DY 4 and BAE Systems collaborate to design mission-critical graphics devices

Engineers at DY 4 Systems in Kanata, Ontario, and BAE Systems in Edinburgh, Scotland, are joining hands to develop open-architecture graphics circuit boards for cockpit applications that require multiple sensor inputs, moving maps, and multifunction displays.

By John McHale

KANATA, Ontario — Engineers at DY 4 Systems in Kanata, Ontario, and BAE Systems in Edinburgh, Scotland, are joining hands to develop open-architecture graphics circuit boards for cockpit applications that require multiple sensor inputs, moving maps, and multifunction displays.

DY 4 engineers are designing the hardware based on their existing Insights PCI mezzanine card (PMC) 700 products, says Duncan Young, director of marketing at DY 4. BAE Systems experts are handling the system-level input based on their experience with cockpit avionics and moving map displays, Young says.

The first product of the collaboration is a VMEbus multiple-head display controller with a PowerPC processing core that supports OpenGL and X Windows. DY 4 and BAE Systems experts are using technology insertion methods to accommodate obsolescence problems in future products, company officials explain.

The first product in this so-called "Cornerstone" family should appear in 2001, Young says. It will be for cockpit instrumentation displays, moving maps, fire control, sensor displays such as radar and sonar, and command and control, DY 4 officials say.

Typical platforms that would benefit from the technology include the U.S. F-15, F-16, and F/A-18 combat jets, the Apache and Cobra combat helicopters, and C-130, C-5, and C-17 transport planes, Young says. Young declined to comment on any specific contracts.

DY 4 engineers also recently released two additions to their Insights graphical display line — mezzanine modules called Trinity I and Trinity II. The PMC modules mount on COTS VME or CompactPCI processor modules and are for avionics applications.

The 3D Labs Permedia3 (P3) graphics chip, a commercial device that DY 4 engineers have analyzed and qualified for operation in harsh environments powers Trinity, DY 4 officials say. The P3 device offers variable display resolutions, a virtual text memory management unit, anti-aliased lines and polygons, and scissoring and stippling, they add.

The Insights field programmable gate array (FPGA) enables Trinity to support different graphics display and transmission standards in addition to concurrent video capture, distribution, and display, DY 4 officials say. The FPGA is configured on a private PCI bus connection to the P3, isolated from the host processor's PCI bus by a PCI-to-PCI bridge. This increases video bandwidth and frees the host processor's PCI bus for other tasks, company officials explain.

For older systems, the Trinity can capture and display interlaced and non-interlaced video transmitted over RS-170, RS-343, and NATO standard STANAG 3350. Digital video flows through low voltage differential signaling, or LVDS, for distribution in a multi-drop environment.

Trinity can drive new active-matrix liquid-crystal displays directly using transition minimized differential signaling, or TMDS, the new standard supported by National Semiconductor in Santa Clara, Calif., and Texas Instruments in Dallas, DY 4 officials say.

For more information on DY 4 contact Duncan Young by phone at 613-599-9199, by fax at 613-599-7777, by mail at DY 4 Canada, 333 Palladium Drive, M/S 212, Kanata, Ontario K2V 1A6, Canada, by e-mail at sales@dy4.com, or on the World Wide Web at http://www.dy4.com.

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