White Paper

The New SiP Device Drives a Leap in RF Edge Processing

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WHITE PAPER The New SiP Device Drives a Leap in RF Edge Processing mrcy.com 3 A clear example is radar spoofing, where embedded components detect, alter and then replay radar pulses to create false and deceptively moving targets. This only works when the response latency is so low the original emitter radar system cannot perceive a time lag in the replayed pulse. Effectiveness is also dependent on a high spectral density spread across multiple channels to maximize rapid pulse detection and response, making high-fidelity data just as critical as low- latency. Active radars have similar requirements. For example, a multifunction AESA radar puts tremendous demands on embedded processing, as it must dynamically shift from surveillance of long-range threats to tracking and jamming short-range targets. The inherent flexibility of this type of system can only be exploited when all the available data is processed within stringent real-time parameters. New, still-evolving application areas are adding further processing requirements. Cognitive radar applies artificial intelligence (AI) techniques to extract information about a target from a received signal and then uses that information to improve transmit parameters such as frequency, waveform shape and pulse repetition frequency. In a similar fashion, cognitive EW applies AI to identify patterns in detected data and then develop an appropriate response. To be effective, both cognitive radar and cognitive EW must execute their AI algorithms in near real-time. That, in turn, requires that graphics processing units (GPUs) are added to the RF processing function, complementing the FPGAs that perform signal analysis and creation. Until recently, multiple processing methods required multiple, distinct semiconductors, often in a multi-board system. New technology has driven past that barrier. (See the description below of the Xilinx Versal® AI Edge ACAP.) For RF applications, moving data from the ADC/DAC function to a centralized computing resource impacts both data fidelity and latency. The current generation of ADCs/DACs are already generating data bandwidths that overwhelm system-level interconnects, forcing substantial data reduction before processing. The interconnects also introduce transmission times that make the next generation of sophisticated, low- latency radar and EW responses difficult, or impossible To overcome these limitations, modern designs must move away from a centralized computing model and put all the processing where the data is—at the tactical edge. OBSTACLES: COMPONENT INTEGRATION AND SWAP Implementing RF edge processing requires multiple, tightly integrated functions that work together to capture, analyze and manipulate a data stream in real time. Latency requirements favor ADCs/DACs that can implement direct digital conversion. Efficient processing of the digital bit stream demands pipelined operations by some combination of FPGAs, GPUs and general-purpose processors. All these components must be connected with high-bandwidth interconnects that meet latency needs and be supplied with their required power specifications, all within a package small enough to be placed near the sensing antenna. Exploiting Leading-Edge Commercial Technology The enormous worldwide commercial electronics market continually drives technology forward at a rapid pace with hundreds of billions in R&D investments every year. The much smaller defense electronics marketplace capitalizes on that significant commercial investment by adopting new technologies, then adapting them to the unique requirements posed by defense applications. The challenge for defense electronics is to compress the adopt-and-adapt cycle as much as possible. If our defense forces can rapidly access new technologies, we can maintain an advantage over adversaries. We lose that advantage if it takes half a decade to move new technology into deployment. Mercury is the leader in adapting commercial technology to defense applications and platforms, making them more affordable, safe and secure. We are accelerating the process of bringing new technology to our defense customers as we bridge the gap between commercial technology and defense solutions. Through close collaboration with our technology teams at Xilinx, Jariet and Ferric, we have been able to adopt the SiP concept and rapidly adapt it for RF edge processing. Likewise, collaboration with the semiconductor industry enables us to integrate latest- generation technologies and push server-class processing to the tactical edge.

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