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Abaco Systems has won an order from a major European astrophysics research institute that will see its range of innovative hardware platforms deployed at the heart of a new radio telescope system. Lifetime value to Abaco is estimated at $1.725 million (€1.46 million).

While Abaco is primarily associated with providing high performance solutions to the defence market, the number of markets that can leverage the broad range of our unique capabilities is much wider,” offered John Muller, the company’s Chief Growth Officer. “That includes commercial, industrial, transportation, energy exploration and many more industries that need rugged reliability allied with leading edge performance. That’s particularly the case where the requirement is for sophisticated signal processing and analogue-to-digital conversion – as with this application.”

The institute is active in a range of research activities, as well as the development of instrumentation for observations of the universe. Specifically, it has developed several radio telescopes, including the advanced electronic digital platforms which play a key role in the processing of significant amounts of data. Observation of the universe has become an increasingly demanding application, driving the need to retrofit radio telescopes with receivers supporting higher bandwidth, a higher number of channels and more powerful backends. The customer turned to Abaco for the company’s unique ability to meet all the requirements of the backend processing system.

The innovative, high-performance backend is equipped with Abaco’s boards and is designed to be modular, flexible and scalable. The backend comprises two subsystems, each featuring a 3U VXP SBC329 single board computer, four VP430 Direct RF Processing Systems, two VP881 3U VPX FPGA cards and two FMC424 dual QSFP+ FPGA mezzanine cards, together with a PEX431 multi-fabric switch. It is capable of analysing up to 64 radio signals simultaneously, with bandwidth up to 2GHz.

The research institute has been appointed by the Collaboration for Astronomy Signal Processing and Electronics Research (CASPER) to design a software platform for astronomy applications targeting the backend system built with Abaco’s solution. The innovative and scalable back-end system is destined to find a substantial international market.

The SBC329 rugged single board computer features the-high performance Intel XEON E3-1505M or E3-1505L v6 (quad core), operating at 3.0GHz base frequency, up to 4.0GHz TurboBoost. With up to 16GBytes of soldered ECC memory, it includes the SmartFusion2 FPGA with advanced security features.

The VP430 is an RFSoC board featuring the all new Xilinx ZU27DR RF system-on-chip (RFSoC) technology. It is also one of the densest analogue FPGA DSP boards available, with eight ADC channels operating at 4GSPS and eight DAC synchronised channels operating at 6.4GSPS. It also features a user-programmable FPGA fabric and a multi-core Zynq ARM processing subsystem.

The VP881 is a high-performance FPGA processing and FMC carrier board featuring Xilinx Ultrascale and Zynq Ultrascale+ technology. It is combined with the FMC424 dual QSFP+ card. The PEX431 multi-fabric switch and XMC carrier card allow designers to build complex VPX systems.


The SBC329 rugged single board computer lies at the heart of the hardware destined for the new radio telescope. (Photo: Abaco Systems)

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