This Report was presented to the Faculty of the Graduate School of the University of Texas at Austin in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of

Master of Science in Engineering


The Implementation of a Sonar Beamformer on the Cell Broadband Engine  


Thomas Higdon, M.S.E.

The University of Texas at Austin, May 2008


Supervisor: Brian L. Evans

Reader: Derek Chiou


Modern, high-resolution sonar systems have prohibitive data processing requirements. Sonar beamforming, in particular, has computing requirements that challenge even the latest offerings from industry. Therefore, advanced hardware and optimized software are necessary to satisfy the requirements of this application. A sonar beamformer implementation for a heterogeneous nine-core architecture, the Cell Broadband Engine, is described. The implementation leverages existing algorithms and techniques in a concurrent fashion to effectively utilize the power of the platform. The implementation exhibits performance of 38 GFlops, 25% of peak performance. The existing prototype, developed on a Sony PlayStation 3, readily outperforms an efficient implementation on an Intel Xeon platform, with a significant savings in cost, power, and space.

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For more information contact: Thomas Higdon <>