Nallatech designs reconfigurable video encryption system

NOVEMBER 11--The United Kingdom Ministry of Defence has contracted Nallatech (San Jose, CA; www.nallatech.com) to devise a cost-effective method for managing hardware obsolescence.

NOVEMBER 11--For the military, replacing obsolete components is a costly undertaking that requires a reverification of the entire system. The United Kingdom Ministry of Defence (MOD) contracted Nallatech (San Jose, CA; www.nallatech.com), a provider of high-performance FPGA systems, to devise a more cost-effective method for managing hardware obsolescence. Using Simulink and Xilinx System Generator for DSP, Nallatech designed a reconfigurable video encryption system that enables the MOD to reverify an entire system by updating components, customizing interfaces to those components, and performing validation at a subsystem level-without any knowledge of VHDL.

"Many of our customers do not have any experience with VHDL," says Malachy Devlin, chief technology officer at Nallatech. "Simulink is the first tool to get us out to the FPGAs without learning VHDL. There really isn't any other tool that is so comprehensive."

Using MathWorks tools, Nallatech engineers designed a reconfigurable video encryption system by creating two identical designs with different encryption cores. After creating the algorithms, the engineers debugged and integrated the core, formatted the video, and generated the VHDL for the FPGA.

"It was very easy to communicate our design using Simulink," says Denning. "It was also much quicker to produce the cores and check how everything worked visually rather than in VHDL." With Xilinx System Generator for DSP, Denning generated the VHDL to get the bitstream for the Xilinx Virtex-II FPGA. Using Nallatech's Xtreme DSP Kit, Denning mapped the system to the FPGA on a BenADDA module, housed on a BenONE motherboard. Video was transmitted over an analog-to-digital wireless link and fed back into the same FPGA for decryption.

The MOD is actively exploring ways to adopt this approach for future systems design.

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