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New chip provides unjammable communications

Posted on 15th March 2016 at 10:28am

Battlefields are becoming increasingly digital, which increases the threat of jammed communications. To help devices overcome this threat, DARPA has created a chip that can convert analogue signals to digitals signals so quickly that radio-frequency attacks are no longer an issue.

The new ADC would give responders and government forces increased situational awareness (3ddock / 123rf)

This new analogue-to-digital converter (ADC) minimises the threat of jamming or other problematic signals by allowing devices to process portions of the electromagnetic spectrum ten times faster than current jamming and anti-jamming equipment. It is able to sample and digitise signals at a rate of over 60 billion operations per second, and detect and analyse any signal at 30 GHz or below. This will allow devices to operate in congested spectrum bands and react more rapidly to spectrum-based threats.

Although this new ADC reflects an important advance in electronic warfare capabilities for the United States, the device has some downsides that will need to be addressed in future improvements. DARPA’s ADC requires an extremely large amount of power and processing speed to operate, which means that it is not currently portable. However, DARPA is working with GlobalFoundries to change this. It hopes to build similar chips using 14-nanometer processes to increase efficiency by as much as 50 per cent.

With the help of this new ADC, responders and government forces will have increased situational awareness in areas with active warfare.

By Megan Mantaro, and Ian Portelli

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