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New chip helps communications and electronic warfare radio systems adapt in nanoseconds

The MATRICs chip was developed as part of DARPA's Adaptive RF Technology program.
MATRICs is an RF toolbox on a chip.

To address the need for radio systems that can adapt to changing environments on the fly and that can be easily reconfigured once they’re in the field, our engineers have developed the innovative MATRICs (Microwave Array Technology for Reconfigurable Integrated Circuits) chip. MATRICs helps address the future requirements of communications, electronic warfare, and signal intelligence systems. The new, general-purpose chip enables engineers to develop customized radio systems without the need for application-specific chips that are expensive and time consuming to develop.

MATRICs was developed and matured with funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), as part of its Adaptive RF Technology program. The ART program aims to advance the hardware used in radios that can reconfigure themselves under a range of environmental and operating conditions.

Because MATRICs operates over a very wide spectrum of radio signals, systems based on this chip can benefit from reduced size, weight, and power (SWaP) without the long development cycles and expensive engineering costs typically associated with customized chips. The reduced SWaP of the MATRICs chip makes it ideal for critical applications including unmanned aerial platforms and man-portable radios, where light weight and low power are at a premium. The MATRICs chip also lets engineers create rapid prototypes and working systems that can be fielded faster and that can accelerate the speed of delivery for new technology.

“MATRICs is a radio frequency toolbox on a chip,” said Greg Flewelling, a senior principal engineer at BAE Systems. “It covers a broad range of radio waveforms so that many different types of systems can be designed around it, including ones that need wide spectrum awareness and adaptability to dynamic and challenging signal environments.”

The speed of delivery from concept to the field is a critical component of the U.S. Department of Defense’s Third Offset Strategy, which has created a demand for agile systems that can efficiently address changing conditions in real-time as new advanced technologies emerge. The DoD strategy also focuses on the need for accelerated development and the rapid fielding of new technology by modifying existing systems, concepts that are at the core of MATRICs’ flexible design.

Learn more about BAE Systems’ cognitive RF processing technology.

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