inexpensively into 32-nanometer and 14-nanometer semiconductors. “The added digital transistors enable precise
compensation for the imperfections that inherently exist
in the analog portions of the ADC,” Olsson adds.
Furthermore, transistor performance has improved.
“That allows us, with lower energy, to be able to sample
a much larger bandwidth of RF spectrum. When you put
those things together—better transistor performance,
more transistors for calibration and new architectures of
massive time interweaving enabled by the underlying integrated circuit technology—those are the things that really
make this type of data converter possible,” the program
Overall, the ACT program aims to shorten design
cycles and updates for arrays and push past the traditional barriers that lead to 10-year development cycles,
20- to 30-year static life cycles and costly service-life
extension programs. Researchers intend to develop a
digitally interconnected building block from which
larger systems could be formed. The desired building
block will be composed from a common module and
with a reconfigurable electromagnetic interface, making
it scalable and customizable for each application without
requiring a full redesign.
“The ACT program is really about building common
hardware that can be reused across many different RF
systems. That will allow us to share the development cost
and reduce the time frame ... so that the department can
upgrade its hardware [just as] Apple upgrades the hardware
in its iPhone every couple of years, rather than it being a
10-year development and upgrade cycle,” Olsson adds.
Program officials estimate that developing a new phased
array—and upgrading it when necessary—will take about
half the time it does today. Cost savings could vary substantially, but Olsson estimates that the cost of hardware
upgrades also could be halved. “What we’re trying to do is
to make systems more modular so that we can put in specific components as they are upgraded, and we’re trying to
make them more digital so that software and firmware can
also add new capabilities,” he says.
contact: George I. Seffers, email@example.com