Third-generation anti-ship missile defense system switched from open source operating system RTOS

SANTA BARBARA, Calif., 7 Dec. 2010. Needing real-time determinism and more efficient debug capability for their third generation anti-ship missile defense system, engineers at CEA in Canberra, Australia, switched from an open source real-time operating system (RTOS) to the INTEGRITY RTOS from Green Hills Software in Santa Barbara, Calif.

Posted by John McHale

SANTA BARBARA, Calif., 7 Dec. 2010. Needing real-time determinism and more efficient debug capability for their third generation anti-ship missile defense system, engineers at CEA in Canberra, Australia, switched from an open source real-time operating system (RTOS) to the INTEGRITY RTOS from Green Hills Software in Santa Barbara, Calif.

The missile defense system -- CEAFAR -- is an active phased array radar with a microwave tile-based design, according to the CEA web site. The combination of the microwave tile and the digital beam forming backend provides a modular, programmable and scalable solution. The radar is designed for military and civil applications.

The system defends against Russian anti-ship missiles such as the Sizzler, which flies above 12 feet above the ocean surface at Mach 2.9 or a mile every 1.5 seconds, says Geoff Patch, software engineering manager at CEA. The ship needs to track and engage the missile in 15 seconds or it will be too late, he adds.

"Missile defense is a serious business where a failure could result in hundreds of people dying horribly," Patch continues . "We had to have tools that supported this philosophy." Patch made his comments at the Green Hills Software Elite Users Technology Summit in Santa Barbara, Calif.

"We like the Green Hills technology," their MULTI integrated development environment, and were impressed with the INTEGRITY RTOS, he says.

The tools are designed for "mission critical systems such as radar and have the high performance and determinism we were looking for," Patch says

The radar system originally used pSOS as its operating system, then ported it to eCos -- an open source RTOS for the second generation of the radar, says Geoff Patch, software engineering manager at CEA. eCos was a good system that had cost-benefits being open source, he adds.

"It seemed like a good deal," Patch says. However, while up-front cost were low and the long term cost in maintaining the open source system were not ideal, he continues.

One of the problems was in understanding the code and debugging it, Patch explains. This was not the core competency of CEA engineers who specialized in radar systems and the like.

That is "one big thing we like" about the Green Hills suite -- their debugging technology, Patch says.

The debugger can "take me to the exact line of code [that is problematic] and I can have it fixed in two minutes," Patch says.

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