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Multi-Cores: The Gateway to Next-Gen SBCs and Blades

With the introduction of Intel Core microarchitecture into embedded systems, history could very well repeat itself. The company that invented the microprocessor in 1971 and created the very first micro-controller in 1976 is about to revolutionize the embedded space once again. By bringing the power of parallel processing to embedded developers in an open-standards-based building block architecture, Intel is hoping to break down the cost barriers while taking embedded systems performance to new levels that once were reserved only for expensive computer systems specifically designed for symmetric multiprocessing (SMP), while also accomplishing unrivaled levels of efficiency.

Posted in: Articles, Articles, Board-Level Electronics, Electronics & Computers, Architecture, Embedded software
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Beamforming System Eases Crowded Wireless Spectrum

Beamforming is critical to enable initiatives by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to increase spectrum capacity and provide additional cellular service and coverage through satellite and terrestrial systems. The key technology for this application is beamforming, which electronically steers data streams to and from a satellite via a combination of an array of antennas on the satellite and very sophisticated, ground-based computational engines.

Posted in: Articles, Articles, Board-Level Electronics, Electronics & Computers, Antennas, Telecommunications, Waveguides, Satellites
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SOA in Practice: Model-Driven Repositories Fill the Gap Between Concept and Implementation

In the past, network-based applications were pretty simple. A networked server ran a monolithic application that users accessed via a basic GUI (graphical user interface). Today, organizations struggle to develop feature-rich, network-based applications while also facing business pressure to minimize timescales, maximize quality, and work with legacy systems hosted on different platforms.

Posted in: Articles, Articles, Board-Level Electronics, Electronics & Computers, Design processes, Architecture, Human machine interface (HMI)
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How to Design an Embedded RDBMS Search

As the cost of micro-disk and NAND Flash continue to drop, devices are storing more and more data. It is common now for a person's MP3 player to have more storage than their laptop. But this increase in storage capacity has not been matched with advances in the user interface. Typically, users still wrestle with a folder-based interface to find the data they want, searching by a few vendor-defined categories such as artist, album, and genre. But a new class of embedded database manage- ment systems (DBMS) is emerging to allow end users to search the way people think, rather than in this stat- ic manner. With a RAM footprint ranging from a few tens to a few hundred kilobytes, these products enable developers to deliver this sophisti- cated search on mobile devices. So how do they work? How do you write an embedded application to use a relational DBMS (RDBMS)? While there are a few kinds of DBMS, the relational model has tri- umphed over all the others, largely because it abstracts the data struc- tures so that applications don't have to know them. A relational database management system offers a standard, high-level query language that allows access to data by content, not by pointer or location and offset.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Application Briefs, Board-Level Electronics, Electronics & Computers, Architecture, Human machine interface (HMI), Data management
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WIN-T: The Warfighter's Communications Backbone for Today and Tomorrow

The battlefield of the future will integrate all elements into one networked force, enabling communication among soldiers and commanders on the land, at sea, in the air, and at fixed command posts. Developed by a team led by General Dynamics C4 Systems and Lockheed Martin, the Warfighter Information Network - Tactical (WIN-T) project is the tactical communications backbone for the warfighter, both today and for the future. WIN-T supports voice, video, and data applications, enabling the soldier to stay connected anytime and anywhere by providing mobility and reliable bandwidth. Leveraging communications technologies such as cellular, wireless LAN, satellite, and VoiceOver IP, WIN-T links weapons, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, while remaining mobile, scalable, modular, and secure.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, Satellite communications, Telecommunications systems, Military vehicles and equipment
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Open-Standard Multicomputers Address Next-Generation Multi-Function Radar Applications

Next-generation radar applications will drive performance demands that will have architectural implications for radar computing and electronics. Advanced multi-function radar (MFR) systems, which will be deployed in harsh and demanding environmental conditions inside unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), manned aircraft, and ship- and ground-based radar systems must simultaneously provide multi-mode search, multi-target tracking, synthetic aperture radar (SAR) imaging, and space time adaptive processing (STAP). Both the performance and ruggedization requirements make it challenging to service MFR applications using yesterday's commercial- off-the-shelf (COTS) technologies.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, Architecture, Radar, Systems engineering, Durability, Reliability
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Front-End Mixed-Signal Receiver on a Chip

A mixed-signal receiver on a chip (RoC) now undergoing development is intended to be a prototype of the front ends of lightweight, compact, low-power, relatively inexpensive heterodyne radio receivers for future phased array radar systems. [As used here, "mixed-signal" refers to a design for utilization of both analog and digital signals, and "front end" signifies the portion of a heterodyne receiver that processes the raw radio-frequency (RF) input to produce an output at an intermediate frequency (IF) that is the difference between the RF and the frequency of a local oscillator (LO).] The RoC will include two integrated circuits, denoted IC1 and IC2 respectively, that comprise integrated chipsets designed and fabricated on the basis of the International Business Machines 7HP generation of SiGe bipolar complementary oxide/semiconductor (BiCMOS) technology.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Radar, Radio equipment
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A Predictive Model for Cognitive Radio

A computational model that predicts effects of changing operational parameters of a cognitive radio has been developed as part of continuing research on cognitive / software - defined radio (C/SDR) data-communication networks. The term "cognitive radio," "software-defined radio," or "smart radio" denotes a radio transmitter, receiver, or transceiver, (1) much of the functionality of which is implemented in software and (2) that is able to reason about its configuration on the basis of requirements and its environment.

Posted in: Briefs, Software, Radio equipment
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Metamaterials for Advanced Microwave Antennas

A report discusses a research and development project that has made contributions to the art of metamaterials for directing electromagnetic radiation at frequencies of the order of several gigahertz. The next-generation metamaterials expected to emerge from this and related projects could enormously improve the performances of microwave radar and communication antennas.

Posted in: Briefs, Materials, Antennas
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Heterodyne RF/Optical Links Utilizing Integrated Photonics

A program of research and development has been directed toward the goals of demonstrating (1) ultra-low-noise communication links in which information is conveyed by phase-modulated radio-frequency (RF) carrier signals that are, in turn, used to modulate laser-generated optical carrier signals and (2) implementation of transmitters and receivers in such links by means of several key integrated optoelectronic and photonic components. Notably, the scheme for integrating these components is based on the use of asymmetric twin optical waveguides (see figure) that afford design versatility in that they enable the use of a broad range of components useful in RF/photonic applications.

Posted in: Briefs, Photonics, Optics, Waveguides, Research and development
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