Articles

Signal Processing Applications

 

To solve tough problems like synthetic aperture radar, sensor fusion, and target recognition processing, the military wants and needs performance. That requirement means getting the fastest throughput in the smallest package with the lowest power penalty. The hunger for performance is even more true for autonomous platforms - from aircraft to ground vehicles - that require high-bandwidth processing to "think" for themselves and act on their own, as well as to perform basic sensor and mission processing, self-protection, and communications and navigation functions.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Inertial and magnetic sensors are becoming quite pervasive. When driving our cars or as simple pedestrians, most of us would have a hard time finding our way around without the navigation applications they support. Our smartphones rely on electronic co...[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Network performance can be an issue for VxWorks, especially in demanding applications like signal/image/radar processing. However, designers can get full-speed 40 Gbps Ethernet out of VxWorks.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Embedded computing designers continue to look at ways to cost-effectively integrate FPGAs into their PC/104 and other small form factor designs while battling the time-consuming and difficult task of programming the devices.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Today, GPU options have expanded to include Intel’s Core i7 products, whose built-in GPU functionality and AVX math library support continues to grow. On the FPGA front, we’re starting to see devices with built-in ARM cores, while discrete GPU devices are delivering expanded functionality as well.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

High-definition (HD) digital electro-optic and infrared sensors are shoveling evermore data into the battle space. How can soldiers get that information quickly enough to act on it in a timely manner?[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Designers of high performance embedded computing (HPEC) systems for the military and aerospace market have some options when choosing the primary processor for signal- and image-processing applications. Designers can cast field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) or graphics processing units (GPUs) in the starring role.

In the past the military was wedded to FPGAs mostly because there was no middle ground between FPGAs and cost-prohibitive application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs). Program managers thought nothing of building a complete electronic warfare (EW) system with FPGAs. [Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

GTC – the Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) Technology Conference – used to be the preserve of the video gaming mavens, but as General Purpose GPU (GPGPU) computing has taken off in the wider world, attendees now hail from a far wider background. Lately these non-gamer aficionados have become even more excited. What’s going on?

The answer is NVIDIA’s new Tegra K1 System-on-Chip (SoC). This “superchip” combines a quad-core Central Processing Unit (CPU) with 192 parallel processing GPU cores. Intended for mobile devices such as gaming units, cell phones, and tablet computers, the Tegra scored an amazing 60 frames per second in the GFXBench at 1920x1080 resolution. But the new SoC’s most compelling feature is that it can achieve this performance while consuming less than 10 watts of power.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Funding requested for Department of Defense (DoD) Major Defense Acquisition Programs (MDAPs) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 totals $94.9 billion, more than $17 billion dollars over the FY 2017 request, making up 46 percent of the Trump administration's $208.6 billion FY 2018 acquisition budget request.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Thanks to its proven reliability, cost-effectiveness and size, weight, and power (SWaP) optimization, commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) equipment is becoming increasingly attractive to system designers for use in space applications. As COTS equipment extends into mission-critical functions, the risks to the COTS electronics posed by space radiation need to be understood and mitigated.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

As the Industrial Internet demands more out of resource-constrained industrial data acquisition systems, sensor processing platforms are required to add performance while reducing size, weight, and power (SWaP). Rubin Dhillon, Marketing Director of the Embedded Systems division at GE Intelligent Platforms discusses his company’s approach to developing “brilliant machines,” and how off-the-shelf hardware is enabling these sensor platforms for the Industrial Internet.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Simulation tests of aerodynamics are conducted to improve the physical designs of a variety of products so as to enhance overall safety, comfort, and performance. The larger the object being tested, the more complicated the test will be. Test and measurement solutions based on PXI Express (PXIe) architecture can help to simplify and speed up system installation.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

As the type and number of military and national security threats increase, so does the sophistication and capabilities of Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) systems needed to address those threats. The problem, however, is that developing and operating advanced ISR systems is costly, and in many cases a user does not have the time, resources, acquisition processes, or technological maturity to make an ISR procurement practical.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Modern radar and electronic warfare designs rely heavily on embedded computing systems that leverage high-speed commercial processors and FPGAs to find every target or signal and enable the warfighter to respond in real time. Meanwhile, signal processing system designers are cutting costs by using parallel compute platforms such as OpenCL that work across multiple chip platforms.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Many small form factors, including PC/104 and COM Express, are currently used to build SFF systems, though the industry is working to expand the catalog of SFF standards. However, existing form factors meet the needs of rugged SFF system applications and may be preferable over new, unestablished form factors.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

In this significant year for small form factors, the Small Form Factor Special Interest Group (SFF-SIG) thanks Paul Rosenfeld for three and a half years of leadership, during which time four specifications were developed, published, and promoted by several working groups.

As we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the PC/104 specification as a managed open standard, it is our duty to honor the contributions and efforts of its principal founder, Mr. Rick Lehrbaum. There isn’t a better way to honor him than to celebrate the sustained momentum of the PC/104 ISA bus, as well as the growth of a complementary new expansion interface: SUMIT.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Military systems are noted for their high processing demands, a situation that is particularly true for graphics processing. Like their commercial counterparts, military displays are becoming faster, higher-resolution, and more complex. Both defense surveillance and commercial video-game applications, for example, share a need for the maximum possible raw graphics computational horsepower.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Sensor platforms are proliferating around the edges of the network in both the civilian and the military spheres. For examples, think of the remote devices on buses, trucks, and oil rigs that are monitored via the Internet of Things (IoT) or the unmanned surveillance nodes in the network-centered warfare infrastructure. To be effective, these "edge" devices need to be as self-sufficient as possible, not just in processing capability but also in energy use.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

The payloads of military unmanned aircraft systems (UASs) continue to evolve - using smarter sensors and a smaller overall footprint - but must overcome size, weight, and power (SWaP) design hurdles, as well as slower-than-desirable sensor processing, lack of bandwidth in downlinks, and security challenges.

As military UASs continue to evolve and shrink in size – think swarms of tiny drones – their resulting payload footprints pose numerous tight SWaP design space constraints and tradeoffs, together with sensor processing, datalink bandwidth, and security issues as well.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Designers of signal-processing systems for electronic warfare (EW) applications faced with requirements for reduced size, weight, and power (SWaP) along with more processing power are creating multifunction systems that leverage high-speed field-programmable gate array (FPGA) technology.

Electronic warfare, for decades, has been a kingdom rife with customized systems and stovepipe technology based on closed architectures. As enemy threats become more sophisticated, EW designers face pressure to create systems that can adapt and respond effectively in real time. Their efforts are resulting in multifunction systems that marry different types of EW, such as signals intelligence (SIGINT) and electronic intelligence (ELINT), as well as EW and radar functions in one box.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Sensor platforms are proliferating around the edges of the network in both the civilian and the military spheres. For examples, think of the remote devices on buses, trucks, and oil rigs that are monitored via the Internet of Things or the unmanned surveillance nodes in the network-centered warfare infrastructure. To be effective, these "edge" devices need to be as self-sufficient as possible, not just in processing capability but also in energy use.

Size, weight, and power (SWaP) has long been the mantra for embedded electronics. Every military platform, from the humblest handheld device or miniature unmanned vehicle to the largest weapon system must face these constraints at some level. For battery-dependent devices, energy efficiency is a more urgent concern. The smaller the platform, the bigger the bite from power-hungry computers.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Like the rest of the world, the oceans and the vast spaces beneath them are growing more dangerous. International adversaries are projecting power more aggressively with fighting ships and submarines. Smaller, quieter vessels are being employed, and reverberation-rich littoral waters are now key to protecting shorelines. Sonars and sonar processing need to keep up with the threat.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Dramatic increases in sensor resolution in remote-sensing space payloads are causing a processing bottleneck, as downlink bandwidth is not keeping pace. Operators require onboard processing so that satellites send processed information, not just raw data. It is a growing challenge for the roughly 100 remote sensing satellites launched each year, each carrying as many as eight payload instruments. Flash-based field-programmable gate array (FPGA) technology is now being applied to the problem, combining high-speed signal processing with special built-in radiation mitigation techniques to keep systems operational in harsh radiation environments.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Aerospace and defense applications must support higher-bandwidth sensor input, more complex intersystem communications, and greater security for certain operations and related custom algorithms, all while contending with budget and schedule pressures. In addition to these broad challenges, application areas such as mission computing face the added difficulty of designing systems that meet restrictive size, weight, and power (SWaP) constraints. Increasing function density within a current space envelope is a common way of addressing these challenges.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Countering the growing "backdoor" threat posed by terrorists, smugglers, pirates, and political activists at military air and naval bases, airports, and ports requires sophisticated multisensor surveillance systems to ensure that incursions are rapidly detected and actioned. A hybrid approach that brings together conventional radar systems with high-resolution video imaging sensors, radar, and video trackers - incorporating Automatic Dependent Surveillance - Broadcast (ADS-B) and Automatic Identification System (AIS) transponder technology to filter out authorized targets - can deliver the high-accuracy threat detection needed even in adverse climatic conditions and poor visibility.

A typical secured site presents multiple challenges to the deployment of an effective surveillance and security system. The layout of the site may mean that certain locations are hidden from the view of a given sensor, resulting in a security vulnerability unless steps are taken to improve coverage. Differentiation between real threats and legitimate movements, both outside and within the site, is essential to avoid real incursions becoming “lost in the noise.” Moreover, these threats may take multiple forms – unauthorized individuals/insurgents, vehicles or vessels, or airborne objects including small malicious drones may all represent real incursions; a surveillance system needs to provide early detection of all anticipated threat types.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

The possibilities of display technologies in military applications; the software and networking that keeps it all together. “What is possible” in technology seems to start in the imaginations of screenwriters and science fiction stories, and then moves sooner or later into reality. We’ve all watched movies such as Elysium or Minority Report and have seen the transparent computer screens and video walls with information being moved and tossed by swipe touch gestures. As consumers, we become aware of the newest technologies as they relate to making our lives easier or increasing our level of entertainment satisfaction, such as 4K televisions, heads-up displays (HUD) in our cars, and gaming platforms such as Xbox Kinect air-gesture technology.

Sometimes the trickle-down effect starts in the highest levels of military operation, such as the HUD in military aircraft. However, sometimes technology advances first mature in either the industrial or retail markets, achieving technological cost efficiencies before making their way into military operations. [Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

The graphics display support built directly into the latest generations of Intel Core i7 processors is now more than sufficient for providing video processing for many types of low- to mid-end deployed military applications. The use of a Single-Board Computer (SBC) that features an “Ivy Bridge,” “Sandy Bridge,” or “Haswell” class of Intel processor can often eliminate the need for an additional embedded card such as a dedicated 3U VPX or XMC graphics display module. However, there are a number of cases in which an integrated Intel graphics approach won’t be able to meet the requirements of a particular military system, either because of performance, lack of support for specific hardware interface types, or the lack of software drivers for supporting OpenGL in real-time operating environments and safety certification.

At the low- to mid-end of video-display applications, the graphics processing capability of the newest Intel processors is typically satisfactory. For example, if the graphics processor will be used to drive a mission computer type of Human Machine Interface (HMI) to an HD touchscreen video display, the integrated Intel GPU will be able to handle the job. On the other hand, if the application places great demands on system memory and has critical performance requirements, the integrated GPU might not be sufficient because of the shared-memory model used by the Intel processors. Applications that require intensive processing and near-real-time display of complex images, such as digital mapping systems, need to be closely analyzed to ensure that the use of integrated graphics will suffice.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Embedded Tech Trends 2014, the business and technology forum for critical and intelligent embedded systems, just wrapped up in Phoenix. This year 19 sponsor companies and 13 editors and industry analysts gathered for an intensive two days of technology presentations and meetings. Twenty-five presentations were delivered in a very fast paced format that kept everyone on their toes. Each morning session of presentations was followed by a hectic afternoon of one-on-one sponsor/media meetings.

The purpose of the event is to bring media and industry thought leaders together to exchange ideas and to network among peers. It is good old fashioned face-to-face networking that is not possible with even the best of online social media networks. Nothing beats spending a few days with such a collection of industry colleagues. I left the event filled with new ideas and industry connections.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Improved power-to-performance ratios with multicore processors in VPX systems are boosting viability and reducing reliance on the high costs of FPGA development. Since they fundamentally change the way signal processing is implemented, parallel-rate microprocessors do away with hand-coding threads and math algorithms and more efficiently bring together powerful computing platforms that can take full advantage of state-of-the-art processor features. (Lead image: U.S. Army Spc. Nathan Williams from the 263rd Army Air Missile Defense Command deploys a Sentinel radar system. Radar systems like Sentinel depend on high-performance signal processing systems. DoD photo by Staff Sgt. Jacob N. Bailey, U.S. Air Force.)[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

The Naval Tactical Data System (NTDS), first developed in the 1960s, is still widely used in naval platforms worldwide and has a large installed base, but is in decline as new systems are not using the technology. In this Q&A with Michael Carter, CEO and President of Sabtech, a leading designer of NTDS products, he tells Military Embedded Systems about where NTDS technology is today, managing its obsolescence issues, and how reduced Size, Weight, and Power (SWaP) requirements are affecting system designs. Edited excerpts follow.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

The original VMEbus specification was tightly coupled to the Motorola 68000 bus architecture; since then, the open architectures defined by the various VITA standards are no longer restricted to any specific processor technology. This feature takes a look at the status of the current choice of processors.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Cost pressures and consumer handheld technology increasingly drive rugged wearable computer designs for warfighter applications. Meanwhile, new ISR requirements for full motion video are pushing rugged display designers to innovate image enhancement technology.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

David argues that an embedded open-architecture audio processor can hit the below 1 mW active power consumption mark.Typical audio transceivers now involve more sophisticated solutions, and demand for audio processors has never been higher. This stems partly from the popularity of convenient communication devices, such as mobile phones or even laptop computers using VoIP, and from the demand for clear communication free of echo and noise in all environments. Such communication quality is only possible thanks to the implementation of increasingly complex DSP algorithms that can improve audio performance under increasingly diverse and challenging conditions.

At the same time, design engineers have less freedom when it comes it to the amount of available system power and board space. As a result, the need to implement more complex digital audio processing solutions that consume less power and require less physical space is driving the development of audio processing techniques in general and embedded DSP-based solutions in particular. [Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Though they offer significant advantages compared to spectrum-analyzer-based methods, traditionally, vector network analyzers have not been used to characterize the group delay of analog satellite transponders, due to the lack of access to the RF signals or the time bases of the internal Local Oscillators (LOs) within the transponder. A new way to make group delay measurements of embedded-LO converters with modern VNAs will yield increased measurement speeds and significant accuracy improvements.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

The next-generation network is the evolution, and bringing together, of a number of technologies. Successfully bridging the old circuit switched networks and the new packet infrastructure is a fundamental necessity. The new network has constructed a ...[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Voice over IP (VolP) has become a primary focus of attention because it lies at the heart of the trend toward the convergence of data and voice communications. This new technology offers great promise in the more efficient use of scarce bandwidth for ...[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

Signal Processing Types

 

Modern radar and electronic warfare (EW) systems rely on sophisticated signal processing and complex radio-frequency (RF) modulation on pulse. Without proper signal design verification, these techniques may not be effective during critical engagements, which could be catastrophic for the operator. Determining the radar's ability to successfully detect and track targets or an EW system's ability to identify threats and avoid detection or tracking can be challenging. Advanced RF signal analysis and RF pulsed signal capture techniques (variable segment length, de-interleaving, duplex IF real-time analysis) that enable designers to measure signal parameters and confirm the proper operation of their radar or EW systems.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Electronic warfare (EW), the use of the electromagnetic spectrum to foil enemy forces and protect friendly ones, is perhaps the most time-sensitive of all the weapons in the military arsenal: a matter of nanoseconds could make the difference between life and death. That's why latency is so critical to EW processing systems. If a radar-guided missile is heading for your aircraft at Mach 5, the aircraft's radar jammer had better be quick - quick to take in the signal, manipulate it, and retransmit it to fool the adversary with false targets or misleading data on size, distance, heading, speed. Digital RF memories (DRFMs), the specialized RF jammers that do just that, require receive-response latencies of 20 to 100 nanoseconds. Compared to radars - which transmit pulses and receive echoes - DRFMs - which receive pulses and retransmit the signals modulated with jamming techniques - have much more stringent latency requirements.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

High performance embedded computing (HPEC) system designers tasked with architecting large-scale supercomputer-class processing systems for radar, signal intelligence (SIGINT), and electronic warfare (EW) applications depend greatly on the software development tools available to them. The choice of development tools - such as debuggers, profilers, and cluster managers - can result in an intimate relationship; often the choice means the success or failure of the system design.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Advancements in processor technology mean that engineers and designers are able to meet the demand of signal-processing requirements in applications ranging from radar and software-defined radios to high-performance embedded computing (HPEC), and space systems. Designing for exacting high- bandwidth as well as size, weight, and power (SWaP) requirements are no longer a major challenge, but now are simply a checkbox in the design process. Even so, challenges remain, but designers are finding ways to face those issues by using fiber-optic technology, multicore processors, commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) components, and codesign methodologies.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Here's the problem: Your unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) is flying through densely populated geography when one of its signal intelligence (SIGINT) systems' radio-frequency (RF) channels detects an emitter signal of interest on a specific frequency, indicating a potential target. It's not enough to know there's a potential threat out there somewhere. You need to know the threat's exact location, and you need to know it in near-real-time. The challenge is that to geolocate a particular emitter, the SIGINT system needs to reassign three or four of its other RF channels, so they can - along with the original channel - perform the interferometry, using TDOA [Time Difference of Arrival] localization techniques, that's needed to zero in on the potential target.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

In all areas of business, increased communication leads to more streamlined processes and greater potential for success. This is no less true in system design. Within large design organizations, baseband field programmable gate array (FPGA) and radio frequency (RF) signal processing communities have traditionally been separated both physically and by the resources available to them--with each group using very different techniques and tools. Today, however, many RF functions are moving into the algorithmic world and this is making communication between the two areas more crucial than ever.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Wider frequency communication bands require not only a larger observed bandwidth from a system analog-to-digital converter (ADC), but can also push the need for a higher full-power bandwidth. In some applications, such as electronic warfare (EW) and active phased-array radar, this can require the use of a higher order Nyquist rate band. Next-generation gigasamples per second (GSPS) ADCs allow GHz sampling well into the 3rd and 4th Nyquist band with decimation options to get the dynamic range benefits of oversampling. If an ADC's input bandwidth is high enough, it is possible to downconvert directly in the ADC by undersampling the infrared (IF) signal of interest. Higher-bandwidth input signals and sample rates enable direct RF sampling of wider band signals and possible reduction of an entire stage in a signal chain for lower system power and simplicity.

ADC undersampling is essentially the technique of using a sampling frequency that is less than twice the maximum frequency component in the signal. This technique can also be referred to as harmonic sampling, band pass sampling, or super-Nyquist sampling. To reconstruct the original signal perfectly from the sampled version, the Nyquist-Shannon Sampling theorem indicates that the sample rate must be twice the signal bandwidth of interest. This technique should not be mistaken with a sample rate that is twice the maximum IF frequency component. [Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

How does a designer choose a processor for a single-board computer? The answer depends on many factors besides a chip’s number-crunching prowess, including “macro” issues that arise from the outside environment, “micro” issues that are created by the chip itself, and intermediate issues relating to the board, box, and subsystem in which the device will function. Designers have to balance these factors and the interplay between them to select the best fit.

At the highest level the designer considers the likely physical and security challenges to the circuit. For example, can the chip be soldered to the host board to resist vibration and acceleration forces? Can it reject tampering and malware attacks? At the next level the designer considers factors such as the host board’s function, power budget, and size constraints. Will the board require graphics capability and can that capability be integrated into the processing chip? In some cases a chip’s versatility may trump its raw throughput. At the micro level the designer will consider factors such as throughput, power consumption, heat dissipation, and size. [Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

High-definition (HD) digital electro-optic and infrared sensors are shoveling evermore data into the battle space. How can soldiers get that information quickly enough to act on it in a timely manner?[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Over the past few decades, mixed-signal integrated circuit (IC) design has been one of the most exciting and technically challenging segments of the semiconductor industry. Despite all of the advances that have occurred in the semiconductor industry over that time span, the one constant need is still to ensure the analog world we live in interacts seamlessly with the digital world of computing, a requirement especially driven by the current pervasive mobile environment and the rapidly emerging Internet of Things (IoT) "re-evolution."[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

When designers are trying to select a component in the signal path of a satellite system, it is often difficult to find a device with both the radiation tolerance and accuracy required. Signal integrity is, after all, the key specification when designing an analog signal chain. The main causes of error to the integrity of the signal chain can be divided into two categories: inaccuracies due to noise and inaccuracies due to shifts in voltage. While it is important to consider all components in the signal path, one component is the most critical in achieving precision performance: the voltage reference.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Simulation tests of aerodynamics are conducted to improve the physical designs of a variety of products so as to enhance overall safety, comfort, and performance. The larger the object being tested, the more complicated the test will be. Test and measurement solutions based on PXI Express (PXIe) architecture can help to simplify and speed up system installation.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Electronic Warfare (EW) system designers are taking advantage of the performance leaps in commercial technology, driven by high-volume commercial markets such as telecommunications and cloud computing. These components such as FPGAs combine speed, high connectivity, and low power consumption for signal-processing intensive EW platforms such as fighter aircraft and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Modern radar and electronic warfare designs rely heavily on embedded computing systems that leverage high-speed commercial processors and FPGAs to find every target or signal and enable the warfighter to respond in real time. Meanwhile, signal processing system designers are cutting costs by using parallel compute platforms such as OpenCL that work across multiple chip platforms.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

National Semiconductor Corp. has announced the availability of seven new 24-bit and 16-bit multi-channel sensor AFEs (analog front-ends) to enable designers to easilly configure signal paths from interface sensors to microcontrollers.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Texas Instruments has announced availability of the new TRF7970A NFC (near-field communications) transceiver, which they claim offers the industry's lowest power, extending battery life "up to 2 times longer than competitive products" by virtue of eight selectable power modes. TI is also offering royalty-free software stacks for the TRF7970A to developers, which they say are compatible across a broad range of the company's MSP microcontrollers.

Read more from Mike Demler's EE Daily News [Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Whether for noise removal or feature abstraction, selecting correctly between a linear or nonlinear filter for image processing applications could be the difference between "getting the picture."[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

Signal Processing COTS Standards

 

Recently, the U.S.-based Internet service provider OneWeb ordered 900 satellites to provide additional global broadband. Knowing that this volume is more than half of the total 1,400 satellites already in orbit, and knowing that the cost for sending one into space is about $100 million, the industry needs to start thinking about new technologies that could help manage the mass of satellites that must be produced every year.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

The xTCA for Physics PICMG standards work began in 2009 after several years of investigation into the suitability of ATCA as a controls platform for several new accelerators then under consideration.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

In the current environment of "open source everything," is there still a role for PICMG and open specifications? Doug Sandy, vice president of technology and CTO for PICMG, explores the past and future of PICMG within the emerging industry landscape.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

PICMG got its start back in 1994 with the development of the first edge card computing industry standard: PICMG 1.0. Since then edge card computing has evolved to incorporate the latest PCI Express interface methodology and implementation standards in the SHB Express or PICMG 1.3 industry standard.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Leaders of PICMG say that their standards continue to grow in adoption across the globe, with COM Express making huge inroads in Asia and Internet of Things (IoT) markets while CompactPCI Serial grows in acceptance in Europe.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Last year ended with the loss of Joe Pavlat, who successfully led this organization for over 20 years. He worked with members to establish PICMG as a global leader in open standards for embedded computing. We are grateful for his service and will continue to build and improve the organization he helped found.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

PICMG is a nonprofit consortium of companies and organizations that collaboratively develop open standards for high-performance telecommunications, military, industrial, and general-purpose embedded computing applications.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Summer ended with sad news for our OpenSystems Media family when we learned that our friend and coworker, Joe Pavlat, Editorial Director of PICMG Technologies magazine, passed away suddenly at his home in Grass Valley, California. He was only 63 years old.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Recently, the U.S.-based Internet service provider OneWeb ordered 900 satellites to provide additional global broadband. Knowing that this volume is more than half of the total 1,400 satellites already in orbit, and knowing that the cost for sending one into space is about $100 million, the industry needs to start thinking about new technologies that could help manage the mass of satellites that must be produced every year.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

The xTCA for Physics PICMG standards work began in 2009 after several years of investigation into the suitability of ATCA as a controls platform for several new accelerators then under consideration.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

In the current environment of "open source everything," is there still a role for PICMG and open specifications? Doug Sandy, vice president of technology and CTO for PICMG, explores the past and future of PICMG within the emerging industry landscape.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

PICMG got its start back in 1994 with the development of the first edge card computing industry standard: PICMG 1.0. Since then edge card computing has evolved to incorporate the latest PCI Express interface methodology and implementation standards in the SHB Express or PICMG 1.3 industry standard.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Leaders of PICMG say that their standards continue to grow in adoption across the globe, with COM Express making huge inroads in Asia and Internet of Things (IoT) markets while CompactPCI Serial grows in acceptance in Europe.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Last year ended with the loss of Joe Pavlat, who successfully led this organization for over 20 years. He worked with members to establish PICMG as a global leader in open standards for embedded computing. We are grateful for his service and will continue to build and improve the organization he helped found.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

PICMG is a nonprofit consortium of companies and organizations that collaboratively develop open standards for high-performance telecommunications, military, industrial, and general-purpose embedded computing applications.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Summer ended with sad news for our OpenSystems Media family when we learned that our friend and coworker, Joe Pavlat, Editorial Director of PICMG Technologies magazine, passed away suddenly at his home in Grass Valley, California. He was only 63 years old.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Intel's new Xeon D system-on-chip (SoC) is making large numbers of x86 processing cores readily available for embedded defense applications. With an architecture designed to support math-intensive processing and very-high-bandwidth data transfers, the Xeon D enables advanced cognitive electronic warfare (EW) applications to operate in small size, weight, and power (SWaP)-constrained platforms.

Unlike conventional radar systems, new software-defined digitally programmable radars are able to generate previously unencountered waveforms that do not match known waveforms and pulse trains already on an EW system’s pulse descriptor word (PDW) list. The PDW typically contains all the collected data for a specific pulse, including time of arrival (TOA); angle; pulse width, power, and frequency (superhet); or frequency band. In order to defeat never-before-seen waveforms, system designers are developing a new generation of cognitive EW systems that are able to quickly adapt to changes in the radio frequency (RF) environment and almost instantly make decisions about how to respond to unfamiliar threats. [Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Aerospace and defense applications must support higher-bandwidth sensor input, more complex intersystem communications, and greater security for certain operations and related custom algorithms, all while contending with budget and schedule pressures. In addition to these broad challenges, application areas such as mission computing face the added difficulty of designing systems that meet restrictive size, weight, and power (SWaP) constraints. Increasing function density within a current space envelope is a common way of addressing these challenges.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

VITA and PICMG are the open standards bodies that define the specifications underpinning embedded form factors such as VPX and CompactPCI. Both groups continue to provide a vital service to commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) component manufacturers and customers alike, enabling engineers to spend less time worrying about interoperability between subsystem components and more time working on application development.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

In the not too distant past, computers and RF were not to be in the same room, let alone the same piece of computing equipment. Then over the years the two became friendlier as microprocessors were used to control radios and eventually led to the creation of soft radios and today’s highly popular smart phone.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

GTC – the Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) Technology Conference – used to be the preserve of the video gaming mavens, but as General Purpose GPU (GPGPU) computing has taken off in the wider world, attendees now hail from a far wider background. Lately these non-gamer aficionados have become even more excited. What’s going on?

The answer is NVIDIA’s new Tegra K1 System-on-Chip (SoC). This “superchip” combines a quad-core Central Processing Unit (CPU) with 192 parallel processing GPU cores. Intended for mobile devices such as gaming units, cell phones, and tablet computers, the Tegra scored an amazing 60 frames per second in the GFXBench at 1920x1080 resolution. But the new SoC’s most compelling feature is that it can achieve this performance while consuming less than 10 watts of power.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

As the sophistication and capabilities of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) continue to evolve, engineers need to pay greater attention to end-to-end connectivity to avoid performance bottlenecks.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Several technology trends are driving advances in Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) payloads on Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) – higher compute capacity, the growing use of VPX, and locating the processor closer to the sensor.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

The Electronic Warfare (EW) market is increasingly diversified across almost every area of defense spending. Despite budget restraints, the market expects growth in the EW domain driven by the trend of EW systems to form a larger part of military activity. New technology offers engineers of EW or Electro-Optical/Infrared (EO/IR) systems the possibility to use remote high performance sensor modules using Gigabit/10 Gigabit serial interfaces to transmit their data sample flows. To manage and process this huge amount of data, engineers must define new, innovative, and open system architectures.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

OpenVPX

 
 

Intel's new Xeon D system-on-chip (SoC) is making large numbers of x86 processing cores readily available for embedded defense applications. With an architecture designed to support math-intensive processing and very-high-bandwidth data transfers, the Xeon D enables advanced cognitive electronic warfare (EW) applications to operate in small size, weight, and power (SWaP)-constrained platforms.

Unlike conventional radar systems, new software-defined digitally programmable radars are able to generate previously unencountered waveforms that do not match known waveforms and pulse trains already on an EW system’s pulse descriptor word (PDW) list. The PDW typically contains all the collected data for a specific pulse, including time of arrival (TOA); angle; pulse width, power, and frequency (superhet); or frequency band. In order to defeat never-before-seen waveforms, system designers are developing a new generation of cognitive EW systems that are able to quickly adapt to changes in the radio frequency (RF) environment and almost instantly make decisions about how to respond to unfamiliar threats. [Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Several design approaches exist for implementing beamforming processing tasks, with options ranging from GPUs to multicore CPUs, DSPs, and FPGAs. The unique strengths of FPGAs make them an increasingly appealing choice for beamforming when compared to their counterparts.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

VITA and PICMG are the open standards bodies that define the specifications underpinning embedded form factors such as VPX and CompactPCI. Both groups continue to provide a vital service to commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) component manufacturers and customers alike, enabling engineers to spend less time worrying about interoperability between subsystem components and more time working on application development.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Over the past several years, the Obama administration has indicated it would be changing focus from the Middle East and rebalance, or pivot, toward the Pacific. This "Pacific Pivot" regional strategy will require new roles and missions in "more contested" environments, which means that airborne intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) platforms will be required to operate differently than they have before.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Electronic Warfare (EW) system designers are taking advantage of the performance leaps in commercial technology, driven by high-volume commercial markets such as telecommunications and cloud computing. These components such as FPGAs combine speed, high connectivity, and low power consumption for signal-processing intensive EW platforms such as fighter aircraft and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

The Electronic Warfare (EW) market is increasingly diversified across almost every area of defense spending. Despite budget restraints, the market expects growth in the EW domain driven by the trend of EW systems to form a larger part of military activity. New technology offers engineers of EW or Electro-Optical/Infrared (EO/IR) systems the possibility to use remote high performance sensor modules using Gigabit/10 Gigabit serial interfaces to transmit their data sample flows. To manage and process this huge amount of data, engineers must define new, innovative, and open system architectures.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Modern radar and electronic warfare designs rely heavily on embedded computing systems that leverage high-speed commercial processors and FPGAs to find every target or signal and enable the warfighter to respond in real time. Meanwhile, signal processing system designers are cutting costs by using parallel compute platforms such as OpenCL that work across multiple chip platforms.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

High density power electronics with high efficiencies – typically more than 90 percent – are becoming the defacto requirement for high-end mission critical military platforms such as radar, fighter jets, UAVs, and weapon systems where size, weight, and power are limited. Meanwhile, Gallium Nitride based RF components are beginning to populate military RF applications.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

In this interview with engineers in the Machine Beam Controls Group at DESY, Holger Schlarb and Michael Fenner discuss the data acquisition requirements of the accelerator community, as well as how a tradition of using COTS signal processing solutions continues to improve uptime and maximize performance for some of the most complex machines on Earth.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

VITA and PICMG are the open standards bodies that define the specifications underpinning embedded form factors such as VPX and CompactPCI. Both groups continue to provide a vital service to commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) component manufacturers and customers alike, enabling engineers to spend less time worrying about interoperability between subsystem components and more time working on application development.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Embedded Tech Trends 2014, the business and technology forum for critical and intelligent embedded systems, just wrapped up in Phoenix. This year 19 sponsor companies and 13 editors and industry analysts gathered for an intensive two days of technology presentations and meetings. Twenty-five presentations were delivered in a very fast paced format that kept everyone on their toes. Each morning session of presentations was followed by a hectic afternoon of one-on-one sponsor/media meetings.

The purpose of the event is to bring media and industry thought leaders together to exchange ideas and to network among peers. It is good old fashioned face-to-face networking that is not possible with even the best of online social media networks. Nothing beats spending a few days with such a collection of industry colleagues. I left the event filled with new ideas and industry connections.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Getting to 100G with NPUs

Niel Viljoen, CEO, Netronome Systems[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

A couple days ago, someone asked me if Embedded Computing Design was all about mobile phones now. I’ll say that’s not quite true, but it is symptomatic. My job is to spot trends, and I’m pretty sure that “phonemance” (think “bromance,” only the object of affection is your phone, not your best buddy) has implications much larger for the embedded computing industry than any phone.

Have you heard or said this recently: “This phone is my life”? It’s even a hook in phone advertisements, with messages urging you to bring everything in your life together in one place and promising the ability to do anything, anywhere, even multiple things at the same time. What needs to be recognized is that this notion is driving our industry, for better or worse, and it’s a good idea to get your arms around it if you haven’t already.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Reflections on the success and evolution of 6U CompactPCI [Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

This article discusses the evolution of CompactPCI and how it is more than just an extension to PCI. [Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

This article discusses different components of the platform, how it works, and key points regarding its purpose. [Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

Signal Processing Techniques

 

In this interview with engineers in the Machine Beam Controls Group at DESY, Holger Schlarb and Michael Fenner discuss the data acquisition requirements of the accelerator community, as well as how a tradition of using COTS signal processing solutions continues to improve uptime and maximize performance for some of the most complex machines on Earth.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

There is a lot of talk about software revolutionizing the automotive industry and the conversation is growing because of how software management will impact the whole business of recalls. The outrageous amount of good money going after bad is the reason why car manufacturers and Tier 1 suppliers are looking for an optimized and alternative way to reduce the amount of time it takes to deliver a software update, reducing the cost associated with recalls and improving customer satisfaction. If the same method for performing automotive software updates in production, at the dealer, or at home continue, so will the inefficiencies that are causing car manufacturers to pay hundreds of millions of dollars every year.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

With military budgets under fire and program schedules increasingly pinched, design managers are focusing more than ever on cost. Gone are the days of gold-plated programs entailing high risk of cost overruns and schedule breaches. Suppliers are on the hot seat to deliver systems within tight cost and time constraints.

The situation is particularly challenging on the hardware side: The commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) revolution that kicked off in 1994 has increased performance and reduced costs despite the need to mitigate the obsolescence risks associated with dependence on the consumer electronics market. Yet the cost of developing software continues to rise. This reality means that, in order for customers to focus resources on adding value to their applications, the highly commoditized hardware side must bear the brunt of a new wave of retrenchment.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Video – in common with other sensor-derived data – plays an increasing role in today’s military. Its proliferation at all levels of command reflects a deep hunger on the part of decision makers for remotely collected imagery that helps them see threats and, if necessary, deploy soldiers and weapons. This data is all the more important in maximizing the effectiveness and minimizing the vulnerability of forces as troop levels decrease in theaters of war and, in the future, as the overall footprint changes. As such, the demand for image processing solutions is widely expected to increase.

This market development is all the more likely as potential uses for video multiply in number and expand in scope. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), for example, already uses captured video to monitor wildfires and hurricanes. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) uses it for border surveillance. And local jurisdictions want to use vehicle-captured video in law enforcement and public safety roles. [Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

While mobile device display performance continues to increase, system chip processes geometries continue to shrink, resulting in a greater proportion of system power consumed by the display and its high-speed interface. The new Embedded DisplayPort (eDP) v1.4 standard offers several new features that maximize system power efficiency, further consolidate the display interface, and address a wide range of system profiles to satisfy the growing demand for power optimization in the embedded display system.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Modern ASICs and FPGAs are tedious and time-consuming to verify and validate. Adding small, highly efficient on-chip capture infrastructure to the design makes this job much easier by providing 10x the visibility of instrumentation points for a given area. In addition, by using compression algorithms, logic analysis capture stations can capture data for 10x or more capture depth.ASICs and FPGAs have become massively complex, particularly for System-on-Chip (SoC) designs involving multiple cores. With this complexity comes longer and more tedious debug and validation cycles. Unfortunately, when something fails or goes wrong, gaining access to test points in highly integrated designs is next to impossible. Unless you want to spend weeks shooting in the dark at random errors while running through multiple prototypes, on-chip instrumentation is no longer optional; it’s a critical must-have. Figure 1 shows an overview of the debug process using on-chip instrumentation.

Figure 1: The instrumentation and debug cycle is critical to detect errors in FPGA prototypes.(Click graphic to zoom by 1.9x)While there are a number of ways to add instrumentation to FPGAs, a distributed approach using an instrument network is emerging as the preferred method, as it maximizes the number of potential observation points while minimizing silicon area or look-up table utilization requirements. Also critical to efficient debug is deep trace capture to see how the various parts of a system interact over time. Finally, designers must be able to observe the interactions of multiple devices and clock domains, both on- and off-chip, all fully time correlated for a true system-level perspective.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Multispectral electro-optical sensing plays a pivotal role in the detection of threats and movements of insurgents, terrorists, and other destabilizing forces operating with limited technology capability. Video is gathered from surveillance platforms, such as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), helicopters, or ground vehicles, which must then be analyzed and disseminated throughout the battlefield command structure as quickly as possible. Ethernet is the medium of choice for streaming video, but with its potentially limited bandwidth, real-time video compression is essential for the new breed of high-definition sensors or where many channels of video are to be carried.

Communications Surveillance platforms carry diverse types of sensor such as HDTV, regular TV, infrared, low light, and custom. Payloads also vary as each sensor platform does not have the space, endurance, electrical power, or cooling to support all sensors concurrently. Whichever kind of platform is deployed, wireless data links convey images to where they are needed for each specific mission. Typically, mobile sensor platforms will use either SATCOMs or digital data links to stream video. SATCOM is most often supported by large air and ground vehicles, whereas smaller platforms rely on air-to-ground digital radio channels with limited bandwidth.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are vital elements in the gathering of Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) data. UAVs carry a payload of electro-optical sensors plus lasers, radar, or signals intelligence. These sensors generate masses of data that are transmitted securely to the ground over limited-capacity data links. Assistance is needed on the ground to identify and classify targets so that the UAV can direct its sensors and alter its flight profile to track targets of interest. UAVs are in constant use and continuously evolving to detect and counter new threats. Operators and integrators are urgently seeking greater, proven capability, which is being provided by COTS products and related enabling technologies.

UAV requirements A surveillance UAV is essentially an unmanned sensor platform with well developed autonomous flight control allowing it to take off, follow flight plans, avoid obstacles, and land, but with limited mission autonomy. Size, Weight, and Power (SWaP) parameters can be so critical that COTS embedded computing standards might not be prime choice for the payload/sensor processing chain. However, because of the rapid design cycles needed to maintain tactical superiority, the infusion of proven and deployable enabling technologies – specifically COTS based – has become an essential development practice.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

By treating connectivity as a system, aerospace designers can evaluate various tradeoffs – copper versus fiber, types of shielding, cable construction, and the like – to meet requirements for both signal integrity and the environmental and mechanical needs of the application.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

New technology offers engineers of Software Defined Radio (SDR) systems diverse opportunities to apply digital signal processing much closer to the antenna than ever before. Various strategies include the latest wideband data converters, monolithic receiver chips, compact RF tuners, and remote receiver modules using gigabit serial interfaces. Each approach presents benefits and tradeoffs that must be considered in choosing the optimal solution for a given application.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

SDR receiver manufacturers' custom and proprietary digitized data formats can make interoperability quite a challenge. However, now the VITA 49 Radio Transport (VRT) standard is aiming to solve the problem.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Simulation tests of aerodynamics are conducted to improve the physical designs of a variety of products so as to enhance overall safety, comfort, and performance. The larger the object being tested, the more complicated the test will be. Test and measurement solutions based on PXI Express (PXIe) architecture can help to simplify and speed up system installation.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Modern radar and electronic warfare designs rely heavily on embedded computing systems that leverage high-speed commercial processors and FPGAs to find every target or signal and enable the warfighter to respond in real time. Meanwhile, signal processing system designers are cutting costs by using parallel compute platforms such as OpenCL that work across multiple chip platforms.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Often there are some advantages in using frequency domain techniques, as opposed to using strictly time domain techniques, to analyze signals obtained in data acquisition. The merits and possible issues of using a particular frequency-based transform methodology along with subsequent graphical analyses are discussed. Appropriate choices for analyzing signals in the frequency domain can often improve the overall system during the concept, development, and/or testing phase of many data acquisition systems.Frequency domain analysis plays an important role in the design and testing of many militarized systems, including wireless communications, remote sensing, radar processing, audio processing (such as speech recognition/authentication, watermarking, and compression/VoIP), and more. The development process of an embedded computing military application often requires sampling real-world physical systems through a data acquisition process that results in a digital representation of those signals.

Although the data representing these signals is most often sampled in the time domain, many applications engineers find it easier – and more conceptually clear – to work with the data in the frequency domain. This is because of the many engineering relationships governing information, which are typically described in the frequency domain. A thorough frequency analysis of the data being acquired and processed can facilitate the retrieval of subtle information contained within the signal and provide valuable insight into the real-world environment that will be encountered. Often that subtle information includes signal artifacts with very low Signal-to-Noise Ratios (SNRs), which might be missed in analyzing the data exclusively from the time domain.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Vendors producing off-the-shelf FPGA wares face the issue of offering the greatest flexibility with the fewest design iterations. Accordingly, VITA 57 (FPGA Mezzanine Card or FMC) is bridging FPGA I/O capability and the external world.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

This article discusses how using LabVIEW Real-Time, they were able to develop code to control the four outputs and a LabVIEW application for a Windows 2000 system that displays and logs all 100 analog input channels of data at 1000 samples per second a...[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

Signal Processing

 

High-definition (HD) digital electro-optic and infrared sensors are shoveling evermore data into the battle space. How can soldiers get that information quickly enough to act on it in a timely manner?[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Over the past few decades, mixed-signal integrated circuit (IC) design has been one of the most exciting and technically challenging segments of the semiconductor industry. Despite all of the advances that have occurred in the semiconductor industry over that time span, the one constant need is still to ensure the analog world we live in interacts seamlessly with the digital world of computing, a requirement especially driven by the current pervasive mobile environment and the rapidly emerging Internet of Things (IoT) "re-evolution."[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

When designers are trying to select a component in the signal path of a satellite system, it is often difficult to find a device with both the radiation tolerance and accuracy required. Signal integrity is, after all, the key specification when designing an analog signal chain. The main causes of error to the integrity of the signal chain can be divided into two categories: inaccuracies due to noise and inaccuracies due to shifts in voltage. While it is important to consider all components in the signal path, one component is the most critical in achieving precision performance: the voltage reference.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Simulation tests of aerodynamics are conducted to improve the physical designs of a variety of products so as to enhance overall safety, comfort, and performance. The larger the object being tested, the more complicated the test will be. Test and measurement solutions based on PXI Express (PXIe) architecture can help to simplify and speed up system installation.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Electronic Warfare (EW) system designers are taking advantage of the performance leaps in commercial technology, driven by high-volume commercial markets such as telecommunications and cloud computing. These components such as FPGAs combine speed, high connectivity, and low power consumption for signal-processing intensive EW platforms such as fighter aircraft and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Modern radar and electronic warfare designs rely heavily on embedded computing systems that leverage high-speed commercial processors and FPGAs to find every target or signal and enable the warfighter to respond in real time. Meanwhile, signal processing system designers are cutting costs by using parallel compute platforms such as OpenCL that work across multiple chip platforms.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

National Semiconductor Corp. has announced the availability of seven new 24-bit and 16-bit multi-channel sensor AFEs (analog front-ends) to enable designers to easilly configure signal paths from interface sensors to microcontrollers.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Texas Instruments has announced availability of the new TRF7970A NFC (near-field communications) transceiver, which they claim offers the industry's lowest power, extending battery life "up to 2 times longer than competitive products" by virtue of eight selectable power modes. TI is also offering royalty-free software stacks for the TRF7970A to developers, which they say are compatible across a broad range of the company's MSP microcontrollers.

Read more from Mike Demler's EE Daily News [Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Recently, the U.S.-based Internet service provider OneWeb ordered 900 satellites to provide additional global broadband. Knowing that this volume is more than half of the total 1,400 satellites already in orbit, and knowing that the cost for sending one into space is about $100 million, the industry needs to start thinking about new technologies that could help manage the mass of satellites that must be produced every year.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

The xTCA for Physics PICMG standards work began in 2009 after several years of investigation into the suitability of ATCA as a controls platform for several new accelerators then under consideration.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

In the current environment of "open source everything," is there still a role for PICMG and open specifications? Doug Sandy, vice president of technology and CTO for PICMG, explores the past and future of PICMG within the emerging industry landscape.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

PICMG got its start back in 1994 with the development of the first edge card computing industry standard: PICMG 1.0. Since then edge card computing has evolved to incorporate the latest PCI Express interface methodology and implementation standards in the SHB Express or PICMG 1.3 industry standard.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Leaders of PICMG say that their standards continue to grow in adoption across the globe, with COM Express making huge inroads in Asia and Internet of Things (IoT) markets while CompactPCI Serial grows in acceptance in Europe.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Last year ended with the loss of Joe Pavlat, who successfully led this organization for over 20 years. He worked with members to establish PICMG as a global leader in open standards for embedded computing. We are grateful for his service and will continue to build and improve the organization he helped found.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

PICMG is a nonprofit consortium of companies and organizations that collaboratively develop open standards for high-performance telecommunications, military, industrial, and general-purpose embedded computing applications.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Summer ended with sad news for our OpenSystems Media family when we learned that our friend and coworker, Joe Pavlat, Editorial Director of PICMG Technologies magazine, passed away suddenly at his home in Grass Valley, California. He was only 63 years old.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Recently, the U.S.-based Internet service provider OneWeb ordered 900 satellites to provide additional global broadband. Knowing that this volume is more than half of the total 1,400 satellites already in orbit, and knowing that the cost for sending one into space is about $100 million, the industry needs to start thinking about new technologies that could help manage the mass of satellites that must be produced every year.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

The xTCA for Physics PICMG standards work began in 2009 after several years of investigation into the suitability of ATCA as a controls platform for several new accelerators then under consideration.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

In the current environment of "open source everything," is there still a role for PICMG and open specifications? Doug Sandy, vice president of technology and CTO for PICMG, explores the past and future of PICMG within the emerging industry landscape.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

PICMG got its start back in 1994 with the development of the first edge card computing industry standard: PICMG 1.0. Since then edge card computing has evolved to incorporate the latest PCI Express interface methodology and implementation standards in the SHB Express or PICMG 1.3 industry standard.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Leaders of PICMG say that their standards continue to grow in adoption across the globe, with COM Express making huge inroads in Asia and Internet of Things (IoT) markets while CompactPCI Serial grows in acceptance in Europe.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Last year ended with the loss of Joe Pavlat, who successfully led this organization for over 20 years. He worked with members to establish PICMG as a global leader in open standards for embedded computing. We are grateful for his service and will continue to build and improve the organization he helped found.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

PICMG is a nonprofit consortium of companies and organizations that collaboratively develop open standards for high-performance telecommunications, military, industrial, and general-purpose embedded computing applications.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Summer ended with sad news for our OpenSystems Media family when we learned that our friend and coworker, Joe Pavlat, Editorial Director of PICMG Technologies magazine, passed away suddenly at his home in Grass Valley, California. He was only 63 years old.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Funding requested for Department of Defense (DoD) Major Defense Acquisition Programs (MDAPs) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 totals $94.9 billion, more than $17 billion dollars over the FY 2017 request, making up 46 percent of the Trump administration's $208.6 billion FY 2018 acquisition budget request.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Thanks to its proven reliability, cost-effectiveness and size, weight, and power (SWaP) optimization, commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) equipment is becoming increasingly attractive to system designers for use in space applications. As COTS equipment extends into mission-critical functions, the risks to the COTS electronics posed by space radiation need to be understood and mitigated.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

As the Industrial Internet demands more out of resource-constrained industrial data acquisition systems, sensor processing platforms are required to add performance while reducing size, weight, and power (SWaP). Rubin Dhillon, Marketing Director of the Embedded Systems division at GE Intelligent Platforms discusses his company’s approach to developing “brilliant machines,” and how off-the-shelf hardware is enabling these sensor platforms for the Industrial Internet.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Simulation tests of aerodynamics are conducted to improve the physical designs of a variety of products so as to enhance overall safety, comfort, and performance. The larger the object being tested, the more complicated the test will be. Test and measurement solutions based on PXI Express (PXIe) architecture can help to simplify and speed up system installation.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

As the type and number of military and national security threats increase, so does the sophistication and capabilities of Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) systems needed to address those threats. The problem, however, is that developing and operating advanced ISR systems is costly, and in many cases a user does not have the time, resources, acquisition processes, or technological maturity to make an ISR procurement practical.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Modern radar and electronic warfare designs rely heavily on embedded computing systems that leverage high-speed commercial processors and FPGAs to find every target or signal and enable the warfighter to respond in real time. Meanwhile, signal processing system designers are cutting costs by using parallel compute platforms such as OpenCL that work across multiple chip platforms.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Many small form factors, including PC/104 and COM Express, are currently used to build SFF systems, though the industry is working to expand the catalog of SFF standards. However, existing form factors meet the needs of rugged SFF system applications and may be preferable over new, unestablished form factors.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

In this significant year for small form factors, the Small Form Factor Special Interest Group (SFF-SIG) thanks Paul Rosenfeld for three and a half years of leadership, during which time four specifications were developed, published, and promoted by several working groups.

As we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the PC/104 specification as a managed open standard, it is our duty to honor the contributions and efforts of its principal founder, Mr. Rick Lehrbaum. There isn’t a better way to honor him than to celebrate the sustained momentum of the PC/104 ISA bus, as well as the growth of a complementary new expansion interface: SUMIT.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Modern radar and electronic warfare (EW) systems rely on sophisticated signal processing and complex radio-frequency (RF) modulation on pulse. Without proper signal design verification, these techniques may not be effective during critical engagements, which could be catastrophic for the operator. Determining the radar's ability to successfully detect and track targets or an EW system's ability to identify threats and avoid detection or tracking can be challenging. Advanced RF signal analysis and RF pulsed signal capture techniques (variable segment length, de-interleaving, duplex IF real-time analysis) that enable designers to measure signal parameters and confirm the proper operation of their radar or EW systems.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Electronic warfare (EW), the use of the electromagnetic spectrum to foil enemy forces and protect friendly ones, is perhaps the most time-sensitive of all the weapons in the military arsenal: a matter of nanoseconds could make the difference between life and death. That's why latency is so critical to EW processing systems. If a radar-guided missile is heading for your aircraft at Mach 5, the aircraft's radar jammer had better be quick - quick to take in the signal, manipulate it, and retransmit it to fool the adversary with false targets or misleading data on size, distance, heading, speed. Digital RF memories (DRFMs), the specialized RF jammers that do just that, require receive-response latencies of 20 to 100 nanoseconds. Compared to radars - which transmit pulses and receive echoes - DRFMs - which receive pulses and retransmit the signals modulated with jamming techniques - have much more stringent latency requirements.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

High performance embedded computing (HPEC) system designers tasked with architecting large-scale supercomputer-class processing systems for radar, signal intelligence (SIGINT), and electronic warfare (EW) applications depend greatly on the software development tools available to them. The choice of development tools - such as debuggers, profilers, and cluster managers - can result in an intimate relationship; often the choice means the success or failure of the system design.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Advancements in processor technology mean that engineers and designers are able to meet the demand of signal-processing requirements in applications ranging from radar and software-defined radios to high-performance embedded computing (HPEC), and space systems. Designing for exacting high- bandwidth as well as size, weight, and power (SWaP) requirements are no longer a major challenge, but now are simply a checkbox in the design process. Even so, challenges remain, but designers are finding ways to face those issues by using fiber-optic technology, multicore processors, commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) components, and codesign methodologies.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Here's the problem: Your unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) is flying through densely populated geography when one of its signal intelligence (SIGINT) systems' radio-frequency (RF) channels detects an emitter signal of interest on a specific frequency, indicating a potential target. It's not enough to know there's a potential threat out there somewhere. You need to know the threat's exact location, and you need to know it in near-real-time. The challenge is that to geolocate a particular emitter, the SIGINT system needs to reassign three or four of its other RF channels, so they can - along with the original channel - perform the interferometry, using TDOA [Time Difference of Arrival] localization techniques, that's needed to zero in on the potential target.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

In all areas of business, increased communication leads to more streamlined processes and greater potential for success. This is no less true in system design. Within large design organizations, baseband field programmable gate array (FPGA) and radio frequency (RF) signal processing communities have traditionally been separated both physically and by the resources available to them--with each group using very different techniques and tools. Today, however, many RF functions are moving into the algorithmic world and this is making communication between the two areas more crucial than ever.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Wider frequency communication bands require not only a larger observed bandwidth from a system analog-to-digital converter (ADC), but can also push the need for a higher full-power bandwidth. In some applications, such as electronic warfare (EW) and active phased-array radar, this can require the use of a higher order Nyquist rate band. Next-generation gigasamples per second (GSPS) ADCs allow GHz sampling well into the 3rd and 4th Nyquist band with decimation options to get the dynamic range benefits of oversampling. If an ADC's input bandwidth is high enough, it is possible to downconvert directly in the ADC by undersampling the infrared (IF) signal of interest. Higher-bandwidth input signals and sample rates enable direct RF sampling of wider band signals and possible reduction of an entire stage in a signal chain for lower system power and simplicity.

ADC undersampling is essentially the technique of using a sampling frequency that is less than twice the maximum frequency component in the signal. This technique can also be referred to as harmonic sampling, band pass sampling, or super-Nyquist sampling. To reconstruct the original signal perfectly from the sampled version, the Nyquist-Shannon Sampling theorem indicates that the sample rate must be twice the signal bandwidth of interest. This technique should not be mistaken with a sample rate that is twice the maximum IF frequency component. [Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

How does a designer choose a processor for a single-board computer? The answer depends on many factors besides a chip’s number-crunching prowess, including “macro” issues that arise from the outside environment, “micro” issues that are created by the chip itself, and intermediate issues relating to the board, box, and subsystem in which the device will function. Designers have to balance these factors and the interplay between them to select the best fit.

At the highest level the designer considers the likely physical and security challenges to the circuit. For example, can the chip be soldered to the host board to resist vibration and acceleration forces? Can it reject tampering and malware attacks? At the next level the designer considers factors such as the host board’s function, power budget, and size constraints. Will the board require graphics capability and can that capability be integrated into the processing chip? In some cases a chip’s versatility may trump its raw throughput. At the micro level the designer will consider factors such as throughput, power consumption, heat dissipation, and size. [Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Whether for noise removal or feature abstraction, selecting correctly between a linear or nonlinear filter for image processing applications could be the difference between "getting the picture."[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

To solve tough problems like synthetic aperture radar, sensor fusion, and target recognition processing, the military wants and needs performance. That requirement means getting the fastest throughput in the smallest package with the lowest power penalty. The hunger for performance is even more true for autonomous platforms - from aircraft to ground vehicles - that require high-bandwidth processing to "think" for themselves and act on their own, as well as to perform basic sensor and mission processing, self-protection, and communications and navigation functions.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Inertial and magnetic sensors are becoming quite pervasive. When driving our cars or as simple pedestrians, most of us would have a hard time finding our way around without the navigation applications they support. Our smartphones rely on electronic co...[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Network performance can be an issue for VxWorks, especially in demanding applications like signal/image/radar processing. However, designers can get full-speed 40 Gbps Ethernet out of VxWorks.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Embedded computing designers continue to look at ways to cost-effectively integrate FPGAs into their PC/104 and other small form factor designs while battling the time-consuming and difficult task of programming the devices.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Today, GPU options have expanded to include Intel’s Core i7 products, whose built-in GPU functionality and AVX math library support continues to grow. On the FPGA front, we’re starting to see devices with built-in ARM cores, while discrete GPU devices are delivering expanded functionality as well.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

High-definition (HD) digital electro-optic and infrared sensors are shoveling evermore data into the battle space. How can soldiers get that information quickly enough to act on it in a timely manner?[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Designers of high performance embedded computing (HPEC) systems for the military and aerospace market have some options when choosing the primary processor for signal- and image-processing applications. Designers can cast field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) or graphics processing units (GPUs) in the starring role.

In the past the military was wedded to FPGAs mostly because there was no middle ground between FPGAs and cost-prohibitive application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs). Program managers thought nothing of building a complete electronic warfare (EW) system with FPGAs. [Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

GTC – the Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) Technology Conference – used to be the preserve of the video gaming mavens, but as General Purpose GPU (GPGPU) computing has taken off in the wider world, attendees now hail from a far wider background. Lately these non-gamer aficionados have become even more excited. What’s going on?

The answer is NVIDIA’s new Tegra K1 System-on-Chip (SoC). This “superchip” combines a quad-core Central Processing Unit (CPU) with 192 parallel processing GPU cores. Intended for mobile devices such as gaming units, cell phones, and tablet computers, the Tegra scored an amazing 60 frames per second in the GFXBench at 1920x1080 resolution. But the new SoC’s most compelling feature is that it can achieve this performance while consuming less than 10 watts of power.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

In this interview with engineers in the Machine Beam Controls Group at DESY, Holger Schlarb and Michael Fenner discuss the data acquisition requirements of the accelerator community, as well as how a tradition of using COTS signal processing solutions continues to improve uptime and maximize performance for some of the most complex machines on Earth.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

VITA and PICMG are the open standards bodies that define the specifications underpinning embedded form factors such as VPX and CompactPCI. Both groups continue to provide a vital service to commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) component manufacturers and customers alike, enabling engineers to spend less time worrying about interoperability between subsystem components and more time working on application development.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Embedded Tech Trends 2014, the business and technology forum for critical and intelligent embedded systems, just wrapped up in Phoenix. This year 19 sponsor companies and 13 editors and industry analysts gathered for an intensive two days of technology presentations and meetings. Twenty-five presentations were delivered in a very fast paced format that kept everyone on their toes. Each morning session of presentations was followed by a hectic afternoon of one-on-one sponsor/media meetings.

The purpose of the event is to bring media and industry thought leaders together to exchange ideas and to network among peers. It is good old fashioned face-to-face networking that is not possible with even the best of online social media networks. Nothing beats spending a few days with such a collection of industry colleagues. I left the event filled with new ideas and industry connections.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Getting to 100G with NPUs

Niel Viljoen, CEO, Netronome Systems[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

A couple days ago, someone asked me if Embedded Computing Design was all about mobile phones now. I’ll say that’s not quite true, but it is symptomatic. My job is to spot trends, and I’m pretty sure that “phonemance” (think “bromance,” only the object of affection is your phone, not your best buddy) has implications much larger for the embedded computing industry than any phone.

Have you heard or said this recently: “This phone is my life”? It’s even a hook in phone advertisements, with messages urging you to bring everything in your life together in one place and promising the ability to do anything, anywhere, even multiple things at the same time. What needs to be recognized is that this notion is driving our industry, for better or worse, and it’s a good idea to get your arms around it if you haven’t already.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Reflections on the success and evolution of 6U CompactPCI [Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

This article discusses the evolution of CompactPCI and how it is more than just an extension to PCI. [Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

This article discusses different components of the platform, how it works, and key points regarding its purpose. [Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

David argues that an embedded open-architecture audio processor can hit the below 1 mW active power consumption mark.Typical audio transceivers now involve more sophisticated solutions, and demand for audio processors has never been higher. This stems partly from the popularity of convenient communication devices, such as mobile phones or even laptop computers using VoIP, and from the demand for clear communication free of echo and noise in all environments. Such communication quality is only possible thanks to the implementation of increasingly complex DSP algorithms that can improve audio performance under increasingly diverse and challenging conditions.

At the same time, design engineers have less freedom when it comes it to the amount of available system power and board space. As a result, the need to implement more complex digital audio processing solutions that consume less power and require less physical space is driving the development of audio processing techniques in general and embedded DSP-based solutions in particular. [Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Though they offer significant advantages compared to spectrum-analyzer-based methods, traditionally, vector network analyzers have not been used to characterize the group delay of analog satellite transponders, due to the lack of access to the RF signals or the time bases of the internal Local Oscillators (LOs) within the transponder. A new way to make group delay measurements of embedded-LO converters with modern VNAs will yield increased measurement speeds and significant accuracy improvements.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

The next-generation network is the evolution, and bringing together, of a number of technologies. Successfully bridging the old circuit switched networks and the new packet infrastructure is a fundamental necessity. The new network has constructed a ...[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Voice over IP (VolP) has become a primary focus of attention because it lies at the heart of the trend toward the convergence of data and voice communications. This new technology offers great promise in the more efficient use of scarce bandwidth for ...[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

OpenVPX

 
 

Intel's new Xeon D system-on-chip (SoC) is making large numbers of x86 processing cores readily available for embedded defense applications. With an architecture designed to support math-intensive processing and very-high-bandwidth data transfers, the Xeon D enables advanced cognitive electronic warfare (EW) applications to operate in small size, weight, and power (SWaP)-constrained platforms.

Unlike conventional radar systems, new software-defined digitally programmable radars are able to generate previously unencountered waveforms that do not match known waveforms and pulse trains already on an EW system’s pulse descriptor word (PDW) list. The PDW typically contains all the collected data for a specific pulse, including time of arrival (TOA); angle; pulse width, power, and frequency (superhet); or frequency band. In order to defeat never-before-seen waveforms, system designers are developing a new generation of cognitive EW systems that are able to quickly adapt to changes in the radio frequency (RF) environment and almost instantly make decisions about how to respond to unfamiliar threats. [Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Several design approaches exist for implementing beamforming processing tasks, with options ranging from GPUs to multicore CPUs, DSPs, and FPGAs. The unique strengths of FPGAs make them an increasingly appealing choice for beamforming when compared to their counterparts.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

VITA and PICMG are the open standards bodies that define the specifications underpinning embedded form factors such as VPX and CompactPCI. Both groups continue to provide a vital service to commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) component manufacturers and customers alike, enabling engineers to spend less time worrying about interoperability between subsystem components and more time working on application development.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Over the past several years, the Obama administration has indicated it would be changing focus from the Middle East and rebalance, or pivot, toward the Pacific. This "Pacific Pivot" regional strategy will require new roles and missions in "more contested" environments, which means that airborne intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) platforms will be required to operate differently than they have before.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Electronic Warfare (EW) system designers are taking advantage of the performance leaps in commercial technology, driven by high-volume commercial markets such as telecommunications and cloud computing. These components such as FPGAs combine speed, high connectivity, and low power consumption for signal-processing intensive EW platforms such as fighter aircraft and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

The Electronic Warfare (EW) market is increasingly diversified across almost every area of defense spending. Despite budget restraints, the market expects growth in the EW domain driven by the trend of EW systems to form a larger part of military activity. New technology offers engineers of EW or Electro-Optical/Infrared (EO/IR) systems the possibility to use remote high performance sensor modules using Gigabit/10 Gigabit serial interfaces to transmit their data sample flows. To manage and process this huge amount of data, engineers must define new, innovative, and open system architectures.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Modern radar and electronic warfare designs rely heavily on embedded computing systems that leverage high-speed commercial processors and FPGAs to find every target or signal and enable the warfighter to respond in real time. Meanwhile, signal processing system designers are cutting costs by using parallel compute platforms such as OpenCL that work across multiple chip platforms.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

High density power electronics with high efficiencies – typically more than 90 percent – are becoming the defacto requirement for high-end mission critical military platforms such as radar, fighter jets, UAVs, and weapon systems where size, weight, and power are limited. Meanwhile, Gallium Nitride based RF components are beginning to populate military RF applications.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Military systems are noted for their high processing demands, a situation that is particularly true for graphics processing. Like their commercial counterparts, military displays are becoming faster, higher-resolution, and more complex. Both defense surveillance and commercial video-game applications, for example, share a need for the maximum possible raw graphics computational horsepower.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Sensor platforms are proliferating around the edges of the network in both the civilian and the military spheres. For examples, think of the remote devices on buses, trucks, and oil rigs that are monitored via the Internet of Things (IoT) or the unmanned surveillance nodes in the network-centered warfare infrastructure. To be effective, these "edge" devices need to be as self-sufficient as possible, not just in processing capability but also in energy use.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

The payloads of military unmanned aircraft systems (UASs) continue to evolve - using smarter sensors and a smaller overall footprint - but must overcome size, weight, and power (SWaP) design hurdles, as well as slower-than-desirable sensor processing, lack of bandwidth in downlinks, and security challenges.

As military UASs continue to evolve and shrink in size – think swarms of tiny drones – their resulting payload footprints pose numerous tight SWaP design space constraints and tradeoffs, together with sensor processing, datalink bandwidth, and security issues as well.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Designers of signal-processing systems for electronic warfare (EW) applications faced with requirements for reduced size, weight, and power (SWaP) along with more processing power are creating multifunction systems that leverage high-speed field-programmable gate array (FPGA) technology.

Electronic warfare, for decades, has been a kingdom rife with customized systems and stovepipe technology based on closed architectures. As enemy threats become more sophisticated, EW designers face pressure to create systems that can adapt and respond effectively in real time. Their efforts are resulting in multifunction systems that marry different types of EW, such as signals intelligence (SIGINT) and electronic intelligence (ELINT), as well as EW and radar functions in one box.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Sensor platforms are proliferating around the edges of the network in both the civilian and the military spheres. For examples, think of the remote devices on buses, trucks, and oil rigs that are monitored via the Internet of Things or the unmanned surveillance nodes in the network-centered warfare infrastructure. To be effective, these "edge" devices need to be as self-sufficient as possible, not just in processing capability but also in energy use.

Size, weight, and power (SWaP) has long been the mantra for embedded electronics. Every military platform, from the humblest handheld device or miniature unmanned vehicle to the largest weapon system must face these constraints at some level. For battery-dependent devices, energy efficiency is a more urgent concern. The smaller the platform, the bigger the bite from power-hungry computers.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Like the rest of the world, the oceans and the vast spaces beneath them are growing more dangerous. International adversaries are projecting power more aggressively with fighting ships and submarines. Smaller, quieter vessels are being employed, and reverberation-rich littoral waters are now key to protecting shorelines. Sonars and sonar processing need to keep up with the threat.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Dramatic increases in sensor resolution in remote-sensing space payloads are causing a processing bottleneck, as downlink bandwidth is not keeping pace. Operators require onboard processing so that satellites send processed information, not just raw data. It is a growing challenge for the roughly 100 remote sensing satellites launched each year, each carrying as many as eight payload instruments. Flash-based field-programmable gate array (FPGA) technology is now being applied to the problem, combining high-speed signal processing with special built-in radiation mitigation techniques to keep systems operational in harsh radiation environments.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Aerospace and defense applications must support higher-bandwidth sensor input, more complex intersystem communications, and greater security for certain operations and related custom algorithms, all while contending with budget and schedule pressures. In addition to these broad challenges, application areas such as mission computing face the added difficulty of designing systems that meet restrictive size, weight, and power (SWaP) constraints. Increasing function density within a current space envelope is a common way of addressing these challenges.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Simulation tests of aerodynamics are conducted to improve the physical designs of a variety of products so as to enhance overall safety, comfort, and performance. The larger the object being tested, the more complicated the test will be. Test and measurement solutions based on PXI Express (PXIe) architecture can help to simplify and speed up system installation.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Modern radar and electronic warfare designs rely heavily on embedded computing systems that leverage high-speed commercial processors and FPGAs to find every target or signal and enable the warfighter to respond in real time. Meanwhile, signal processing system designers are cutting costs by using parallel compute platforms such as OpenCL that work across multiple chip platforms.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Often there are some advantages in using frequency domain techniques, as opposed to using strictly time domain techniques, to analyze signals obtained in data acquisition. The merits and possible issues of using a particular frequency-based transform methodology along with subsequent graphical analyses are discussed. Appropriate choices for analyzing signals in the frequency domain can often improve the overall system during the concept, development, and/or testing phase of many data acquisition systems.Frequency domain analysis plays an important role in the design and testing of many militarized systems, including wireless communications, remote sensing, radar processing, audio processing (such as speech recognition/authentication, watermarking, and compression/VoIP), and more. The development process of an embedded computing military application often requires sampling real-world physical systems through a data acquisition process that results in a digital representation of those signals.

Although the data representing these signals is most often sampled in the time domain, many applications engineers find it easier – and more conceptually clear – to work with the data in the frequency domain. This is because of the many engineering relationships governing information, which are typically described in the frequency domain. A thorough frequency analysis of the data being acquired and processed can facilitate the retrieval of subtle information contained within the signal and provide valuable insight into the real-world environment that will be encountered. Often that subtle information includes signal artifacts with very low Signal-to-Noise Ratios (SNRs), which might be missed in analyzing the data exclusively from the time domain.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Vendors producing off-the-shelf FPGA wares face the issue of offering the greatest flexibility with the fewest design iterations. Accordingly, VITA 57 (FPGA Mezzanine Card or FMC) is bridging FPGA I/O capability and the external world.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

This article discusses how using LabVIEW Real-Time, they were able to develop code to control the four outputs and a LabVIEW application for a Windows 2000 system that displays and logs all 100 analog input channels of data at 1000 samples per second a...[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

In this interview with engineers in the Machine Beam Controls Group at DESY, Holger Schlarb and Michael Fenner discuss the data acquisition requirements of the accelerator community, as well as how a tradition of using COTS signal processing solutions continues to improve uptime and maximize performance for some of the most complex machines on Earth.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

There is a lot of talk about software revolutionizing the automotive industry and the conversation is growing because of how software management will impact the whole business of recalls. The outrageous amount of good money going after bad is the reason why car manufacturers and Tier 1 suppliers are looking for an optimized and alternative way to reduce the amount of time it takes to deliver a software update, reducing the cost associated with recalls and improving customer satisfaction. If the same method for performing automotive software updates in production, at the dealer, or at home continue, so will the inefficiencies that are causing car manufacturers to pay hundreds of millions of dollars every year.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

With military budgets under fire and program schedules increasingly pinched, design managers are focusing more than ever on cost. Gone are the days of gold-plated programs entailing high risk of cost overruns and schedule breaches. Suppliers are on the hot seat to deliver systems within tight cost and time constraints.

The situation is particularly challenging on the hardware side: The commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) revolution that kicked off in 1994 has increased performance and reduced costs despite the need to mitigate the obsolescence risks associated with dependence on the consumer electronics market. Yet the cost of developing software continues to rise. This reality means that, in order for customers to focus resources on adding value to their applications, the highly commoditized hardware side must bear the brunt of a new wave of retrenchment.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Video – in common with other sensor-derived data – plays an increasing role in today’s military. Its proliferation at all levels of command reflects a deep hunger on the part of decision makers for remotely collected imagery that helps them see threats and, if necessary, deploy soldiers and weapons. This data is all the more important in maximizing the effectiveness and minimizing the vulnerability of forces as troop levels decrease in theaters of war and, in the future, as the overall footprint changes. As such, the demand for image processing solutions is widely expected to increase.

This market development is all the more likely as potential uses for video multiply in number and expand in scope. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), for example, already uses captured video to monitor wildfires and hurricanes. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) uses it for border surveillance. And local jurisdictions want to use vehicle-captured video in law enforcement and public safety roles. [Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

While mobile device display performance continues to increase, system chip processes geometries continue to shrink, resulting in a greater proportion of system power consumed by the display and its high-speed interface. The new Embedded DisplayPort (eDP) v1.4 standard offers several new features that maximize system power efficiency, further consolidate the display interface, and address a wide range of system profiles to satisfy the growing demand for power optimization in the embedded display system.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Modern ASICs and FPGAs are tedious and time-consuming to verify and validate. Adding small, highly efficient on-chip capture infrastructure to the design makes this job much easier by providing 10x the visibility of instrumentation points for a given area. In addition, by using compression algorithms, logic analysis capture stations can capture data for 10x or more capture depth.ASICs and FPGAs have become massively complex, particularly for System-on-Chip (SoC) designs involving multiple cores. With this complexity comes longer and more tedious debug and validation cycles. Unfortunately, when something fails or goes wrong, gaining access to test points in highly integrated designs is next to impossible. Unless you want to spend weeks shooting in the dark at random errors while running through multiple prototypes, on-chip instrumentation is no longer optional; it’s a critical must-have. Figure 1 shows an overview of the debug process using on-chip instrumentation.

Figure 1: The instrumentation and debug cycle is critical to detect errors in FPGA prototypes.(Click graphic to zoom by 1.9x)While there are a number of ways to add instrumentation to FPGAs, a distributed approach using an instrument network is emerging as the preferred method, as it maximizes the number of potential observation points while minimizing silicon area or look-up table utilization requirements. Also critical to efficient debug is deep trace capture to see how the various parts of a system interact over time. Finally, designers must be able to observe the interactions of multiple devices and clock domains, both on- and off-chip, all fully time correlated for a true system-level perspective.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Multispectral electro-optical sensing plays a pivotal role in the detection of threats and movements of insurgents, terrorists, and other destabilizing forces operating with limited technology capability. Video is gathered from surveillance platforms, such as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), helicopters, or ground vehicles, which must then be analyzed and disseminated throughout the battlefield command structure as quickly as possible. Ethernet is the medium of choice for streaming video, but with its potentially limited bandwidth, real-time video compression is essential for the new breed of high-definition sensors or where many channels of video are to be carried.

Communications Surveillance platforms carry diverse types of sensor such as HDTV, regular TV, infrared, low light, and custom. Payloads also vary as each sensor platform does not have the space, endurance, electrical power, or cooling to support all sensors concurrently. Whichever kind of platform is deployed, wireless data links convey images to where they are needed for each specific mission. Typically, mobile sensor platforms will use either SATCOMs or digital data links to stream video. SATCOM is most often supported by large air and ground vehicles, whereas smaller platforms rely on air-to-ground digital radio channels with limited bandwidth.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are vital elements in the gathering of Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) data. UAVs carry a payload of electro-optical sensors plus lasers, radar, or signals intelligence. These sensors generate masses of data that are transmitted securely to the ground over limited-capacity data links. Assistance is needed on the ground to identify and classify targets so that the UAV can direct its sensors and alter its flight profile to track targets of interest. UAVs are in constant use and continuously evolving to detect and counter new threats. Operators and integrators are urgently seeking greater, proven capability, which is being provided by COTS products and related enabling technologies.

UAV requirements A surveillance UAV is essentially an unmanned sensor platform with well developed autonomous flight control allowing it to take off, follow flight plans, avoid obstacles, and land, but with limited mission autonomy. Size, Weight, and Power (SWaP) parameters can be so critical that COTS embedded computing standards might not be prime choice for the payload/sensor processing chain. However, because of the rapid design cycles needed to maintain tactical superiority, the infusion of proven and deployable enabling technologies – specifically COTS based – has become an essential development practice.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

By treating connectivity as a system, aerospace designers can evaluate various tradeoffs – copper versus fiber, types of shielding, cable construction, and the like – to meet requirements for both signal integrity and the environmental and mechanical needs of the application.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

New technology offers engineers of Software Defined Radio (SDR) systems diverse opportunities to apply digital signal processing much closer to the antenna than ever before. Various strategies include the latest wideband data converters, monolithic receiver chips, compact RF tuners, and remote receiver modules using gigabit serial interfaces. Each approach presents benefits and tradeoffs that must be considered in choosing the optimal solution for a given application.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

SDR receiver manufacturers' custom and proprietary digitized data formats can make interoperability quite a challenge. However, now the VITA 49 Radio Transport (VRT) standard is aiming to solve the problem.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Countering the growing "backdoor" threat posed by terrorists, smugglers, pirates, and political activists at military air and naval bases, airports, and ports requires sophisticated multisensor surveillance systems to ensure that incursions are rapidly detected and actioned. A hybrid approach that brings together conventional radar systems with high-resolution video imaging sensors, radar, and video trackers - incorporating Automatic Dependent Surveillance - Broadcast (ADS-B) and Automatic Identification System (AIS) transponder technology to filter out authorized targets - can deliver the high-accuracy threat detection needed even in adverse climatic conditions and poor visibility.

A typical secured site presents multiple challenges to the deployment of an effective surveillance and security system. The layout of the site may mean that certain locations are hidden from the view of a given sensor, resulting in a security vulnerability unless steps are taken to improve coverage. Differentiation between real threats and legitimate movements, both outside and within the site, is essential to avoid real incursions becoming “lost in the noise.” Moreover, these threats may take multiple forms – unauthorized individuals/insurgents, vehicles or vessels, or airborne objects including small malicious drones may all represent real incursions; a surveillance system needs to provide early detection of all anticipated threat types.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

The possibilities of display technologies in military applications; the software and networking that keeps it all together. “What is possible” in technology seems to start in the imaginations of screenwriters and science fiction stories, and then moves sooner or later into reality. We’ve all watched movies such as Elysium or Minority Report and have seen the transparent computer screens and video walls with information being moved and tossed by swipe touch gestures. As consumers, we become aware of the newest technologies as they relate to making our lives easier or increasing our level of entertainment satisfaction, such as 4K televisions, heads-up displays (HUD) in our cars, and gaming platforms such as Xbox Kinect air-gesture technology.

Sometimes the trickle-down effect starts in the highest levels of military operation, such as the HUD in military aircraft. However, sometimes technology advances first mature in either the industrial or retail markets, achieving technological cost efficiencies before making their way into military operations. [Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

The graphics display support built directly into the latest generations of Intel Core i7 processors is now more than sufficient for providing video processing for many types of low- to mid-end deployed military applications. The use of a Single-Board Computer (SBC) that features an “Ivy Bridge,” “Sandy Bridge,” or “Haswell” class of Intel processor can often eliminate the need for an additional embedded card such as a dedicated 3U VPX or XMC graphics display module. However, there are a number of cases in which an integrated Intel graphics approach won’t be able to meet the requirements of a particular military system, either because of performance, lack of support for specific hardware interface types, or the lack of software drivers for supporting OpenGL in real-time operating environments and safety certification.

At the low- to mid-end of video-display applications, the graphics processing capability of the newest Intel processors is typically satisfactory. For example, if the graphics processor will be used to drive a mission computer type of Human Machine Interface (HMI) to an HD touchscreen video display, the integrated Intel GPU will be able to handle the job. On the other hand, if the application places great demands on system memory and has critical performance requirements, the integrated GPU might not be sufficient because of the shared-memory model used by the Intel processors. Applications that require intensive processing and near-real-time display of complex images, such as digital mapping systems, need to be closely analyzed to ensure that the use of integrated graphics will suffice.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Embedded Tech Trends 2014, the business and technology forum for critical and intelligent embedded systems, just wrapped up in Phoenix. This year 19 sponsor companies and 13 editors and industry analysts gathered for an intensive two days of technology presentations and meetings. Twenty-five presentations were delivered in a very fast paced format that kept everyone on their toes. Each morning session of presentations was followed by a hectic afternoon of one-on-one sponsor/media meetings.

The purpose of the event is to bring media and industry thought leaders together to exchange ideas and to network among peers. It is good old fashioned face-to-face networking that is not possible with even the best of online social media networks. Nothing beats spending a few days with such a collection of industry colleagues. I left the event filled with new ideas and industry connections.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Improved power-to-performance ratios with multicore processors in VPX systems are boosting viability and reducing reliance on the high costs of FPGA development. Since they fundamentally change the way signal processing is implemented, parallel-rate microprocessors do away with hand-coding threads and math algorithms and more efficiently bring together powerful computing platforms that can take full advantage of state-of-the-art processor features. (Lead image: U.S. Army Spc. Nathan Williams from the 263rd Army Air Missile Defense Command deploys a Sentinel radar system. Radar systems like Sentinel depend on high-performance signal processing systems. DoD photo by Staff Sgt. Jacob N. Bailey, U.S. Air Force.)[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

The Naval Tactical Data System (NTDS), first developed in the 1960s, is still widely used in naval platforms worldwide and has a large installed base, but is in decline as new systems are not using the technology. In this Q&A with Michael Carter, CEO and President of Sabtech, a leading designer of NTDS products, he tells Military Embedded Systems about where NTDS technology is today, managing its obsolescence issues, and how reduced Size, Weight, and Power (SWaP) requirements are affecting system designs. Edited excerpts follow.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

The original VMEbus specification was tightly coupled to the Motorola 68000 bus architecture; since then, the open architectures defined by the various VITA standards are no longer restricted to any specific processor technology. This feature takes a look at the status of the current choice of processors.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Cost pressures and consumer handheld technology increasingly drive rugged wearable computer designs for warfighter applications. Meanwhile, new ISR requirements for full motion video are pushing rugged display designers to innovate image enhancement technology.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Intel's new Xeon D system-on-chip (SoC) is making large numbers of x86 processing cores readily available for embedded defense applications. With an architecture designed to support math-intensive processing and very-high-bandwidth data transfers, the Xeon D enables advanced cognitive electronic warfare (EW) applications to operate in small size, weight, and power (SWaP)-constrained platforms.

Unlike conventional radar systems, new software-defined digitally programmable radars are able to generate previously unencountered waveforms that do not match known waveforms and pulse trains already on an EW system’s pulse descriptor word (PDW) list. The PDW typically contains all the collected data for a specific pulse, including time of arrival (TOA); angle; pulse width, power, and frequency (superhet); or frequency band. In order to defeat never-before-seen waveforms, system designers are developing a new generation of cognitive EW systems that are able to quickly adapt to changes in the radio frequency (RF) environment and almost instantly make decisions about how to respond to unfamiliar threats. [Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Aerospace and defense applications must support higher-bandwidth sensor input, more complex intersystem communications, and greater security for certain operations and related custom algorithms, all while contending with budget and schedule pressures. In addition to these broad challenges, application areas such as mission computing face the added difficulty of designing systems that meet restrictive size, weight, and power (SWaP) constraints. Increasing function density within a current space envelope is a common way of addressing these challenges.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

VITA and PICMG are the open standards bodies that define the specifications underpinning embedded form factors such as VPX and CompactPCI. Both groups continue to provide a vital service to commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) component manufacturers and customers alike, enabling engineers to spend less time worrying about interoperability between subsystem components and more time working on application development.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

In the not too distant past, computers and RF were not to be in the same room, let alone the same piece of computing equipment. Then over the years the two became friendlier as microprocessors were used to control radios and eventually led to the creation of soft radios and today’s highly popular smart phone.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

GTC – the Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) Technology Conference – used to be the preserve of the video gaming mavens, but as General Purpose GPU (GPGPU) computing has taken off in the wider world, attendees now hail from a far wider background. Lately these non-gamer aficionados have become even more excited. What’s going on?

The answer is NVIDIA’s new Tegra K1 System-on-Chip (SoC). This “superchip” combines a quad-core Central Processing Unit (CPU) with 192 parallel processing GPU cores. Intended for mobile devices such as gaming units, cell phones, and tablet computers, the Tegra scored an amazing 60 frames per second in the GFXBench at 1920x1080 resolution. But the new SoC’s most compelling feature is that it can achieve this performance while consuming less than 10 watts of power.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

As the sophistication and capabilities of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) continue to evolve, engineers need to pay greater attention to end-to-end connectivity to avoid performance bottlenecks.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

Several technology trends are driving advances in Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) payloads on Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) – higher compute capacity, the growing use of VPX, and locating the processor closer to the sensor.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 

The Electronic Warfare (EW) market is increasingly diversified across almost every area of defense spending. Despite budget restraints, the market expects growth in the EW domain driven by the trend of EW systems to form a larger part of military activity. New technology offers engineers of EW or Electro-Optical/Infrared (EO/IR) systems the possibility to use remote high performance sensor modules using Gigabit/10 Gigabit serial interfaces to transmit their data sample flows. To manage and process this huge amount of data, engineers must define new, innovative, and open system architectures.[Continue reading →]

In a New Tab/Window

 Expand All