A three-channel data acquisition system was developed for the NASA Multi-Frequency Radar (MFR) system. The system is based on a commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) industrial PC (personal computer) and two dual-channel 14-bit digital receiver cards. The decimated complex envelope representaions of the three radar signals are passed to the host PC via the PCI bus, and then processed in parallel by multiple cores of the PC CPU (central processing unit). The innovation is this parallelization of the radar data processing using multiple cores of a standard COTS multi-core CPU.

The data processing portion of the data acquisition software was built using autonomous program modules or threads, which can run simultaneously on different cores. A master program module calculates the optimal number of processing threads, launches them, and continually supplies each with data.

The benefit of this new parallel software architecture is that COTS PCs can be used to implement increasingly complex processing algorithms on an increasing number of radar range gates and data rates. As new PCs become available with higher numbers of CPU cores, the software will automatically utilize the additional computational capacity.

This work was done by Jonathan Leachman of ProSensing, Inc. for Glenn Research Center.

Inquiries concerning rights for the commercial use of this invention should be addressed to NASA Glenn Research Center, Innovative Partnerships Office, Attn: Steve Fedor, Mail Stop 4–8, 21000 Brookpark Road, Cleveland, Ohio 44135. Refer to LEW-18465-1.

NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the June, 2010 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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