Polish radar uses SKYchannel, Sky DSP boards

CHELMSFORD, Mass. - Engineers at the Telecommunications Research Institute, (PIT) in Warsaw, Poland, needed high-performance rugged signal processing for their new long-range mobile 3D TRD-1211 radar systems for the Polish military.

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By John McHale

CHELMSFORD, Mass. - Engineers at the Telecommunications Research Institute, (PIT) in Warsaw, Poland, needed high-performance rugged signal processing for their new long-range mobile 3D TRD-1211 radar systems for the Polish military.

They decided on the SKYchannel data network, as well as SHARCpool and Excalibur single-board digital signal processors (DSP) from Sky Computers Inc. in Chelmsford, Mass.

The system tracks ships and aircraft, costs less than $1 million, includes seven SHARCpool and 32 Excalibur 6U VME DSP cards, and delivers a compute performance of 58 billion floating point operations per second.

Sky engineers base their SHARCpool boards on the Analog Devices 21060 SHARC DSP, and their Excalibur card on the Motorola PowerPC microprocessor. SKYchannel moves data between circuit cards at 320 megabytes per second.

"SKYchannel is a simple and elegant solution," says Jacek Majewski, PIT senior research engineer. "It overcomes at least two apparent bottlenecks in competing architectures, one in the distribution of data among processing elements, the other with the memory bandwidth at the node responsible for processing detections."

PIT officials say their evaluation criteria included feasibility of a real-time implementation, and the prospect for a long-term relationship with the selected supplier, and cost.

"The feasibility issue gives a clear advantage to Sky," Majewski says." As of today, SKYchannel offers twice the bandwidth. This is coupled with the simplicity of its architecture for the programmer. It looks as if the competition failed to upgrade its architecture in time, and now it is one step behind. For the specific case of the PIT algorithm implementation, it appears much easier on the SKYchannel."

PIT`s decision to choose Sky Computers "was based upon a thorough analysis of the competing technologies and companies which clearly indicated Sky can provide a superior solution," says Wieslaw Klembowski, deputy director of PIT.

The TRD-1211 radar automatically detects and tracks objects as far away as 217 miles, and as high as 130,000 feet. The radar`s three main pieces of electronic equipment - the transmitter container, antenna unit, and operational container - are on a flatbed truck.

The antenna can fold down and be removed for alternate transportation. Eight separate receiving antenna beams with low-level sidelobes, sophisticated signal processing with adaptive MTI systems, pulse compression, and post detection filtration of tracks resist electronic jamming.

The SKYchannel 64-bit packet bus is an ANSI standard for communication over the VME P2 connector between daughtercards and motherboards, between boards, and between chassis for scaleable multiprocessing. As many as 256 VME boards in multiple chassis can be connected in a SKYchannel system.

When used with Sky compute daughtercards, SKYchannel enables PowerPC, SHARC, or Intel i860 microprocessors to work together in a distributed shared memory architecture.

The 12-processor SHARCpool compute daughtercard delivers 1.44 billion floating point operations per second of DSP performance. One SHARCpool on a 6U VME motherboard delivers 1.44 billion floating point operations per second.

Excalibur is based on the new PowerPC 740 microprocessor and is configured with four PowerPC 740 microprocessors and as much as 256 megabytes of dynamic random access memory. One Excalibur on a 6U VME motherboard delivers 2 billion floating point operations per second of performance. The key to accessing the processing performance is the PowerPC 740 microprocessor`s memory access rate of 83.3 MHz at 64-bits wide.

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The mobile 3D radar rugged 6U system from the Telecommunications Research Institute in Warsaw, Poland, is configured with Chelmsford, Mass.-based Sky Computers`s SHARC-based SHARCpool and PowerPC-based Excalibur.

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