Next-Generation Microelectronics

An Emerging Opportunity in Next-Generation Custom Microelectronics

In September of this year, after a ten-year career in public sector defense industry positions – including serving as the Director for Electronic Warfare at the Department of Defense for almost four years – I switched tracks to the private sector, joining Mercury Systems as Chief Technology Officer. Mercury Systems is revolutionizing the intersection of technology and defense, advancing leading-edge capabilities to a microelectronics industry currently guided by two prevailing themes which together pose immense opportunity.

First, silicon manufacturing and technology are evolving at breakneck speed, which in keeping with Moore’s law have simultaneously driven advancements in computing performance and decreases in cost. To date, this innovation has been most apparent in the high-tech private sector, however there is tremendous opportunity to transfer this innovation over to the public sector and to make it defense-ready. At the same time, however, industry challenges and macro-level geopolitical trends have created an environment in which secure, trusted solutions are an undisputed imperative for U.S. government agencies and defense Primes.

I believe Mercury is uniquely positioned to address these challenges, and this is one of the reasons I joined the Company. Operating in the private sector and with a wealth of experience in electronics from chip level to system level , we have the expertise and ambition to drive real innovation in microelectronics. At the same time, our legacy in servicing the defense community, combined with our Defense Microelectronics Activity-accredited (DMEA) trusted secure manufacturing capabilities, puts us in a unique position as the only commercial industry player capable of serving as an ideal conduit for bringing trusted microelectronics innovation to the public sector.

An Industry at an Inflection Point

We’re excited to be sharing our optimism for the future of public sector microelectronics with the defense community and our peers at the 2019 AUSA Annual Meeting being held this week in Washington, D.C. We’re confident – based on prevailing trends and industry attitudes – that the industry is ripe and eager for change, and we’re excited to share our first step in bringing about that change.

A Bright Future

This week, we announced a $15 million capital investment to bring next-generation trusted commercial silicon technology to the defense community. This initiative represents one of the first commercial applications of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) Electronics Resurgence Initiative (ERI) and directly aligns with the ERI’s stated goal of “creating a more specialized, secure, and heavily automated electronics industry that serves the needs of both the domestic commercial and defense sectors.”

This announcement and our activities at AUSA’s Annual Meeting set the stage for a bright future in microelectronics for defense applications. We look forward to translating our investment into manufacturing and implementation, and to driving further progress and innovation that matters in microelectronics for the public and private sector.


Happy Birthday US Air Force

From all of us at Mercury Systems, happy 72nd birthday to the US Air Force. Originally established as the Signal Corps – the first aeronautical force in the US – during the Civil War, its missions focused on providing visional communications via flags and torchlight from aerial balloons. Since then, the military air service has gone through many names and commands including Air Service of the US Army, Air Corps, and Army Air Force. Finally, in 1947, President Truman signed the National Security Act establishing the United States Air Force as a separate branch of the military.

It’s focus on pursuing advanced technology and superior airmen established the USAF as the swiftest tactical force ready to deploy anywhere at a moment’s notice. #AirForceBirthday

AFA’s Air, Space & Cyber Conference took place in National Harbor, MD

During his keynote address today, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said,

“Some of our long-held advantages have started to diminish. Great power competition has once again returned to the global stage. If we are to remain the world’s pre-eminent military power, then we must change course away from the past and face the challenges of the future head on.”

Esper said his priorities include giving warfighters more of what they need to deter adversaries, fight and win, including a review of how the US is positioned around the globe. He stressed that the USAF needs to organize, train, and equip airmen to be prepared for a “full spectrum” of threats, both kinetic and non-kinetic, and in realms such as space and cyber in order to “balance the needs of today with the requirements of tomorrow.” 

Meanwhile, at Mercury’s booth, visitors had the opportunity to see firsthand how our solutions help solve the military’s toughest challenges including cyber, data security, secure processing, safety, testing, multi-domain, and SWaP. 

Our mission computing presentation demonstrated how we support multiple military branches. These highly-secure solutions are built on open architectures and standards with a focus on minimizing SWaP. The ASURRE-Stor® solid state drive, NanoSwitch® network switch, military-grade DDR Memory, and RESmini rackmount server were well received by all visitors.

The avionics podium in our booth featured the ROCK II flight safety-certifiable modular system optimized for C4ISR applications along with a FACE-compliant Ethernet routing device that provides high-speed networking for Apache helicopters. These are great examples of high-TRL products that deliver advanced commercial technologies to the battlefield. 

Our electronic warfare display was very popular, which is not surprising given all the interest in EW these days. We showcased the HD-Slim, a mobile high-density server that is used to protect against cyber threats and the RFM3101 digital transceiver that demonstrates how advanced microwave technology can be delivered in an open standard OpenVPX form factor, even for systems pushing the upper end of frequencies for EW applications. 

Finally, we demonstrated our Radar solutions pedigree with a new Radar Environment Simulator, the mmW seeker transceiver and the HSD6605 OpenVPX Xeon® server blade which represents the highest-performance embedded compute solution we have ever developed. Mercury is a technology leader when it comes to embedded Radar solutions and we wanted to demonstrate how we can bring commercial innovation, advanced security and artificial intelligence to such a compute-intensive application such as radar. 

It was a pleasure and honor to meet so many of our military personnel, to exchange information, and listen to their needs and ideas. We hope you enjoyed reading our reports from the AFA show floor, and we look forward to continuing to drive the competitive edge through innovation that matters.

News From The Floor

We are at the AFA 2019 Air, Space & Cyber Conference, where attendance appears to be significantly higher than last year, perhaps by as much as 20% or more. It’s impressive to see so many of our armed forces keenly interested in learning about defense technologies, and to see their willingness to provide input that may lead to even more powerful solutions.

One of the hottest topics at our booth is multi-domain operations – the ability to counter and defeat a near-peer adversary capable of contesting the US in all domains (air, land, maritime, space, and cyberspace) in both competition and armed conflict. The military professionals visiting our booth are interested in learning about Mercury’s investment in the technology needed for data fusion to enable multi-domain applications at the tactical edge.

AFA Mercury Booth -  multi-domain operations
Mercury Booth – Multi-domain operations discussion

For example, our solutions help unmanned surveillance aircraft take radar, SIGINT, location and visual sensor feeds, combine them into a comprehensive picture and quickly communicate that to ground forces.

To achieve this, we integrate the latest commercial technology innovations into rugged subsystems that can perform and survive in challenging defense environments. Our solutions include AESA radar processing for fighter jets, rackmount cloud servers for ships and submarines, and mobile EW subsystems for ground vehicles. To learn more, read our white paper, Next Generation Integrated Defense Electronics Manufacturing – Deploying innovation at the speed of technology.

This morning, we hosted a breakfast for the industry’s leading trade and business media. In addition to one-on-one discussions, our guests enjoyed a lively roundtable discussion with Mercury’s Senior Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer Stephanie Georges, Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer Didier Thibaud, and Mercury Board Member Lisa Disbrow. A key take-away was that multi-domain operations is an important focus for the Air Force and virtually every other branch of the military.  

Many vendors this year are touting open architecture systems, which is a high priority for the DoD. Mercury has always been a pioneer in open standards, leading the adoption of the OpenVPX system standard for embedded computing as an example. This leadership helped establish a robust ecosystem of technology providers which, when taken as a whole, has begun to reduce internal R&D costs and force better cost certainty within the prime contractor base and in the DoD itself. Today, there is better interoperability, cost certainty, risk mitigation, affordability, and technology innovation in part because of the rise and adoption of the OpenVPX standard.  

As our COO, Didier Thibaud explained to one visitor to our booth,

Mercury sees open standards as a path to standardizing embedded computing within defense electronics. We are now working with the industry on the Sensor Open System Architecture (SOSA) initiative, a collaborative effort with the DoD to define a modular architecture that aims to deliver significant improvements in affordability, interoperability and reduced time to market all while maintaining the performance and reliability for mission-critical applications.

Our recently announced EnterpriseSeries™ RES Aero rugged rackmount server product line captured the attention of our customers and military personnel alike. This unique solution delivers enterprise-class data center-caliber processing to compute-intensive airborne applications and is well-suited to mission computing and sensor processing applications. Its completely fanless design enables optimal performance at high altitudes, while a specialized power supply is tailored to aircraft requirements. The new RES Aero line offers a wide variety of benefits, including improved reliability, tailor-made high-speed processing, and proven performance. The RES Aero 1U server is on display this week at our booth, #126.

We’ll continue to report from the show floor. Look for our next installment tomorrow!

Expanding the Competitive Edge

The AFA 2019 Air, Space & Cyber Conference is in full swing and we will be bringing you the latest news every day. 

This year’s conference theme is “Expanding the Competitive Edge.”  AFA Executive Vice President and retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Douglas Raaberg noted that companies who are expanding the competitive edge are looking beyond the horizon and helping the industry think innovatively, creatively, and specifically to the future.

AFa Conference Floor
AFA 2019 Air, Space & Cyber Conference

Richard Branson, the Virgin Group founder, billionaire businessman, and space entrepreneur kicked off the conference today with a keynote address on thinking outside the box.

Branson talked about his goal for Virgin Galactic, which is to make space accessible in a way that has only been dreamed about previously, and in doing so bringing positive change to life on Earth. Their new space port in New Mexico will be among the first to offer commercial space travel.

Branson also discussed their work with Virgin Orbit and announced that it will launch a small satellite from Guam for the Air Force in the next few months using a rocket carried by a 747 aircraft. The Guam launch would be the first Air Force launch for Virgin, via its US subsidiary VOX, under DoD’s Space Test Program. 

This test is a vital step forward in Virgin Orbit’s plan to perfect the ability to replace downed low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellites in a day or less—a capability that could make satellites less desirable targets of cyberattacks. Branson said that this capability can also make networks more reliable by eliminating the need for network disruptions when LEO satellites fail.

When asked how he continues to expand the competitive edge for his companies, he said,

“My attitude in life is giving everything I have to solve a problem. I get enormous satisfaction trying to achieve something that has never been achieved before.”

At Mercury’s booth #126, our team will talk about how we are focused on solving tough computing challenges, from secure AI-enabled processing solutions to safety-certified avionics subsystems, and more. We are talking to airmen coming directly from real-world operations as well as to defense companies looking for innovative approaches. The exchange of ideas and joining of creative minds gives us the opportunity to develop more advanced solutions that meet the needs of warfighters today and into the future. Like Branson, we too are driven to give our all for our customers to help them solve their toughest challenges. 

AFA Conference - Mercury solving thoughest challenges
What are your toughest challenges?
Bring them to Booth #126

Check back with us tomorrow. There is a lot going on and we’ll be bringing you another update from the show floor.

Growing and Grateful

By: Emma Woodthorpe

Last week we celebrated another milestone at Mercury when Boston Business Journal named us one of the “Fastest-Growing Public Companies in Massachusetts.” Earlier this year, we ranked No. 27 on Fortune Magazine’s “100 Fasted Growing Companies in 2018” list. It’s worth noting that we’re the only aerospace and defense company to receive either of these accolades. And just this week, we made the “Top 100” list compiled by Defense News, which identifies the world’s biggest defense companies.

As I reflect on how far we’ve come in just a few short years ago, it’s both exhilarating and humbling. We often chide ourselves for being results driven, but our ability to achieve four straight years of double digit revenue growth, which has taken us from a $350 million company, when I joined three years ago, to almost double that today, is nothing short of amazing.

As I reflect on Mercury’s many accomplishments, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a few of the unique factors that have contributed to our remarkable growth and success:

  • We’re fortunate to be in a market that is growing
  • Our culture and values are foundational to who we are and why we win in the market
  • We have an incredible team that drives our vision and works to achieve ambitious goals
  • Our employees embody the scrappy mentality of a start-up despite our continued growth

I am proud of the team we have created and all that we continue to achieve. I am also incredibly thankful for the dedication and hard work of our team members. Mercury has a bright future thanks to all of them!

We believe our hyper-growth is proof positive that there has never been a more exciting time to be a part of Mercury. And in fact, we just hired our 1,665th employee this week! Interested in joining our team? Check out our Career Site to learn more about the opportunities that exist at Mercury.

#PAS19 Day Three: The Right Flight Stuff

It’s Day Three of PAS 2019 and we were fortunate to spent some time down on the flight line with the skilled pilots of aircraft such as the F-35 and the KC-46, who were excited to pose for photos with fellow flying enthusiasts.

These pilots have the Right Stuff: they have honed their tactical training flight skills for thousands of hours in order to do their jobs to ensure our safety and security. When you see them in action— the Boeing A350, behemoth that it is, flying in what seems like slow motion without falling straight out of the sky or the F-22 flying low and faster than the speed of sound, then up so high it seems it will touch the sun and back down in a nose-dive spiral—you can sense, if only vicariously, that these pilots are consummate professionals.

But these aviators are the first to tell you that they are only part of a larger team: they need their mechanics, their flight engineers, and their ground crew in order to fly these exquisite machines. Mercury is part of this larger team as well.

The Mercury team’s commitment to safety, innovation, agility and security delivers the Right Stuff to these pilots, mechanisms, engineers, and crews that allows them to practice their skills and to maximize the potential of their aircraft in order to accomplish their missions. We salute them.

#PAS19 Day Two: Agility and Mobility

We’ve just wrapped Day Two at the Paris Air Show and much like the latest Parisian fashions, “agility” and “mobility” are all the rage. Today’s climate demands our collection of offerings is versatile,  runway-ready, with the ability to adjust on the fly, literally.

In this video Philippe Weber, Sr. Director, International Sales at Mercury explains how our RES series rackmount servers provide the latest in battle management resiliency and thrives in handling multi-domain combat operations. RES Mini fits in a brief case and is smaller and lighter than a carry-on.  Completely modular and composable. If that isn’t pret-a-porter, we’re not sure what is.

#PAS19: Cleared for Takeoff!

Day one of the Paris Air Show is in the books and it was all systems go. Our stand was packed with our product displays and partners from Daedalean attracting a crowd. Watch this short video of Daedalean’s Boris Videnov talking through their demo and you’ll see why.

The floor was overflowing and full of energy, and we at Mercury had our fair share of the action. Over the course of the day, we hosted over 30 of our valued customers and even scored a visit from Italy’s the Prime Minister , Giuseppe Conte! Other notables included: the AIA Roundtable with Ellen Lord conversations with Acting Air Force Secretary, Matthew Donovan and a meeting with Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Dr. Will Roper. We even ran into  President  Macron.

President Macron

Tomorrow will be another full day. Stay tuned as we share some of the technology highlights from the floor!

Assured Signal Integrity in stacked, high-speed DDR4 and DDR5 memory

Edge processing architectures in today’s autonomous and AI military systems, process an ever growing amount of sensor data. Many of these systems or devices used for edge processing applications in forward-deployed environments need to be small, rugged and agile.  To handle this extreme workload, system architects must design boards using the fastest field-programmable gate array (FPGA) devices and multicore processors. These devices cannot provide peak performance without massive amounts of high-speed DDR4 memory for resident data and real-time execution.  Faced with additional challenges, the system architect must design these systems to meet the size, weight and power (SWaP) constraints of smaller, more agile edge processing platforms integral to our warfighters’ mission success.   To support the system requirements, each embedded board within the system could need a minimum of 64GB of memory per processor, equating to more than 128 separate commercial-grade memory devices or multiple dual inline memory modules (DIMM), for layout on a printed circuit board. This is not a feasible solution for the embedded boards at the core of ultra-compact edge processing architectures in military systems operating in harsh, forward-deployed environments. Instead, high-density, military-grade memory manufactured with state-of-the-art 3D packaging technology must be utilized for space and power savings, while maintaining reliability in harsh environments. 

Read More

#PAS19: Forklifts and Nail Guns and Drills, Oh My!

Paris Air Show - yellow and orange safety vests
Paris Air Show 2019 – Arriving on the Scene

Arriving on the scene at le Bourget today, was akin to being immersed in the first sketch of a pointillist painting dotted with “hi-vis” yellow and orange safety vests. Those wearing them are the smart, safety-conscious people who are working to get the 53rd International Paris Air Show ready for launch (pun intended). It doesn’t look like much now (truthfully, we’re struggling to fathom how it will all come together in time), but by Monday, thanks to the long days and all-nighters of talented carpenters, electricians, plumbers, heavy equipment operators, IT/AV professionals, security and law enforcement officers, among many others, it will be spectacular, fully realized Seurat of 142,000 professionals blending together to create their own Sunday Afternoon at Le Bourget.

Our exhibition space (Hall 4, stand B41) will be host to myriad flight-safety assurance offerings including the ROCK-2 mission computing platform, as well as our esteemed Mercury ground team, nine GIFAS delegations and in our conference room, upward of 50 meetings with both existing and prospective customers and partners. Stay tuned for daily updates and a vlog or two so you can share in the action of the Mercury stand!