Air Force cryptography experts look to Mercury for embedded computing digital receivers

HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass., 10 Sept. 2013. U.S. Air Force cryptography experts needed a field-programmable-gate-array (FPGA)-based channelizer to support a broad range of digital receiver applications. They found their solution from Mercury Systems in Chelmsford, Mass.

Sep 10th, 2013
Posted by John Keller
Posted by John Keller

HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass., 10 Sept. 2013. U.S. Air Force cryptography experts needed a field-programmable-gate-array (FPGA)-based channelizer to support a broad range of digital receiver applications. They found their solution from Mercury Systems in Chelmsford, Mass.

Officials of the The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Cryptologic Systems Contracting Division (AFLCMC/HNCK) at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., announced their intention Friday to award a sole-source contract to Mercury for several pieces of digital receiver embedded computing equipment.

Air Force contracting officials are asking Mercury to supply five of the company's Echotek series DCM-V5-6416-PCI Express digital receiver -- a 16-bit PCI Express long-format FPGA-based channelizer. The Air Force also is buying one PCI Express to PCI-eXtended (PCI-X) expansion chassis from Mercury. The value of the contract has yet to be negotiated.

The receiver channel synchronization of the DCM-V5-6416 enables users to synchronize all important receiver functions on one DCM-V5-6416-PCI Express or across several boards, Mercury officials say. The board combines high-speed and high-resolution analog-to-digital (A/D) conversion with digital receiver processing.

This device it is suitable for narrowband down-conversion and filtering for applications such as direction finding (DF), geo-location, and commercial wireless communications, company officials say.

When the 32-channel receiver mezzanine with additional FPGA resources is installed on the baseboard, the entire module has 64 channels, while using one PCI Express slot.

Mercury has no distributors for this item, Air Force officials say. The contract is going to Mercury sole-source because Mercury is the only known source that provides these items as they have proprietary rights to the required supplies.

These digital receivers are the only commercially available products on the market that combine 64 digital down-converter channels, a programmable analog to digital converter block, and two Xilinx FPGAs that can be loaded with Air Force software that was designed specifically for use with these Mercury cards, Air Force officials say. These five cards have an estimated total cost of $93,500.

The PCI Express to PCI-X expansion chassis being ordered, which the Air Force refers to as the Echotek 12-0349/CC109, is necessary to address a critical end-of-life technology shortfall, Air Force officials say.

The new generation of Dell R710 servers used in deployed systems cannot accommodate a PCI-X bus and riser slot, which makes it impossible to use the Mercury digital receiver cards without the expansion chassis, Air Force officials say. Using the expansion chassis enables users to avoid overhauling their software for the digital receiver cards.

Although the Air Force is not asking for competitive proposals, companies whose officials believe they may be able to meet Air Force requirements should contact the Air Force's Tina Pettyjohn this week by email at tina.pettyjohn.1@us.af.mil.

Additional information about this procurement is online at https://www.fbo.gov/spg/USAF/AFMC/ESC/FA8307-13-Q-0179/listing.html.

For more information contact Mercury Systems online at www.mrcy.com.

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