Xilinx RF SoC Used to Develop Direct RF Processing System for Electronic Warfare Applications

Abaco Systems recently introduced its VP430 Direct RF Processing System, the first 3U VPX COTS solution to feature the all new Xilinx ZU27DR RF SoC technology. The RF processing system has been gaining mass interest since its release and now the company is facing a backlog of customer orders which it expects to ship imminently.

Abaco has been overwhelmed by the interest in this ground-breaking new product. Although they expected it to be well received among those developing advanced electronic warfare applications, they did not expect this level of interest. In the weeks since the VP430 was announced, and in response to enquiries from many prospective customers, Abaco has been working extensively to characterize its performance. Abaco now has wide-ranging performance data available, such as ADC/DAC crosstalk, analog performance, latency and will share that with companies looking for the kind of solution the VP430 represents.

An example of the type of application being created with the VP430 at its heart is a next generation direction finding system for battlefield communications. Under development by a major prime contractor, the ground-based system will provide location tracking for all communications and radars in the monitored area as well as EW coverage for nearby assets and personnel. The VP430 was selected because its higher channel density, analog bandwidth and leading edge processing capabilities for direction finding are superior to those of existing 3U VPX solutions.

Designed for advanced electronic warfare applications requiring MIMO (multiple input/output), beamforming, sensor processing and radar signal processing capabilities, the VP430 is a major step forward in performance and density, enabling the use of fewer boards and much less power while delivering increased processing throughput. In fact, for comparable capability, it occupies one fourth of the slots that earlier generation solutions would require. The VP430 includes the option to be built with a FireFly 8-channel VITA 66.4 fiber optic interface for transfers of greater than 12 GBps for applications in which the throughput of the native VPX PCI Express Gen3 data plane is inadequate or when a remote client requires streaming data.

Responding to the cost- and complexity challenge of RF systems with multiple channels - more channels means more expensive and large RF signal up/down conversion and signal conditioning - the VP430 enables direct RF sampling which can be implemented in the digital domain, bringing greater flexibility to the signal processing chain. Additionally, simplified integration with RF sampling devices removes the complexity of JESD204B high speed serial interfaces.

The new Xilinx RFSoC is a revolutionary step in integration technology bringing a combination of Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) processing capability, a multi-processor embedded ARM Cortex-A53 Application processing unit (APU), an ARM real time processing unit (RPU) and eight input analog-to-digital converter and eight digital-to-analog converter channels. Additionally, the Zynq Ultrascale+ architecture integrates all this with features to enable high security IP protection. The RFSoC brings extreme analog bandwidth with a sustained throughput of 6 GSPS per channel and greater than 12 GBps per channel digital offload capability.