Future of high-performance embedded computing looks bright

I wonder who remembers the days when military high-performance embedded computing (HPEC) involved PowerPC microprocessors with Alti-Vec technology, or before that the Intel i860 digital signal processor.

Anyone? (crickets) Anyone at all?

Well, my point is we've come a long way since the i860 and AltiVec, driven by new central processing unit (CPU) technologies like the latest-generation Intel Core i7, field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) from manufacturers like Xilinx, Altera, and Microsemi, and general-purpose graphics processing unit (GPGPU) technologies from NVIDIA and AMD.

I remember long enough ago when one of the fondest computer science goals of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) was to create "a gigaflop in a soup can." Today we're doing that on a chip, we're approaching a teraflop on a chip, and there doesn't seem to be any end in sight.

GPGPU technology-which is a massively parallel processing architecture that lends itself well to floating-point digital signal processing-continues to evolve on a trajectory similar to what we've known as Moore's Law, and GPGPU software programming tools are making this technology broadly available. FPGA devices and software programming tools are improving apace.

DARPA launched the ICECool program, short for Intrachip/Interchip Enhanced Cooling, which promises to fabricate in-device liquid cooling as part of the semiconductor manufacturing process. ICECool, now aimed primarily at embedded computing and RF monolithic microwave integrated circuit (MMIC) power amplifiers, seeks to remove waste heat from electronic components at the rate of one kilowatt per square centimeter heat flux, and one kilowatt per cubic centimeter heat density.

DARPA's involvement in HPEC extends much farther than the ICECool program. Last fall, the agency awarded research contracts to SRI International in Princeton, N.J., and Reservoir Labs Inc. in New York for the Power Efficiency Revolution For Embedded Computing Technologies (PERFECT) program, to overcome power efficiency barriers that limit the capabilities of military embedded systems.

The DARPA PERFECT program aims to increase the power efficiency of HPEC systems from 1 billion floating point operations per second per watt (GFLOPS/w) to 75 GFLOPS/w. Imagine the kind of embedded computing capability these technologies could yield if they ever come to pass. Military intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) experts complain that today's data processing capability and thirst for ISR information leaves us "swimming in sensors, and drowning in data."

The issue isn't so much a problem of too much data, as it is too much superfluous data. Sensors are everywhere churning out oceans of data. There aren't enough processors or human analysts to keep up-today that is. But just take a look at GPGPU technology. This processing approach began life as a high-performance graphics engine aimed at high-end gaming. It didn't take long for the embedded computing community to catch on that GPGPUs were high-performance parallel processors applicable to DSP applications like radar and sonar processing, electronic warfare, and signals intelligence.

One expert explains that graphics processors are particularly good at combining lots of data into a coherent picture. The graphics capability of GPGPUs also are extremely good at taking apart complex pictures, boiling them down only to the information that's needed.

But there's one thing that bugs me about GPGPU technology: its crummy name. I'm proposing a new name: high-performance embedded parallel processing (HPEPP). Give it some thought; it just might catch on.


Get All the Military Aerospace Electronics News Delivered to Your Inbox or Your Mailbox

Subscribe to Military Aerospace Electronics Magazine or email newsletter today at no cost and receive the latest information on:


  • C4ISR
  • Cyber Security
  • Embedded Computing
  • Unmanned Vehicles


Get All the Military Aerospace Electronics News Delivered to Your Inbox or Your Mailbox

Subscribe to Military Aerospace Electronics Magazine or email newsletter today at no cost and receive the latest information on:


  • C4ISR
  • Cyber Security
  • Embedded Computing
  • Unmanned Vehicles

Military & Aerospace Photos

Most Popular Articles

Related Products

General Micro "Horizon" C299

The C299 Horizon is a third generation, 6U cPCI SBC module based on GMS’ upgradable CPU technolog...

RR2P Removable Canister RAID System

Transportable data storage for mobile field use aboard planes, ships and ground transport. 2U, du...

General Micro "Atom" XPC40X Rugged, Ultra-Small, Ultra-Low-Power Intel Atom™ CPU SBC

The XPC40X Atom is a rugged, low cost, ultra-low power, lightweight, Atom™ based computer system....

General Micro's VS295 Eclipse

The VS295 Eclipse is fifth generation, VME SBC module based on GMS, upgradable CPU technology. It...

ADEPT3000 Automatic Video Tracker

GE Intelligent Platforms ADEPT3000 is a cost-effective SWaP optimized automatic video tracking so...

6U OpenVPX HPEC Starter System

GE Intellligent Platforms new HPEC Application Ready Platforms (HARP) products respond to governm...

DSP280 - Rugged Dual Socket 2nd Gen Intel Quad Core i7 Multiprocessor

The DSP280 is a rugged, 6U OpenVPX dual socket Intel 2nd generation Quad Core i7 multiprocessor d...

XPedite7501 4th generation Intel Core i7 processor-based XMC module

The XPedite7501 is a high-performance, low-power, XMC module based on the 4th generation Intel® C...

XCalibur4500 4th generation Intel Core i7 processor-based 6U cPCI module

The XCalibur4500 is a high-performance 6U CompactPCI single board computer that is ideal for rugg...

XCalibur4530 4th generation Intel Core i7 processor-based 6U VME module

The XCalibur4530 is a high-performance 6U VME single board computer that is ideal for ruggedized ...

Related Companies

Innovative Integration

  Since 1988, Innovative Integration has grown to become one of the world's leading suppliers of DSP and data ac...

General Micro Systems Inc

Since 1979, General Micro Systems has been providing the most diverse line of single-board computers in the industry....

Winchester Systems Inc

At its founding in 1981, Winchester Systems introduced its first 5 MB disk system for Intel development system users....

Extreme Engineering Solutions Inc (X-ES)

 Extreme Engineering Solutions, Inc. (X-ES) is a leader in the design, manufacture, and support of standard and ...

LEMO USA Inc

Provides a lightweight, compact aluminum connector. M-series connector is focused on the design that requires a MIL-3...

GE Intelligent Platforms

Provides embedded computing solutions. Products include single-board computers, networking products, avionics interfa...

Omnetics Connector Corp

Omnetics Connector Company is a privately held, world class connector design and manufacturing company with over 25 ...

Dawn VME Products

Dawn provides customers an in-depth and broad range of system and product knowledge and expertise coupled with the la...
Wire News provided by   

Press Releases

Model INCX-4001

The INCX-4001 consists of a high quality audio transceiver specifically designed to implement a complete fiber optic intercom.

Model PS-1210

The PS-1210 is a 1A, 12VDC stand-alone or rack mountable non-switcher (no RF noise) power supply.

Model OS-3121

Optical switches are utilized to disconnect, bypass and reroute fiber optic communications. All of these optical switches are purely optical path, there is no optical to e...

Webcasts

New Design Tools That Help You Develop Radar That Sees the Un-seeable and Detects the Undetectable

Xilinx EW/ISR System Architect, Luke Miller, has new tricks and he’s going to tell you all about them in a new Xilinx Webinar—for free. His Webinar will cover new ways to implement Radar functions including ...
Sponsored by:

Latest from the Paris Air Show

All Access Sponsors


Mil & Aero Magazine

June 2015
Volume 26, Issue 6
file

Download Our Apps



iPhone

iPad

Android

Follow Us On...



Newsletters

Military & Aerospace Electronics

Weekly newsletter covering technical content, breaking news and product information
SUBSCRIBE

Cyber Security

Monthly newsletter covering cyber warfare, cyber security, information warfare, and information security technologies, products, contracts, and procurement opportunities
SUBSCRIBE

Defense Executive

Monthly newsletter covering business news and strategic insights for executive managers
SUBSCRIBE

Electronic Warfare

Quarterly newsletter covering technologies and applications in electronic warfare, cyber warfare, optical warfare, and spectrum warfare.
SUBSCRIBE

Embedded Computing Report

Monthly newsletter covering news on embedded computing in aerospace, defense and industrial-rugged applications
SUBSCRIBE

Unmanned Vehicles

Monthly newsletter covering news updates for designers of unmanned vehicles
SUBSCRIBE