Testing High-Powered Signal Processing Systems for Harsh Environments: Case Study Part 2

Tactical aircraft can also subject onboard equipment to many shock and vibration extremes and these airborne platforms represent another example of a harsh environment that stretches the capabilities of COTS equipment. While shock and vibration play a major role in tactical aircraft, perhaps the biggest challenge for COTS signal processing equipment is cooling.

Scalable signal processing systems typically require a ready source of conditioned air for cooling. The amount of cooling required depends on the amount of processing power needed. Signal processing for the combined sensors on a tactical air-craft can require hundreds of GFLOPS in a system. For every 10 GFLOPS, contemporary processing designs consume around 30 Watts of power and require approximately 5 CFM of air at 30,000 feet. Thus, if a system of 300 GFLOPS used air-cooling at 30,000 feet, it would require a minimum of 150 CFM distributed evenly across all of the processors.

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