<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none;" alt="" src="https://px.ads.linkedin.com/collect/?pid=2960562&amp;fmt=gif">

Leading Geospatial Innovation In Partnership  with  HawkEye 360

Back in 2021, HawkEye 360—a leader in spectrum-based RF geoanalytics—approached Xiphos with a request: a system that could match its product development ambitions. HawkEye 360 had traditionally used a combination of third-party processors and its own SDRs to detect and analyze RF signals via satellite clusters. However, the third-party processors weren’t supplying the amount of processing power HawkEye 360 needed to continue innovating at the leading edge of the Geospatial industry.

At the time, Xiphos was involved in early development of the Q8 processor. Hearing this, HawkEye 360 was immediately interested. Through a symbiotic development process, Xiphos created a processing board that supplied HawkEye 360 with the capabilities it needed—and more. This collaboration resulted in an evolving series of Q-card processors that continue to revolutionize geospatial analytics.

Creating a Much-Needed Solution: the Q8 Processor

The Q8 is an extremely high-performance processor board based on the Xilinx Zynq UltraScale+ Multi-Processor System on a Chip (MPSoC), designed to conform to challenging size, weight, and power constraints. HawkEye 360 was instrumental in its development by providing Xiphos with requirements and specifications for the product and even investing in engineering models to speed along the process. HawkEye 360 mainly needed additional processing power and a larger Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA), but there were some other requirements as well.

Xiphos - Q8 B - photo

Specifically, one requirement was resilience. This was crucial to the project, given the need for reliable, long-lasting technology in satellite operations. The Q8’s robust design ensured that HawkEye 360’s satellites could operate seamlessly in the harsh environment of space. Another requirement was large amounts of logic and robust general-purpose computing that would allow for capturing and processing geospatial data

Over the course of development, HawkEye 360 worked hand-in-hand with Xiphos to refine the requirements of the Q8. The result was a highly reliable low SWaP computer-on-module (COM)—with advanced processing capabilities and a resilient design—for HawkEye 360’s payload. Used to taking risks and pushing the limits of the Geospatial industry, HawkEye 360 then became an early adopter of the Q8. As expected, the Q8 enabled a more powerful SDR and the ability to offer additional capabilities, such as increased data access and improved analysis. The Q8 is now HawkEye 360’s proven flight solution on 24 satellites since April 2021, with zero board failures.

Interested in learning more about Xiphos and HawkEye 360’s collaboration? Read our case study.

Expanding RF Capabilities: the Q8J

Encouraged by the success of the Q8, Xiphos decided to innovate further and create the Q8J. By fine-tuning the Q8, adding multi-Gigabit per second transceivers for JESD204B and PCIe interfaces, and enabling access to external DDR3 or DDR4 memory, Xiphos created a processing board that would enable the next generation of SDR and RF products.

Xiphos - Q8 J processor - photo

In comparison to the Q8, the Q8J offers even more capability, providing enhanced processing and RF abilities. Its additional multi-gigabit-per-second interfaces support newer generation RF transceiver products that bring with them wider bandwidth and higher performance. This was an off-the-shelf solution that Xiphos customized to match HawkEye 360’s needs. HawkEye 360 embraced the Q8J and developed a new SDR payload solution around it.

In fact, HawkEye 360 has recently launched six new satellites as part of the SpaceX Bandwagon-1 mission in April. Those upgraded satellites each included the Q8 and Q8J built into HawkEye 360’s next-generation SDRs. These processing cards have already proven pivotal in providing HawkEye 360’s satellites with longevity and reliability that are crucial to any space mission.

hawkeye's satellites on a table

Pushing Innovation Further: the Q8RF

The Q8RF is the latest in Xiphos’ evolving lineup of Q-card processors. Featuring the AMD Zynq® UltraScale+™ RFSoC, it includes 8 Receive and 8 Transmit channels for an unprecedented level of RF integration. In other words, companies like HawkEye 360 can now monitor more frequencies simultaneously using less hardware than ever.

The Q8RF was developed in close collaboration with HawkEye 360, which helped lock in the specs and requirements to power its next generation of satellites. This represents a major breakthrough for both Xiphos—which can now offer multi-RF channels, wider bandwidth, and higher processing power than ever —and HawkEye 360, which can now provide increased capabilities to its customers via a next-generation platform.

C8C9_Hero Hawkeye

Defining the Future of Geospatial Insights

Xiphos is already at work on processing solutions that will push the limits of geospatial insights further, and HawkEye 360 has already expressed an interest in being involved in the development of these products. Xiphos’ Q-cards and collaborative support have not only allowed HawkEye 360 to overcome project challenges and deliver a resilient satellite product—they’ve helped position the company as an industry leader at the edge of satellite technology. 

With today’s space operations requiring more complex algorithms on increasingly lower SWaP platforms, Xiphos’ Q-card processors represent an efficient, flight-proven solution. A leading provider of highly reliable space applications, we support clients like the Canadian Space Agency, NASA,  the European Space Agency, and a host of international commercial space companies in their LEO and lunar missions—providing solutions that are robust, high-performance, low SWaP, fault-tolerant, and cost-effective.


Stay in the loop

Keep up with the latest and greatest Xiphos news, product releases and innovations.