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Proceedings Paper

Missile signal processing common computer architecture for rapid technology upgrade
Author(s): Daniel V. Rabinkin; Edward Rutledge; Paul Monticciolo
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Paper Abstract

Interceptor missiles process IR images to locate an intended target and guide the interceptor towards it. Signal processing requirements have increased as the sensor bandwidth increases and interceptors operate against more sophisticated targets. A typical interceptor signal processing chain is comprised of two parts. Front-end video processing operates on all pixels of the image and performs such operations as non-uniformity correction (NUC), image stabilization, frame integration and detection. Back-end target processing, which tracks and classifies targets detected in the image, performs such algorithms as Kalman tracking, spectral feature extraction and target discrimination. In the past, video processing was implemented using ASIC components or FPGAs because computation requirements exceeded the throughput of general-purpose processors. Target processing was performed using hybrid architectures that included ASICs, DSPs and general-purpose processors. The resulting systems tended to be function-specific, and required custom software development. They were developed using non-integrated toolsets and test equipment was developed along with the processor platform. The lifespan of a system utilizing the signal processing platform often spans decades, while the specialized nature of processor hardware and software makes it difficult and costly to upgrade. As a result, the signal processing systems often run on outdated technology, algorithms are difficult to update, and system effectiveness is impaired by the inability to rapidly respond to new threats. A new design approach is made possible three developments; Moore's Law - driven improvement in computational throughput; a newly introduced vector computing capability in general purpose processors; and a modern set of open interface software standards. Today's multiprocessor commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) platforms have sufficient throughput to support interceptor signal processing requirements. This application may be programmed under existing real-time operating systems using parallel processing software libraries, resulting in highly portable code that can be rapidly migrated to new platforms as processor technology evolves. Use of standardized development tools and 3rd party software upgrades are enabled as well as rapid upgrade of processing components as improved algorithms are developed. The resulting weapon system will have a superior processing capability over a custom approach at the time of deployment as a result of a shorter development cycles and use of newer technology. The signal processing computer may be upgraded over the lifecycle of the weapon system, and can migrate between weapon system variants enabled by modification simplicity. This paper presents a reference design using the new approach that utilizes an Altivec PowerPC parallel COTS platform. It uses a VxWorks-based real-time operating system (RTOS), and application code developed using an efficient parallel vector library (PVL). A quantification of computing requirements and demonstration of interceptor algorithm operating on this real-time platform are provided.

Paper Details

Date Published: 26 October 2004
PDF: 15 pages
Proc. SPIE 5559, Advanced Signal Processing Algorithms, Architectures, and Implementations XIV, (26 October 2004); doi: 10.1117/12.547765
Show Author Affiliations
Daniel V. Rabinkin, MIT Lincoln Lab. (United States)
Edward Rutledge, MIT Lincoln Lab. (United States)
Paul Monticciolo, MIT Lincoln Lab. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 5559:
Advanced Signal Processing Algorithms, Architectures, and Implementations XIV
Franklin T. Luk, Editor(s)

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