Raytheon computer to play key role in finding tunnels and landmines

The world’s first computer to switch its form of architecture depending on the application will process data in a sensor Raytheon Company is building to detect and locate buried land mines and tunnels.
According to Nick Uros, vice president for Raytheon’s Advanced Concepts and Technology group, the Morphable Networked Micro-architecture device will perform superbly in the role because of massive computing resources that can be used simultaneously to process data rapidly. Other advantages are a capacity for a large volume of data and efficient use of energy.
“Our MONARCH chip (pictured) offers superior processing performance,” Uros said. “It will ingest a vast amount of data from our sensor and process it with outstanding energy efficiency.”

Many processors have greater computing power but use too much energy or can’t accommodate enough data for this purpose, he said. Consequently, a condition known as input-output data starvation becomes a problem.
“That won’t happen with MONARCH because of its balanced architecture,” Uros said.

Raytheon will use the MONARCH-equipped sensor on the Seismic and Acoustic Vibration Imaging programme, administered by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

The company is developing a sensor that will employ laser radar to find hidden targets by measuring ground-surface vibration. Algorithms (electronic instructions for calculation and processing) situated on the MONARCH chip and requiring substantial processing throughput will interpret the resulting data.

The chip was unveiled in March 2007 and had been designed by Raytheon and the University of South California`s Information Sciences Institute in conjunction with the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency.
A report in Physorg.com notes that John Granacki, one of the chip`s designers, said at the time that what his team had created was “essentially a supercomputer on a chip… and not just a supercomputer, but a flexible supercomputer reconfigures itself into the optimal supercomputer for each specific part of a multi-part task.”
This flexibility means MONARCH allows a significant reduction of the amount of hardware (and therefore power) required for computing systems, while still achieving extremely high (teraflop) throughput.
Because of the memory integrated on the chip, very small systems may be implemented with only a single MONARCH device.
For larger implementations, hardware demand is further reduced by MONARCH’s ability to “morph” devices to so they can perform downstream tasks instead of sitting idle while waiting for fresh input, Physorg.com added.