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Technologies for responding to rapid developments in cognitive RF and EW

Cognitive processing and the constant need for more bandwidth is significantly driving up the performance requirements of radar and EW processing subsystems, while the availability of size, weight, and power is being driven down. Here, we describe the diverse technologies that can be used to address those challenges.



Abaco offers unsurpassed solutions for electronic warfare – unsurpassed because they are:

Powerful | Flexible | Modular | Secure | Simple | Proven

And: they’re backed by a company with over 30 years’ experience in delivering leading edge rugged solutions to all the defense industry’s most prominent organizations.




Across the entire Abaco product range, we’re committed to being first to bringing the latest, highest-performance technologies to our customers.


Whether it's processors from Intel, GPUs from NVIDIA or FPGAs or RFSoC devices from Xilinx, we know our customers expect us to lead. Examples include the 7th generation Intel Xeon processor on our XVR19 single board computer, or the Xilinx RFSoC technology on our VP430 direct RF system for 3U VPX, our solutions for electronic warfare can be relied on to deliver leading edge capability.

How do you maintain the latest technology in deployed systems?

The optimum electronic warfare solutions rely on one or more silicon technologies, either individually or in combination. Each – general purpose processors, graphics processing units, FPGAs, D/A converters, A/D converters, analog components – evolves separately, at its own rhythm.

Abaco electronic warfare solutions are designed to enable each of these elements to be individually upgraded as and when new levels of performance and functionality become available, without the need for system re-design.




Abaco’s product range is acknowledged as being among the widest – if not the widest – in the industry.


From single board computers, multiprocessors and graphics boards through digital signal processors to complete, pre-integrated mission ready systems, our customers have an almost unlimited ability to choose the optimum component set for their specific application. We offer all the advantages of COTS solutions – with the customisability of in-house development.

And: we’re technology-agnostic. Whether your application needs general purpose processors, GPUs or FPGAs – you can choose or combine them for the optimum solution. And, because all of our solutions adhere rigorously to open architecture industry standards, interoperability is a given.

How do you mitigate the pain of integration?

Each of the key technologies in an electronic warfare subsystem is widely available from a broad set of vendors. However: for many such subsystems, the requirement is to integrate more than one of those technologies. Integrating technologies from different vendors can be highly challenging.

Abaco uniquely offers the full range of silicon technologies required for the majority of electronic warfare applications, including advanced I/O, RF, and DSP products designed using standard interfaces to work together with fully featured board support packages – thus minimizing the difficulty of integration.

Beyond this, a key requirement for system integrators is the ability to get up and running quickly with firmware and software, together with the ability to control and optimize system IP when required. The Abaco BSP is open and flexible, giving designers the ability to customize software and firmware that meets their requirements while keeping their mission critical IP protected. Our reference software and firmware is provided open source, giving customers ultimate flexibility.



Every electronic warfare system is different – especially when it comes to RF and DSP requirements.


Abaco’s range of FPGA mezzanine cards is extensive: whatever you need, we can almost certainly provide to meet the unique analog, DSP, and software requirements of the application. Modular I/O built on open standard interfaces such as FMC and MMS gives you the ability to select the right I/O for the application – and keeps your options open for the future. And if that’s not enough: our innovative MMS I/O range provides the ultimate in I/O modularity.

How can you enable me to minimize latency?

Electronic warfare systems often leverage Digital Radio Frequency Memory (DRFM) systems. A DRFM operates by receiving a threat transmission, recording that signal to memory, modifying, and repeating that transmission with some DSP technique. An effective DRFM does this entire operation very quickly, with times measured in nanoseconds.

Achieving minimum latency is a significant pain point. Often, system latency is dominated by the analog interface devices (ADCs, DACs). Modern ADCs and DACs can come with either parallel or serial interfaces with parallel interfaces based on LVDS signals preferred for EW applications due to their lower latency.

Abaco’s electronic warfare I/O is built on modular FPGA Mezzanine Cards, defined by VITA 57.1/57.4 standards, as well as monolithic FPGA I/O boards. We offer over 20 options for LVDS FMC/FMC+ cards, giving customers the ability to match their specific I/O need to a specific module, together with the ability to optimize analog performance and maintain an extremely low latency.

A popular card for wide-band, low-latency EW is the FMC170 with up to a 5GHz sample rate, all with low latency LVDS digital interfaces with the ability to achieve 2.2 GHz of analog bandwidth with end-to-end latency well under 100ns.



We know that our customers want to integrate their own application IP - such as specific algorithms to counter a classified threat.


They look to us to build systems with security in mind – to provide the foundations on which a truly secure system can be built. That’s why our SBCs routinely include features designed to assist with user-defined Anti-Tamper and Information Assurance strategies; an inherently secure FPGA solution (SmartFusion2 from Microsemi); and support for Intel’s Trusted Execution Technology. Similarly, our DSP solutions leverage many of the security features provided by Xilinx such as encrypted IP and Anti-Tamper.

How can you help me maximize security?

In electronic warfare applications, safeguarding against tampering and IP compromise is of utmost importance. Often, EW systems carry highly classified and sensitive IP that must be protected at all costs from capture by the enemy. IP security can be a significant pain point as EW systems can have multiple technology elements that must be secured differently, from FPGA bit-streams to operating system boot images. Securing each critical IP component properly can be a significant challenge.

Abaco is ready to meet the security needs for real world deployed EW; from trusted boot to support for multiple independent levels of security (MILS) operating systems, Secure Hypervisor, middleware products, encrypted FPGA bit streams as well as the many security features enabled by our partners such as Xilinx. We work to partner with our customers to provide the right guidance on securing mission critical IP on Abaco products.



Time-to-deployment and cost minimization are key factors in any planned deployment.


That’s why we focus on making our solutions as simple as possible for customers to build their application on top of our boards. We provide extensive support for GPU technology, with its ease of programming in C/C++. In addition, highly flexible board support packages with flexible software/firmware reference examples and development tools enable designers to integrate their mission-specific and often classified IP easily - getting from prototype to deployment as fast as possible and at minimum cost.

Can’t find what you’re looking for? Need help?

Head on over to our support pages, where you’ll find key contacts, how to obtain documentation, information on warranty and repairs, contract samples, details of our Product Lifecycle Management and Configuration Management programs – and much more.