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Old 24th Aug 2010, 22:00
  #102 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: France
Posts: 2,319
Originally Posted by Landroger View Post
Cut tracks and wire links were the 'staff of life' and the stuff of nightmare. Our first minicomputers - to reconstruct the CT image - had 32 kilobytes of memory on four boards, each about 17" square!!
Not the autothrottle board in question, but one of the same size and technology.

You were already working with advanced stuff, Roger...
The notorious AICU (air intake control unit) had something like 2 kilobit RAM, and 42 512-bit PROMs on 5 boards. That's a grand total of 2688 bytes of program storage, look-up tables, etc.

My question, which is a bit of a tilt at windmills, is this; If you had to build Concorde all over again with the same airframe and engines, how much more room, how much lighter and how much more capable would the electronics be if they were made using the latest surface mount, Extremely High Density integrated circuits and microprocessors?
How much lighter?
I can only make a stab in the dark, but ... I would say (mentally totting up all the electronics boxes and weighing them) the electronics fit weighed in the order of a couple of tons (maybe somebody has a closer figure?). So on an aircraft of 185T TOW, even if you could bring that down to a quarter of that weight, you'd gain less than 1%.

How much more capable?
Concorde did fine, so what more capability do you want ?
Seriously, you would have a glass cockpit, which would make nav etc. easier.
And of course you would be able to get rid of the flight engineer and his panel, so that would be a few more hundred kilos.... beer and all.
Where an electronics update would make a difference would be in the amount of aircraft wiring. In the olden days, every single signal had its own bit of wire... now everything passes via digital 'buses', where dozens of signals are transmitted over a single twisted pair.

For the computer and electronics buffs among you : it's the difference between the old Centronics printer interface, where every signal has its own wire, and todays USB.

ChristiaanJ is offline