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GEC’s Marconi Radar Systems is taking its 10Mflops XN-10 digital signal processor to the civilian field for sonar, seismic research, speech and image processing and telecommunications applications. The XN-10 has been used for some two years in the military field for over-the-horizon radars. Professor Gerry Kane of the Polytechnic of Central London is already using the product to research digital video and audio. Marconi will sell the 32-bit bit-slice processor through VME-board distributor Microsystem Services Ltd of High Wycombe both in the UK and overseas. It is a VLSI, stand-alone VMEbus computer, comprising a 10MHz 68000 host computer, combined with the on-board bit-slice array processor. It uses a real-time asynchronous buffered data input-output bus, enabling data to enter the triple ported memory board at 10MHz with no loading on the VMEbus. The product was designed for combined accuracy and number crunching operations to cope with radar clutter – and no doubt would have been a key component of the Nimrod radar. For people who want to build a signal processing workstation, the product includes drivers for graphics, disk drive and a real-time clock. The basic configuration consists of one processor, one EPROM and static RAM memory board, connected by a local 40Mbps data bus with 63 resident sector, complex and matrix data sets and a built-in software development system. In this way a combination of data transfer by buffered switching and macro-level vector processing, pipelining and tightly-coupled concurrent processing between local host and array processor is achieved. A sustained 10Mflops processing speed is possible with concurrent data transfer. Up to three processors can be connected to any one XN-10 and so on ad infinitum so that multiple board configuration for Gigaflop speeds are possible. The XN-10 in single quantities costs UKP15,500, and both Marconi and Microsystem Services Ltd have them available ex-stock.

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