U.S. Army CERDEC, Hypres, and L-3 Communications reveal breakthrough in X-band satellite communications

ELMSFORD, N.Y., 8 Dec. 2006. The U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Research, Development, and Engineering Center (CERDEC) and their partners, Hypres Inc. and L-3 Communications, demonstrated direct radio frequency digitization in the X-band frequency range using the Hypres M132 processing chip cooled at 4 Kelvin (-452 degrees Fahrenheit). As a result, U.S. Army researchers accomplished with a one-centimeter chip what has required racks of expensive satellite communications gear.

ELMSFORD, N.Y., 8 Dec. 2006. The U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Research, Development, and Engineering Center (CERDEC) and their partners, Hypres Inc. and L-3 Communications, demonstrated direct radio frequency digitization in the X-band frequency range using the Hypres M132 processing chip cooled at 4 Kelvin (-452 degrees Fahrenheit). As a result, U.S. Army researchers accomplished with a one-centimeter chip made with hyper-cooled niobium what has always required racks of expensive satellite communications gear.

The broadcast selected to traverse the new media was a video clip of an aggressive military live-fire training engagement.

The breakthrough could in essence take out the "middleman" in military operated X-band satellite communications frequencies by enabling a signal to be digitized without the need for Intermediate Frequency "down" converters and other analog components.

An enterprise military satellite terminal configuration has 56 down-converters with each converter costing approximately $28,000, according to Rick Dunnegan, project's lead technical integrator from CERDEC.

Military satellite stations around the world use down-converters to convert the Super High Frequency (SHF) also referred to as X-band, down to a much lower intermediate frequency. The reason is no existing modems are currently capable of conducting the demodulation process directly at the X-Band frequency range explains Dunnegan.

Modulation is the processing term for modifying radio transmissions to carry data, and demodulation is the processing term for harvesting data from radio transmissions.

This breakthrough can potentially lead to a reduction of satellite's power consumption, which equates to fewer dollars spent, says Dunnegan.

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