Processing data on the frontline: designing embedded computing systems for mission-critical data processing

Author : Mark Jeffrey | Technical Director | Recab UK

01 February 2021

Recab_Processing data on the frontline_Land military communications vehicles
Recab_Processing data on the frontline_Land military communications vehicles

Information & intelligence have long been the backbone of successful military & defence operations. Increasingly, that intelligence is driven by data collected by devices & systems in the air, on land & aboard naval vessels – which requires reliable, rugged embedded systems capable of handling vast quantities of data.

The full version of this article was originally featured in the February 2021 issue of EPDT magazine [read the digital issue]. Sign up to receive your own copy each month.

Here, Mark Jeffrey, Technical Director at rugged defence computing specialist, Recab UK outlines the key considerations when designing embedded systems for processing data in defence.

Across all industries, we are experiencing a data generation boom. Every day, we globally generate a volume of data that would have been incomprehensible just a couple of decades ago. However, with increased data comes the need for greater processing requirements in the growing armada of embedded electronic systems.

This is especially pertinent to defence applications, where embedded electronic systems are used for everything from communications to global positioning, in all applications from remote fixed systems to mobile vehicles on land, in the air and at sea. These systems must process input data quickly and effectively, all in harsh operating environments, which involves an ever-increasing amount of processing power and careful design considerations.

As many applications have become more data-intensive, there has been an increase in computing techniques such as graphics processing unit (GPU) accelerated computing to improve system capabilities. This has led to wide use of GPGPUs (general-purpose computing on graphics processing units) in many industry applications, with parallel computing platforms like NVIDIA’s Compute Unified Device Architecture (CUDA) entering into embedded computing systems beyond the realm of gaming, where it was originally used.

GPGPU is most readily used in applications that typically operate in a stable, and often temperature-controlled, environment, like telecommunications. The transition has not been as smooth for computing platforms that are to be subjected to extreme shock and vibration, or extreme temperature and humidity fluctuations that range from sub-zero to triple digits, in addition to supporting mission-critical, lifesaving and security-focused applications.

Read the full article in EPDT's February 2021 issue...

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