Military reviews open standards

With the advent of lower-cost COTS products, military planners now are facing a new obstacle--the large number of hardware and software standards available to implement high-performance multiprocessors. Currently, the military is flexing its financial might with the introduction of the Navy`s Tactical Advanced Signal Processor (TASP) program, designed to unify hardware, software, and operating-system standards. Working with hardware vendors such as Alacron (Nashua, NH), CSPI (Billerica, MA), Sky

Military reviews open standards

With the advent of lower-cost COTS products, military planners now are facing a new obstacle--the large number of hardware and software standards available to implement high-performance multiprocessors. Currently, the military is flexing its financial might with the introduction of the Navy`s Tactical Advanced Signal Processor (TASP) program, designed to unify hardware, software, and operating-system standards. Working with hardware vendors such as Alacron (Nashua, NH), CSPI (Billerica, MA), Sky Computers (Chelmsford, MA), and Mercury Computers (Chelmsford, MA), the TASP program is designed to provide systems developers with common-operating-environment (COE) compliant digital-signal-processing subsystems, system controllers, and interfaces that can be integrated into land-based, surface, submarine, or aircraft weapon systems.

But the TASP program does not intend to define the COE from scratch. Rather, it intends to incorporate open standards wherever possible. According to Tim Singleton, Navy PMS-428, initial TASP products are expected to be based on the 6U VME standard. Currently, the high-speed bus is vendor-dependent and is implemented by a backbone daughterboard on the VME P2 or P0 connector.

To develop a standard signal-processing library, the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has set up the vector signal- and image-processing (VSIP) forum, which is defining a signal-processing library and a programming method for vector, signal, and image processing. According to David Schwartz at Hughes Research Laboratories (Malibu, CA), "For VSIP to be portable, the architecture of the underlying hardware must not be exposed. And, because there are many different types of digital-signal-processing hardware and memory architectures, hiding the architecture and writing efficient DSP code are difficult."

To solve this problem, the VSIP forum has proposed an application programming interface that will be common across all VSIP products. For information on VSIP, browse the Web site at www.vsip.org or contact David Schwartz at daschwartz@hrl.com.

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