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Fast forward to the past: NASA technologists test 'game-changing' data-processing technology
Date:11/27/2012

entally different from standard digital-signal processing, recognizing values between zero and one to accomplish what would otherwise be cost prohibitive or impossible with traditional digital circuits," Pellish said.

The processor's enhanced performance is due to the way the technology works, he explained. While digital systems use processors that step through calculations one at a time, in a serial fashion, the new processor uses electronic signals to represent probabilities rather than binary ones and zeros. It then effectively runs the calculations in parallel. Where it might take 500 transistors for a digital computer to calculate a probability, the new technology would take just a few. In other words, the microchip can perform a calculation more efficiently, with fewer circuits and less power than a digital processor attributes important for space- and power-constrained spacecraft instruments, Pellish said.

Although "there has been an overwhelming amount of positive support for the technology within Goddard" since Pellish began introducing colleagues to its capabilities, he is the first to concede that the technology isn't appropriate for all space applications.

Fast Fourier Transform

Because of its efficiency and inherent design, however, it's especially ideal for computing fast Fourier transforms (FFTs), and more particularly the discrete Fourier transform, a ubiquitously used mathematical algorithm in digital-signal processing. Among other things, Fourier transforms decompose signals into their constituent frequencies and are used to generate and filter cell-phone and Wi-Fi transmissions as well as compress audio, image and video files so that they take up less bandwidth.

Among other products, the company has developed an analog-based integrated circuit geared specifically for computing Fourier transforms. The team will use the technology, which the company donated, to assemble several custom circuit boar
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Contact: Lori Keesey
ljkeesey@comcast.net
301-258-0192
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Source:Eurekalert  

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