Military Embedded Systems

Abaco Systems

Articles 1 - 20

Making COTS great again - Story

November 28, 2017
Is it possible to produce commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) embedded computers that come closer to the original concept's promise of faster and more affordable procurements? A COTS version 2.0?

Ethernet switches: Smarter than you think - Story

October 16, 2017
Ethernet switches are so fundamental to our connected world that they sometimes get taken for granted. Attention focuses on splashy end products - like weapons systems and the gee-whiz applications that drive them - rather than on the lower-level components that actually make the applications work.

Image-processing programming: Hope for non-nerds? - Story

September 12, 2017
Today's armored-vehicle and helicopter operators can detect, assess, and act upon threats with the aid of devices such as helmet-mounted displays and heads-up displays. Thanks to image processing, ground-attack vehicle commanders soon will be able to enjoy a 360-degree "window" on their environments, while pilots will obtain true spherical situational awareness around their airplanes.

3U OpenVPX plus 40-gig Ethernet - best of both worlds - Story

August 08, 2017
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.

High-speed Ethernet meets the armored cavalry - Story

June 08, 2017
Tanks make good targets. They are large, heavy, slow, and hard to maneuver. They have to monitor their surroundings night and day to lumber through the terrain and engage or avoid their adversaries, as the situation warrants. In the urban battlefield so common in today's asymmetrical conflicts, these vehicles also need to deal with improvised explosive devices (IEDs), snipers, and suicide bombers and must distinguish between hostile civilians and innocent bystanders.

Electronic warfare and FPGAs: The need for speed - Story

April 12, 2017
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.

Safety-certifiable COTS case - Story

February 24, 2017
In commercial aviation, one of the most safety-conscious industries in existence, hardware and software developers must design and test their products according to rigorous safety standards. The most well-known are DO-254 for computer hardware, such as integrated circuits (ICs) and field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs), and DO-178 for software, such as operating systems and application code.

Software: King of SWaP - Story

January 17, 2017
Size, weight, and power (SWaP) considerations have always been important for embedded electronics but will become even more critical in the future. Driving this trend in embedded system design is the plethora of small platforms, such as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), entering the inventory. Developers of the processing systems that will be deployed on this growing cohort of small, intelligent, sometimes battery-operated platforms at the tactical edge will have to scrutinize hardware and software components to ensure the most efficient use of resources.

FACE conformance program - Story

November 17, 2016
September 2016 marked a major milestone along the long road to avionics software standardization: the last essential component of the system developed by U.S. Navy and Army aviation authorities and their suppliers clicked into place.

Technology insertion: Balancing performance and stability - Story

October 18, 2016
Embedded computing systems have benefited enormously from the flood of innovation in the electronics industry: Military programs over the years have enjoyed ever faster processors, smaller form factors, and steadily declining prices per unit of performance.

Obsolescence insurance - Story

September 13, 2016
In the commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) era, electronics obsolescence is a fact of life. Military demand represents only a tiny fraction of the commercial semiconductor market and the imperatives of the two sectors are worlds apart. The consumer market prizes constant innovation, despite the disruptions this drive entails. The military market, on the other hand, looks for the latest technology at the outset of a project, but requires logistics stability through extended development, production, and fielding cycles. Managing obsolescence issues has never been more important, given today's budgetary austerity.

New game for GUIs - Story

July 14, 2016
Those of us who recall DOS and other command interfaces appreciate the invention of graphical user interfaces (GUIs): Graphical controls and displays make us more efficient and productive because they are intuitive, with little or no learning required. GUIs make life easier, whether one is writing code or playing games.

Graphics processing - having it both ways - Story

June 10, 2016
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.

Next-gen tactical Ethernet switches - Story

April 22, 2016
Ethernet technology is the common denominator for communications between networks and is a foundational building block of IP networks. This lingua franca of the networking world also has evolved to meet the needs of the tactical environment; it is found on tanks, ships, submarines, manned aircraft, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

Avionics FACE lift - Story

March 09, 2016
FACE looks not only at technology but also at issues such as intellectual property, conformance verification, military specs, and procurement requirements.

Designing COTS for data security - Story

January 21, 2016
FPGA technology, for example, can be used to provide a "security hub" around which an antitamper strategy can be built.

Choosing a processor a balancing act - Story

November 26, 2015
Designers consider performance vs. flexibility, as well as thermal management for processors.

Cool power sensation - Story

October 05, 2015
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.

Metadata: When target video data is not enough - Story

September 11, 2015
Metadata adds situational awareness of the pilot sitting thousands of miles away from the target

Sonar processing: Back to basics - Story

July 03, 2015
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.
Articles 1 - 20