Digital & Embedded Signal Processing

Group expertise

The Digital and Embedded Signal Processing group is concerned with the development of digital (sub) systems for radio astronomy applications. The required DESP competences are in the field of digital embedded signal processing: design and development of DSP systems, chip design, signal integrity studies, and algorithms and modelling.


The mid-term (4 years) and long-term (12 years) aim of the DESP Group is to develop advanced digital signal processing (DSP) systems for the next generation of radio telescopes. Having developed DSP systems for the LOFAR telescope in the Netherlands, our focus is on technological developments for the SKA telescope, to be built in 2016 and in full operation in 2024.

In the coming years, the processing and throughput capacity of new DESP DSP boards will increase at least as fast as the current DSP scaling laws. The figure below shows the achieved results up to now (RSP boards), and the design goals for the new boards. The scaling laws for signal processing capacity and network bandwidth have been included, taking the RSP prototype board in 2005 as a reference. The processing capacity of the Uniboard 2 in 2011/2012 will be up to 4 Tops.

Quinten system

One of the DSP systems currently considered is the Quinten system, to be built in the context of IDL/PrepSKA with APERTIF as a matching effort. The technological goal for the Quinten development is to increase the currently achieved 160 GMAC for the LOFAR Remote Station Processing (RSP) boards to 920 GMAC on a single board (figure 1). Moreover the input bandwidth will be increased from 30 Gbps to 160 Gbps. Quinten needs to be designed such that a number of applications can be mapped on this architecture. Amongst them are: enhanced LOFAR beamforming to generate more digital beams, a correlator for focal plane arrays in the Westerbork dishes and a demonstrator for a next generation JIVE correlator.


A second board considered is the Uniboard, to be built in the context of a RadioNet FP7 proposal. This board will provide up to 4 Tops on one single PCB board by placing as much state of the art FPGAs as is reasonably possible. The Uniboard will communicate with similar boards and the outer world using a large number of high-speed links, with protocols such as Ethernet. The aim is to create a multi-purpose re-programmable DSP board to be used for a range of radio astronomy DSP applications such as digital receivers and correlators.

Design: Kuenst.    Development: Dripl.    © 2014 ASTRON