U.S. Defense Department researchers recently announced the develop- ment of an analog-to-digital con- verter chip that processes spectrum at the previously unheard of rate of 60 billion times
per second—fast enough to potentially ensure the uninterrupted operation of spectrum-dependent military systems, including communications and radar, in contested
and congested electromagnetic environments.
The electromagnetic spectrum consists of component
energy waves, from trillionth-of-a-meter-wavelength
gamma rays to multikilometer-wavelength radio waves.
It is a physical phenomenon. Analog-to-digital converters (ADCs) transform physical, or
analog, data on the spectrum into digits that
a computer can analyze and manipulate, an important
capability for understanding and adapting to dynamic electromagnetic environments, Defense Advanced Research
Projects Agency (DARPA) officials explain in a written
DARPA’s ultrapowerful ADC measures 32 nanometers.
For perspective, an IBM white paper says more than 4
million 32-nanometer transistors could fit on a period
at the end of a sentence. A 32-nanometer transistor
DARPA Chips Away at
A revolutionary semiconductor once
unimaginable is becoming a reality.
BY GEORGE I.
The solid-state phased array
radar system at Alaska’s
Clear Air Force Station is
approximately 11 stories tall.
Defense Advanced Research
Projects Agency (DARPA)
researchers are developing an
semiconductor that could
help reduce development and
upgrade times for phased
arrays while providing greater
situational awareness of the