Innovation Stories


In order to address affordability issues, the government has mandated Open System Architectures for many Defense programs. In the digital electronics realm, industry standards such as OpenVPX have been developed to address this need. But for RF and Microwave systems, there are no such standards. We’re looking to change that.

OpenRFM™ standardizes the electromechanical, software, control plane and thermal interfaces used by IMAs to provide a modular, scalable architecture for interfacing RF and digital subsystems. This can bring affordability, ease of modernization and interoperability to critical electronic warfare, radar, and other defense applications.

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Intel x86 Server-Class Processing

Mercury was the first company in the high-performance embedded computing industry to bring Intel® Xeon server-class processing to deployed sensor-based systems. Currently in its fourth generation, Mercury’s Ensemble® HDS6603 High Density Server, is the industry’s most powerful open systems architecture (OSA) blade, providing more than one TFLOP of general processing power in a single OpenVPX™ slot. This solution delivers cloud computing-caliber resources to the tactical edge, enabling a new level of embedded on-platform exploitation and mission autonomy by emulating similar but non-rugged data center capability.

Mercury’s packaging, cooling, and interconnect domain expertise enables the latest server-class processing capability to be embedded as an OSA solution on the platform. With the leverage of scalable server-class symmetric multiple-processing (SMP), the most complex radar, EO/IR and IMINT applications are effectively handled on the platform itself, in real-time, bringing actionable intelligence closer to the antenna and information dissemination direct to the warfighter as needed.

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Electronic Countermeasures

Protecting our platforms and warfighters from radar-directed attack is the new front in modern warfare. And that requires flawless jamming and deception. Mercury’s digital RF memory (DRFM) subsystems enable signal detection, captured, modificationed and returned with extremely low latency, all from a deployed platform. Using commercially available components like FPGAs, our DRFMs fit inside a rugged, compact enclosure to meet mission-specific requirements.

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PowerPC Processing

Mercury has enjoyed a long-term association with Freescale Semiconductor. In fact, the innovative industry-standard RapidIO interconnect was developed by Freescale and Mercury.

For several years now, Mercury has been developing boards and systems based on AltiVec-enabled Power Architecture Freescale processors. These customers have protected their application software investment because their legacy Scientific Algorithm Library (SAL)-based applications can execute unchanged on the latest Power Architecture products, saving many hours of development time and minimizing development budget.

Learn more about Mercury’s latest Freescale-based products

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Thermal Management

High-performance embedded computers are clearly valued because of their high speed of operation. When operating at high speeds, however, the modules generate large amounts of heat, potentially causing system damage.

For more information on Mercury’s Air Flow-By tm cooling system and how it can help increase performance while still meeting SWaP constraints, download "Innovations in Thermal Management: Air Flow-By".

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Concurrent Engineering

Complex engineering development processes often result in long design cycles, sometimes measured in years. And that simply won’t do. Warfighter needs demand a far more rapid development and deployment of embedded software.

Thanks to the growing use of Intel processors in defense platforms, a much better methodology exits: concurrent engineering. Concurrent engineering enables both software and hardware development to happen in parallel, resulting in faster time to deployment, reduced risk and protected software investments.

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Field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) offer many benefits including high-performance and “on-the-fly” re-programmability. However, FPGA IP (typically VHDL or Verilog code) is difficult to develop because it requires detailed hardware and system integration, as well as control knowledge. Mercury offers several innovative tools to address this situation.

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Mercury was the first to harness the power of GPGPUs for ISR applications such as EO/IR sensor processing.

Learn more about GPGPUs from our archived webcast

Another innovation Mercury brought to market is StreamDirect™. Without affecting application software, StreamDirect moves data with great efficiency into GPGPU coprocessors, achieving performance improvement factors that approach 2X.

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High-Capacity Deployable Storage

Modern sensors are capable of generating massive amounts of real-time data that must be stored for in-depth analysis, future reference or other near-real-time needs. As a result, platforms carrying these sensors face particularly challenging storage design issues — especially given their unique SWaP considerations and their exposure to harsh temperatures, shock and vibration.

Mercury’s customers find our approach to deployable storage solutions highly innovative, because every storage solution is completely customizable to their specific needs. For example, our deployable storage units have been designed to specifications such data interfaces, storage capacity, redundancy and security requirements. This high degree of customization, flexible and modular design, combined with a clear upgrade path allows you to future-proof your storage designs.

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OpenVPX Standard Development

Introduced in 2004, VITA 46 (VPX) is a high-performance and extensible embedded multicomputer specification. However, many of Mercury’s customers still expressed concerns over VPX system-level interoperability. To address VPX interoperability concerns, Mercury took the lead in forming the OpenVPX Industry Working Group. The working group set out to tackle several objectives, including reducing the time to market for developing COTS solutions in 3U and 6U form factors, increasing supplier options, lowering adoption risk with improved interoperability, reducing delivery times for new production systems, and reducing the total cost of system ownership.

This visionary effort immediately gained the support of other key COTS embedded suppliers, prime contractors and leading systems integrators. Their goal was to create and publish a top-down, system-level specification for module, backplane and development chassis architectures and pin-outs necessary to create interoperable VPX systems and assemblies. OpenVPX (otherwise known as VITA 65) was introduced in October 2009.

Mercury believes that the Open VPX System Specification with multi-plane reference architectures provides the basis for delivering innovative processing solutions designed to meet or exceed current and future DoD-critical, real-time embedded SWaP application requirements.

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Optimized Signal Processing Algorithms

The explosion in the number of sensors being used on ISR platforms has driven an increased need for signal, image and data processing algorithms.

Mercury has developed, tested and optimized libraries of ultra-high performing, efficient, single- and multi-core processing libraries for Freescale, Intel, NVIDIA and AMD processors. MultiCorePlus MathPack represents over 25 years of expertise in algorithm design and code optimization.

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Operation in demanding environments while maintaining requisite functionality and performance is a huge challenge for defense embedded applications. Mercury is addressing and even preempting these challenges. Innovations in ruggedization and packaging include the creation of new socketing technology and standing memory for Mercury’s line of Intel Server-Class Processing-based product line. Another innovation is the application of the industry-standard rugged MxM form factor for the GPGPU-based product line.

Additionally, as technology continues to advance, unforeseen issues arise. Processing performance continues to increase year over year due to the availability of faster and faster processors, creating a significant demand to increase the interconnect speeds of embedded multicomputer systems. While InfiniBand®, 40 Gigabit Ethernet (40GbE) and PCIe® 3.0 possess the communication performance to address these needs, they have their own challenges when implemented in rugged, deployed systems. Mercury and TE Connectivity are collaborating to address these challenges and focus on next-generation solutions for robust module connections in high-vibration environments inherent in industrial and defense applications.

To learn more about the Mercury and TE Connectivity collaboration and the rugged solution developed as a result, download "Rugged Technologies for Deployed Applications".

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