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IP core to improve radio telescope performance

Signal processing specialist RFEL is supplying a HyperSpeed FFT IP core to the Arizona Radio Observatory (ARO) for use in a high performance radio astronomy spectrometer system. The core will play a central role in improving sideband separation in heterodyne receivers.

ARO operates two radio telescopes at millimetre wavelengths, covering seven atmospheric windows from 4mm to 0.4mm and enabling continuum and spectral line observations.

“Radio astronomy is a perfect example of how our expertise can provide solutions that cannot be found elsewhere,” claimed Dr Alex Kuhrt, RFEL's CEO. “Radio telescopes generate huge amounts of data that have to be processed without loss to extract signals. Our HyperSpeed FFT core is configured to match ARO’s demanding research needs, giving the throughput and performance required.”

According to RFEL, the device – which is clocked at 160MHz – performs a fixed length, 8192 point complex Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) with an internal complex data parallelism of 32.

Bit widths are manipulated to ensure mathematical precision is maintained. Convergent rounding will provide the lowest signal to noise ratio (SNR), but with potential structure to the noise. Statistical rounding, meanwhile, will result in a slightly higher SNR, but less structure.

Robert Freund, principal engineer at ARO principal engineer Robert Freund noted: “RFEL is expert at providing cutting edge solutions that push the boundaries, enabling more sensitive solutions.”

Graham Pitcher

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