Military electronics design involves squeezing as much functionality into as little space as possible, and Mercury Systems, Inc. has built a strong reputation by means of some innovative squeezing. The firm offers standard integrated microwave assemblies (IMAs), as well as IMAs designed and built to a customer’s requirements—and sometimes even their hopes and dreams. With RF/microwave capabilities that extend from 10 MHz to 40 GHz in narrowband or broadband single-layer and multilayer configurations, the company exercises a comprehensive suite of computer-aided-engineering (CAE) tools; it thus provides customers with detailed RF and mechanical simulations of their design goals.

The IMAs are built from a variety of materials, depending upon the needs of the application. These include soft boards, low-temperature-cofired-ceramic (LTCC), and alumina circuit substrates; all are manufactured and tested in Class-10,000 clean rooms. The company has designed and produced a wide range of IMAs qualified for military and high-end-commercial use, including frequency converters, power amplifiers, high-power transceivers, switches, and high-linearity switched amplifiers.

An example of Mercury’s RF/microwave integration capability is a Ku-band transceiver for satellite communications (satcom). This high-power transceiver (HPT) enables frequency upconversion from L-band to Ku-band frequencies. It consists of five major subassemblies: block-upconverter/block-downconverter (BUC/BDC), 25-W power amplifier, 115-VAC power supply, 10-MHz frequency reference, and digital interface and control circuitry. Frequency upconversion and downconversion functions are both phase-locked to a 10-MHz frequency reference.

Upconverted Ku-band signals are boosted by the power amplifier and sent to an antenna for transmission. The 400-W power supply accepts aircraft-supplied voltages from 100 to 120 VAC at frequencies from 360 to 800 Hz. The digital interface is based on a microprocessor running the LINUX operating system (OS); it supports extensive built-in-test (BIT) functions for the system and application, which was initially a commercial airborne application and successfully passed qualification testing in accordance with DO-160E standards.

Mercury also provides densely packaged processor technologies. All are designed to address highly data-intensive signal and image processing applications within environmentally constrained military and commercial platforms. These commercially developed open-architecture-based products are optimized for size, weight, and power (SWaP), as well as for demanding performance requirements.

As an example, Mercury’s Ensemble® 6000 Series OpenVPX™ High Density Server (HDS) data/graphics modules for Gen 2 Serial RapidIO® and 10Gigabit Ethernet subsystems, such as the model HDS-6502AC (see figure) module, pack an enormous amount of functionality into the tight OpenVPX format. The modules are available in air-cooled, conduction-cooled (VITA-48.2), and air-flow-by (VITA-48.7) configurations. Air-cooled modules are rated for operating temperatures from -25 to +85°C and altitudes from 0 to 50,000 ft. altitude; conduction-cooled units are designed for operating temperatures from -40 to +71°C and altitudes from 0 to 100,000 ft.; and air-flow-by versions specific to a design are available (consult the factory for details).

The HDS-6502AC module is built upon a pair of 2.4-GHz quad-core i7-4700EQ processors from Intel Corp. with native advanced vector extensions 2.0 (AVX2), on-die GT2 graphics processing units (GPUs), and third-generation PCIe interfaces backed by 16 GB of 1600-MHz DDR3 memory. The OpenVPX module provides reliable communications by merit of its proven field-programmable gate array (FPGA)—a Stratix 5SGXA7 from Altera—that can orchestrate Gen 2 Serial RapidIO at 3.125, 5.00, and 6.25 Gbaud/s, as well as 10Gigabit Ethernet.

Aided by Mercury’s Protocol Offload Engine Technology (POET™) firmware, this module is well suited for working with sensors and applications reading and writing data from sensors, including in radar and signal-intelligence (SIGINT) systems. The POET firmware can execute upgrades on the module’s fabric protocol without any modifications to the hardware for flexibility as needed.

Mercury Systems, 201 Riverneck Rd., Chelmsford, MA 01824-2820; (978) 967-1401, (866) 627-6951, FAX: (978) 256-3599.