Military and aerospace contractors need solutions that can withstand harsh environmental conditions such as heat or cold, humidity, altitude, shock, and vibration. Many of their solutions must be able to fit into space-constrained platforms. They also depend on fast time-to-market, low risk, flexibility to make changes, and long product life-cycle.
Size, weight, and power must be kept to a minimum while still being able to execute sophisticated processing algorithms in real time. Solutions must be adaptable to a broad array of computational requirements and scalable for future expansion. Many need flexible solutions that are capable of conforming to their many data processing requirements.
BittWare offers a variety of products specifically designed for its military aerospace customers – conduction-cooled, rugged and COTS compliant solutions to help them deliver reliable tools that can withstand extreme conditions. For mission critical systems, leading MAG contractors count on BittWare.
Military applications are requiring smaller and smaller form-factors in order to fit into space-constrained areas. The challenge then becomes one of satisfying the processing requirements of a particular application, while also providing a light-weight, small form-factor solution. This is where BittWare’s expertise in signal processing design shows itself. By providing a solution that incorporates various processing solutions, the number of total processing units per board decreases, enabling a small form factor to be used.
BittWare’s customer had been tasked with designing a light-weight radar system which would be used on unmanned and manned vehicles. This new radar system would provide unprecedented situational awareness and target coordination, while also satisfying the challenges of high-end floating point processing power, and low power.
The solution was based on a BittWare signal processing board. The on-board FPGA provide all front-end processing, analyzing all incoming data, and only passing along the “desired” data to the on-board processors. FPGAs are more suited to this type of repetitive processing, enabling the on-board processors to do what they are best at – extremely complex data analysis in real-time. The combination of the two created a solution requiring less on-board processing units compared to using only processors, saving space and allowing for a smaller form factor solution. To satisfy the rugged requirements of these types of systems, BittWare designed a solution knowing that a rugged end product was required.
One of BittWare’s long-time customers designs radar imaging systems for the military, among other applications. When they first approached BittWare over a decade ago, they required portability for ground-based radar in the field, but also needed to ensure that their system could provide high-speed data acquisition with the ability to perform highly complex data analysis in real-time, along with the flexibility to use the same design in aircraft and ship imaging. This real-time analysis includes saving all incoming data, applying filters, performing complex algorithmic manipulation, and creating images – all in order to make critical decisions in the battlefield.
BittWare’s COTS hardware was the perfect fit, as it provided the necessary high-end signal processing, but was also available on multiple form-factors, ensuring that the same design could be ported to various applications. BittWare also provided daughter cards for the data conversion.
Throughout the more than decades-long relationship, three generations of BittWare products have been used in these applications.
Many customers begin designing systems using General Purpose Processors (GPPs). This was the case for a military customer of BittWare.
Our customer’s original system design was based on an array of GPP-based computers to run their sophisticated algorithms. However, the physical size of their original design occupied a bay of multiple racks. They needed to port this design to fit within a torpedo. To do so would necessitate using high-end signal processing boards to replace the computers, but also maintain a small footprint for the end system.
BittWare’s solution used both processors and FPGAs on an application-specific 6U VME board – a hybrid design. A high-density Altera Stratix II GX 1508 pin FPGA provided the front-end processing. The FPGA contains two Nios embedded processors running uClinux™ and interfaces to USB 2.0 input data. The FPGA peripherals include a 10/100/1000 Mbit Ethernet controller, two USB 2.0 peripheral ports, one USB 2.0 host port, RS232/422 port, two DDR2 controllers, two SDRAM interfaces, and a flash interface. Two clusters totaling eight processors provide the high-end floating-point processing. BittWare’s FPGA Development Kit provides all data routing on and off the board, as well as between the processors and FPGA. For data storage, eight GBytes of DDR2 SDRAM provides ample space.In the end, the customer’s success was ensured as BittWare met their signal processing requirements within the physical constraints defined by the torpedo.
BittWare’s expertise in delivering turn-key integrated signal processing systems was sought by the DOD for development of a ballistic digitizer used to record and monitor ammunitions testing.
Aside from the challenge of putting together a complete system consisting of over 40 boards, there were board-level requirements that would have to be addressed. The number of channels required per board was not going to be satisfied using any boards currently available on the market, and I/O transition modules would also be required for use with the main signal processing boards.
Working closely with the end-customer, BittWare leveraged an existing board design and modified it so that it satisfied the additional requirements, created a custom I/O transition module to be used with the signal processing board, and delivered a complete integrated system.The final application-specific signal processing system provide by BittWare included over 40 boards.
As airport security has increased over the last decade, the requirements have also evolved. While the typical radar systems used within airports have been focused on air threats, upgraded systems now include scans for ground-based threats. These new systems must key into the existing radar systems, and continually scan certain territories looking for intrusions.
The challenge with this particular application was to provide high-speed analog capture and processing across multiple channels, with built-in channel redundancy to ensure that if one channel is down for any reason, there is another ready to take over. The end-customer also required a complete system.
BittWare’s fully integrated system solution included a turn-key chassis consisting of multiple processors and numerous channels of high speed ADC, and custom designed FPGA loads running on mezzanine cards to save some of the hardware costs necessitated by increased system redundancy.
One of BittWare’s military customers had a project designing computer Network Interface Cards (NIC) used for simulating the network for a next-generation fighter aircraft program. This customer is required to provide a proof-of-concept for the design using all industry-leading programmable logic.
The initial design used early generation FPGA technology. The next-gen version was to be based on latest generation FPGAs but also required an XMC-based solution.
The end design was an Altera Stratix IV GX-based XMC board with SFP+ transceivers, satisfying all requirements for the custom product in a short timeframe.