prevent or at least minimize the impact of an incident to employees and the business, and to have continued decisive, proactive responses to a constantly developing situation that are in keeping with our purpose, our commitment to corporate stewardship as well as our culture and values. I’d like to share the things we are doing to accomplish company goals established many weeks ago.

Teams and Communications

To best keep our company informed as a whole, from an overarching leadership perspective we have:

  • Involved our executive board, creating a steering team that meets multiple times each week;
  • Created a COVID-19 FAQ document for employees, which is updated daily to include the most recent company information as well as that of local, state and federal authorities; and,
  • Established a weekly call with all managers to discuss business continuity information, which is then disseminated across the company.

Health and Wellness

At Mercury, our number one priority is to protect the health, safety and livelihoods of our employees. As such, we have:

  • Instituted a policy of 120 hours additional sick leave for employees for Coronavirus-related circumstances to incent unwell people to stay home;
  • Increased pay for all overtime to two times the regular rate from March 28–April 13 (or beyond if we need to extend our current work-from-home timeline);
  • Established a relief fund, starting at $1M, to assist eligible Mercury employees, including temporary agency employees, experiencing unexpected financial burdens as a result of this crisis;
  • Committed to covering our employees’ base pay during the time a facility may be shut down;
  • Waived the telemedicine co-pay for employees;
  • Announced an Uber Eats account for employees to have access to company-paid meals;
  • Set up a work-from-home program, moving more than 900 employees off sites until April 13;
  • Expanded network capacity for work and home;
  • Moved to virtual interviewing and onboarding where possible;
  • Created information packets and curated online resources for managers and employees to maximize productivity;
  • Put in place segregation areas and other social distancing requirements at all of our facilities in adherence to recommended guidelines; and,
  • Placed a hold on all international and domestic travel, requiring 14 days of self-isolation after any business and/or personal travel.

Facility Protocols

Because much of the critical work we do cannot be done from home, we have implemented the following preventive measures at all of our facilities and are working every day to improve upon these measures.

  • Limited non-essential site visits by internal and external visitors;
  • Limited essential site visits to specific conference rooms/areas;
  • Implemented environmental cleaning and disinfection protocols based on CDC and other recommendations;
  • Instituted a no-physical-greeting policy, i.e., handshakes, etc.;
  • Ordered masks and sanitizers for all on-site employees;
  • Posted COVID-19 CDC information sheets throughout all facilities; and,
  • Created plans and protocols for confirmed-case and site-shutdown scenarios.

I’d like to offer my most sincere gratitude to the people working on the frontline of this crisis who put their health at risk every day. Their selfless acts serve as inspiration. For our part, we will continue to lean forward and continue to take care of our employees and customers, but in keeping with our culture and values, we ask that you continue to help those in your communities who are in most need during this crisis. There are many people and companies in our communities who will be impacted more severely than we have been thus far. And it is in times like these that we so often see the best in people. Let’s work together to be agents of good.

The Role of HR in a Time of Crisis. It’s All About Trust

Over the past few years, the Mercury HR team has been focusing on building strong relationships between us and leadership, employees and external business resources. It may be an odd thing to think about, but the COVID-19 pandemic has now shown us the importance of that focus. In a time of stress and the unknown, those relationships are helping us be a critical part of what is going on in these unprecedented times. It has allowed us to make innovative decisions quickly with input from multiple sources, to get information out to our employees faster than ever, and to be there for them as they deal with the unknown by providing reassurance that the company will take care of them. Given the massive and rapid changes to workplace culture, we now find ourselves with a need to further commit to a trust-based workplace culture: Business and management trust employees working from home to be productive; HR trusts our external providers of work-from-home (WFH) technology to deliver; employees trust HR to keep them informed, protected, and engaged. #OneMecury thrives on trust.  

The coronavirus has imposed a WFH culture on myriad businesses in many countries. But this has allowed HR professionals to lean in – to put our education and training into practice by providing information, protection, and engagement to our employees who look to us…who trust us. 

There are several things we are doing at Mercury specific to recent COVID-19 developments that nurture our new, trust-based workplace culture.

Working from Home – Protected, Engaged, and Connected

Nearly everyone is doing this now. Placing the care and protection of employees as priority one was an early signal to them that trust is foundational; that we are committed both to protecting them and to treating them as the professionals they are.

However, there are several intricacies that we incorporated with our WFH program to better reinforce our commitment to living up to the trust placed in us. So, yes, we employed the tools we have been investing in over the years, although on a much larger scale than perhaps originally planned, to help our people work ably and comfortably from home. However, it seems we are now understanding their value in new ways.

For years, Mercury has used Skype—the communications app that provides video chat and voice calls between computers, tablets, mobile devices—and Basecamp—a project management tool that helps create efficiencies—among other tech tools. And our teams have continued their use during our current mandatory WFH policy, but what is emerging is a new value beyond business applications. We’re seeing these business tools put to use to remain virtually connected, helping combat a feeling of social isolation since we are no longer collocated. Our managers are hosting daily video check-ins with teams – seeing their faces, sharing their days, sharing their struggles. And now we are seeing the rise of virtual happy hours hosted by management/leadership, with families and friends welcome to attend. Project management platforms are becoming spaces for casual chats, places to post pictures of WFH setups, inspiring stories of service, and tools to share cartoons or memes related to the challenges of working from home while your whole family is hunkered down with you. By supplying our employees with tools like these, we are earning the trust they have placed in us to help them still feel engaged in a moment of crisis. Using connection for connection.

Economic Well-Being – Offering Another Level of Protection

Our continued support also means addressing and helping remove undue burdens that are outside of our employees’ control – especially those that are financial in nature – caused by the change in landscape due to COVID-19. Navigating this uncharted territory has particular challenges. Perhaps our employees are juggling responsibilities with limited or no childcare, taking on home-schooling duties they never anticipated, dealing with the stress of a partner who finds themselves temporarily unemployed, or suddenly having more family members at home to care for. With this comes unexpected financial strains. At Mercury, we have established the Mercury Employee COVID-19 Relief Fund, an employee reserve initially capitalized at $1 million, to support those in most need. This includes an immediate relief payment for hourly employees who are not able to work from home. It also includes discretionary funds to be allocated to those hourly employees struggling with severe financial challenges brought about by COVID-19. While there may be more to do in the coming days and weeks, our hope is that this financial relief fund will help mitigate impacts of the virus on our most valuable stakeholders – our employees. We also updated our PTO policy to include an additional 80 hours of sick leave for those with Coronavirus-related circumstances. We didn’t want our employees to lose well-deserved vacation time or burn through regular sick time because of this unexpected crisis. We want them to trust we always have their overall well-being in mind – financial or physical – and rest assured they can count on it as we move forward.

Communication

How else can we live up to the trust our employees have in us to keep them informed in times like these other than to communicate – early and often. As our HR policies rapidly evolve to keep up with changes necessitated by this pandemic, our employees will understandably feel uncertain and look to us for ongoing and clear communication of policies. At Mercury, we placed an easily recognizable link to COVID-19 resources and documents on our company intranet, accessible with just a click. This includes the following:

  • FAQs that are regularly updated, with update alerts emailed companywide
  • Social distancing guidelines
  • News articles
  • A link to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  • Company documents
    • CEO messages/videos
    • How to submit time-off requests due to COVID

In addition, we employ Everbridge, an application that automates and accelerates our operational response to critical events in order to keep people safe and business running. During public safety threats or critical business events, this mass alert system enables us to quickly and reliably aggregate and assess threat data, locate people at risk, identify responders able to assist, automate the delivery of pre-defined, secure communications to a variety of employee devices, and track progress on executing our response plans.

I believe we are at a crossroad with COVID-19. As HR professionals, we should use our experience with COVID-19 as an opportunity to lean in to developing and nurturing a trust-based workplace culture, inventing new and different ways to convey this to our employees. At Mercury, we believe the opportunities presented us by the challenges of this new landscape will only reinforce the values of our culture and the purpose to which we are all committed: Innovation That Matters.

Mercury Commitment - COVID-19

Our Commitment to Combating COVID-19

As the world – especially government and business leaders – continues to respond to the novel coronavirus taking center stage on the global agenda, we recognize that these uncertain times require an even greater responsibility to our people, customers and partners.

As ever, we remain focused on the health and safety of our teams – and supporting them through myriad ways in keeping with our culture and values as well as our purpose.

From promoting social distancing through flexible work from home arrangements and suspending nonessential travel, to establishing a cadence of regular communication and conducting deep cleaning at all of our facilities, we have taken immediate action to help ensure our workforce’s safety.

Our continued support also means removing undue burdens from our employees that are outside of their control – especially those that are financial in nature.

As a step in that direction, we have established the Mercury Employee COVID-19 Relief Fund, an employee reserve of up to $1 million USD, to support those in most need. This includes an immediate relief payment for hourly employees who are not able to work from home. It also includes discretionary funds to be allocated to those hourly employees struggling with severe financial challenges brought about by COVID-19. While there may be more to do in the coming days and weeks, our hope is that this financial relief fund will help mitigate impacts of the virus on our most valuable stakeholders – our team members.

These are trying times and uncharted territory for businesses around the world. The days ahead will be challenging, but now more than ever, I am proud to represent an organization defined by a collective spirit of compassion and steadfast resolve in face of adversity. As One Mercury we are working hand-in-hand – both internally and with our customers – to ensure our continued success. Thank you for your continued support.

RES-XR6 Alliance Rugged banner

Mercury and HPE have teamed up, and here are five reasons aerospace and defense should care

Earlier this month, we announced an exciting new collaboration with Hewlett Packard Enterprise to bring the world’s most comprehensive ecosystem of hardware and software modules to the edge of the battlefield. This will deliver an exceptional balance of performance, storage, reliability, manageability and efficiency for data-intensive defense and aerospace applications such as aeronautical engineering, satellite communications, guidance and tracking systems, destructive and non-destructive materials testing, propulsion and engine testing, surveillance and electronic warfare, impact studies, mechanical testing and vibration analysis.

Our new RES-XR6 Alliance server line makes this a reality, leveraging HPE’s mature and field-proven data center server platform (ProLiant) with its market-leading technologies and vast ecosystem of hardware/software modules, and coupling that with TAA-compliant components, U.S.-designed firmware, and threat-protection enhancements.

RES-XR6 HPE Mercury Systems Alliance
The power of HP Enterprise solutions meets the rugged, trusted, mission-critical technologies of Mercury Systems in the RES-XR6 Alliance servers

Top Five Benefits 

  1. Trade Agreements Act (TAA) compliance. The new RES-XR6 Alliance product line integrates TAA-compliant components with advanced threat protection features along with U.S.-designed firmware embedded in HPE silicon to meet customer requirements and reduce the risk of possible malicious components.
  2. Scalable compute platform. Allows users to scale HPE infrastructure, features and the applications that rely on them from the data center to edge/defense applications. This includes key features such as processor and memory sparing (redundant processors and memory) that deliver high availability and prevent single points of failure.
  3. Enterprise-grade management. Embedded management with HPE iLO 5. HPE Integrated Lights-Out (iLO) allows users to configure, monitor and update HPE servers seamlessly from anywhere in the world. Featuring the latest innovations in simplified operations, performance and security, HPE iLO allows the management of an entire server infrastructure with ease.  For HPE ProLiant Gen10 servers, iLO 5 provides several new improvements in security, speed and simplicity (some features require an optional iLO Advanced license).
  4. Reduced latency and reliable performance. HPE’s jitter-smoothing technology mitigates processor frequency fluctuation to reduce latency and deliver deterministic and reliable performance, ideal for high-performance computing such as the processing of sensor mission data. Jitter smoothing is available on all Intel-based Gen10 servers with iLO 5 and an iLO Advanced (or above) license.
  5. Secure supply chain. ProLiant components are shipped directly from HPE’s secure shipping with tamper-evident seals and tracking. For customers building highly sensitive mission-critical applications, these components can be assembled in a secure U.S. facility with TS/SCI-cleared personnel. Mercury and HPE flows down NIST 800-53 Supply Chain Security and DFARS counterfeit requirements to component manufacturers.

Our collaboration with HPE is an excellent example of how we make trusted, secure mission-critical technologies profoundly more accessible to the aerospace and defense customers that need them. In this case, deploying hyperscale data center processing to accelerate mission-critical defense and tactical edge applications. But don’t just take it from us—see what Sam Ceccola, HPE’s DoD Account Technologist, had to say about our partnership and the benefits it will deliver.

ETT 2020 Recap: Accessibility and Innovation in Embedded Technologies

Devon Yablonski speaks at ETT

On January 27 and 28, Mercury Systems joined VITA and some of the leading minds in embedded systems in Atlanta, Georgia, for Embedded Technology Trends (ETT) 2020 – a comprehensive forum on the latest trends and developments in the industry. This year, suppliers of component-, board- and system-level solutions joined industry media to discuss the path forward for continued innovation in embedded systems, and how best to carry that innovation over into the government and defense sectors.

Mercury Systems is proud to work in close partnership with our peers and organizations like VITA on the most challenging and important issues facing aerospace and defense. As in years past, ETT 2020 surfaced several key observations that validate our commitment to enabling affordable public-sector access to the most advanced commercial technologies.

AI Applications Driving the Industry Forward

More than almost anything else, the promise of new AI applications for embedded computing was top of mind at ETT this year. Among other topics, attendees wrestled with how to integrate the immense computing power required by AI into existing and upcoming platforms.

On Monday, January 27, Mercury’s Devon Yablonski, Principal Project Manager for Artificial Intelligence, gave a detailed look at how new applications leveraging AI are being translated to the defense industry, specifically at the tactical edge.

Devon demonstrated how a mirrored datacenter architecture is being built into aerospace and defense platforms that may not have access to the cloud, creating potentially significant challenges for data processing. As a solution, high-performance embedded edge computing (HPEEC) is transferring the data center to the edge, with the built-in security, trust, miniaturization, environmental protective packaging and cooling required for in-theater operation. This in turn is making military platforms smarter, more independent and more autonomous.

Moore’s Law Continues to Prevail

There was also much discussion at ETT regarding how (and how quickly) embedded computing technology will develop moving forward. As advancement through transistor miniaturization approaches an end, some have questioned whether Moore’s Law – the notion that the number of transistors on a given microchip will double every two years, with simultaneous reductions in costs – will hold true.

In his January 28 presentation, Mercury’s Tom Smelker, Vice President & General Manager of Custom Microelectronics Solutions, described advances in 2.5D packaging which dispelled some of those doubts, and suggested that the next phase of development will come from heterogeneous integration of silicon or chiplets – as predicted in the last page of Moore’s Law.

Among other advancements, 2.5D packaging will help continue to drive the industry forward by increasing time-to-market roughly 3x compared to monolithic design, reducing timelines from 3-4 years to 12-18 months.

Open Standards Are a Must

While there was collective optimism at ETT 2020, there was also some doubt regarding the future of open standards at the chip level. At present, chiplet manufacturers design using different, sometimes proprietary, chip-to-chip interfaces, creating inherent inefficiencies that have the potential to hamper growth.

In his presentation, Tom suggested that continued stagnation on establishing universal standards might ultimately dampen projected advances in cost efficiency and development time, as companies continue to operate under multiple standards.

Of course, the question then becomes how best to move forward on open standards. While that question remains unanswered, the conversations we had at ETT 2020 – including detailed analyses of new technologies as well as best practices for consensus-building – leave us ever optimistic about the path ahead.

RES-AI

Delivering Trusted and Game-Changing Technology and Answering Industry Demands: Observations From AUSA 2019

On the Main Stage

Mercury Systems recently joined some of the foremost defense and technology companies in the world at the Association of the United States Army’s (AUSA) Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. The annual gathering is one of the most prominent events for companies operating in or with the public sector, and brings private sector innovation together with some of the senior-most military officials in the world, all in the name of supporting and protecting the warfighter.

This year’s meeting was particularly special for us here at Mercury Systems as we announced a $15M USD investment in our secure microelectronics capabilities, the latest step in an ongoing effort to enhance our capabilities in the space dating back to our 2016 acquisition of Microsemi’s custom microelectronics business. As a company working hand-in-hand with some of the most prominent names in silicon technology, and with a proud legacy of partnership with the public sector, we are uniquely positioned to transfer private-side innovation to the defense industry. 

An Exciting Time for Our Industry

From in-person meetings with our peers, to broader industry buzz on the show floor, to our own events on-site, this year’s event revealed some key insights that remind us of the challenges ahead, and give us confidence that we’re on the right path.

Silicon Manufacturing Is Moving Just as Fast as We Thought

It’s no secret that silicon manufacturing is moving at breakneck speed – made even more apparent during a fireside conversation between our new Chief Technology Officer Dr. William (Bill) Conley, our VP and GM Tom Smelker and Bryan Clark, Senior Fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. Their discussion focused on the state of play in secure microelectronics and reaffirmed the need for innovation that matters in the public sector.

Private Sector Investment Is an Absolute Imperative

Conversations at the event not only underscored the speed with which the industry is moving, but also made clear the need for private sector investment in order for the defense community to keep pace with the latest technologies. Silicon technologies are advancing at a rate that simply cannot be met by the defense community alone, so it is critical that public sector entities with mission-critical needs have access to innovation via a trusted private sector conduit. At Mercury, we’re packaging the foremost advances in silicon technology at DMEA-accredited facilities, transferring private sector innovation over into the defense community in a secure manner.

Trust is Key

This month’s event also further highlighted the eagerness in the industry for a bridge from the public to private sector that will advance the U.S.’s national security interests and protect its warfighters, and I’m especially proud that we are helping to transform the intersection of technology and defense, making leading-edge ‘defense-ready’ processing capabilities profoundly more accessible. While we drive innovation, the Department of Defense must ensure military technology is being manufactured in a secure, trusted environment. Mercury is uniquely equipped to resolve these immense impediments by transferring breakthrough advances in technology to the defense industry affordably and with a proven history of making trusted and secure high-tech solutions.

Full Speed Ahead

The defense community wants and needs a trusted partner not afraid of the pace of change in the private sector. We’re proud to serve that role, making trusted, secure mission-critical technologies profoundly more accessible. Our path is clear, and we have the right industry-leading team to deliver innovation that matters. We look forward to sharing more in the coming months as our recent investment becomes a reality.

Rugged Processing AI

GPU Processing at the Edge

Uncompromised data center processing capability deployable anywhere

Evolving compute-intensive AI, SIGINT, autonomous vehicle, Electronic Warfare (EW), radar and sensor fusion applications require data center-class processing capabilities closer to the source of data origin – at the edge. This has driven the need for HPC to evolve into high performance embedded edge computing (HPEEC). Delivering HPEEC capabilities presents challenges as every application has its own survivability, processing, footprint, and security requirements. To address this need, we partner with technology leaders, including NVIDIA, to align technology roadmaps and deliver cutting-edge computing in scalable, field-deployable form-factors that are fully configurable to each unique mission.

What it delivers: HPEEC leverages the latest data center processing and co-processing technologies to accelerate the most demanding workloads in the harshest and most contested environments. Customer benefits include:
· The ability to scale compute applications from the cloud to the edge with rugged embedded subsystems that adhere to open standards and integrate the latest commercial technologies.
· Maximized throughput with contemporary NVIDIA® graphics processing units (GPUs), Intel® Xeon® Scalable server-class processors, contemporary field-programmable gate array (FPGA) accelerators, and high-speed, low-latency networking. 
· Advanced embedded security options that deliver trusted performance and safeguard critical data.

Scaled HPEEC Node
Fig 1. Compose your HPEEC solution with Mercury EnsembleSeries OpenVPX building blocks that include CPU blades powered by Intel Xeon Scalable processors, wideband PCIe switch fabrics and powerful GPU and FPGA co-processing engines that form a truly composable HPEEC architecture. Highly rugged and with built-in BuiltSECURE SSE, these compute solutions are ideally suited to the most hostile and size, weight and size (SWaP) constrained environments characteristic of defense and aerospace applications.

Scaling

We work closely with technology leaders to deliver a composable data center architecture that can be deployed anywhere. As a Preferred Member of the NVIDIA OEM Partner Program our engineering teams leverage their collective capabilities to embed and make secure the latest GPU co-processing resources for defense and aerospace applications. Packaged as rugged OpenVPX modules, these system building blocks are a critical HPEEC scaling element. For even greater interoperability and scalability, these GPU co-processing engines are aligned with the Sensor Open System Architecture (SOSA). In this age of smarter everything, SOSA seeks to place the best technology in the hands of service men and women quicker.

Maximized throughput

Delivering uncompromised data center performance at the edge requires environmental protection. Our proven fifth generation of advanced packaging, cooling and advanced interconnects protect electronics from the harshest environments, keeps them cool for long reliable service lives and enables the fastest switch fabric performance in any environment. The ability to work closely with technology leaders like Intel enables us to package the most general processing capability with hardware enabled AI accelerators as miniaturized OpenVPX blades that form another pillar of a truly composable HPEEC solution (fig 1).

Security

Security has always been important and today it is critical. The closer processing goes to the edge, the more critical this requirement becomes. Proven across tens of defense programs, our embedded BuiltSECURETM technologies counter nation-state reverse engineering with systems security engineering (SSE). BuiltSECURE technology is extensible to deliver system-wide security that evolves over time, building in future proofing. As countermeasures are developed to offset emerging threats, the BuiltSECURE framework keeps pace, maintaining system-wide integrity.

What’s next?

We will soon be announcing an expansion to our portfolio of NVIDIA-powered OpenVPX co-processor engines with the introduction of dual Quadro TU-104 GPU powered configurations. These rugged co-processing engines will feature greater BuiltSECURE capabilities making them exportable as well as enabling them to be deployed anywhere. These options will have NVIDIA’s new NVLinkTM high-speed GPU-to-GPU bus fully implemented to deliver uncompromised data center capability at the edge.

To learn more visit GTC and see Devon Yablonski present “GPU processing at the edge” live – #GTC19