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Proceedings of the Symposium on Progress in Data Processing and Analysis

A low-cost image processing system on a 32-bit RISC
Mulder N.J., H.R. Kostwinder and LJ. Blesius
ITC, Image Processing Lab
P.O. Box 6, 7500 AA Enschede
The Netherlands
A recent proof-of-concept system addresses the problem of the use of one
workstation for the digital treatment of small format photographs, analog maps and
satellite data. It is called Alexander in recognition of A. von Humboldt, one of the
fathers of modern physical geography. Improvements in technology, especially in
the areas of reduced instruction set computers (RISC) and video frame grabbers,
have led to a breakthrough in the price/performance ratio. Alexander runs on the
Archimedes, a 32-bit RISC microcomputer. Depending on the configuration, the
hardware of the described system costs in the order of US$ 2500 to US$ 5000
including the 32-bit RISC processor. This sort of development means that ITC
offers all students in remote sensing programmes access to a network of powerful
workstations and a much higher likelihood of using digital equipment in their home
countries than in the past when the costs were too high.
KEYWORDS: Alexander, Archimedes, education, GIS, network, remote sensing, RISC, user
1. Introduction
Remote sensing techniques and geographic
information systems are receiving an increa
sing attention, not only in the earth science
community, but also among other groups.
This is reflected in recent efforts to promote
these methods with special consideration of
development in Third World countries,
environmental monitoring, as well as urban
and regional planning.
Numerous satellites already provide data in a
variety of spatial and spectral resolutions.
Meteosat. NOAA, Landsat and SPOT images
are used for climatologic or environmental
purposes in an operational environment. They
will be supplemented by new generations of
satellites, such as ERS1, which will provide
new sources of information. The digital format
of the data has fostered the use of computers
for processing the images. Digital image
processing techniques have evolved gradually
from statistical classification to structural pat
tern recognition.
Parallel to the developments in remote sen
sing, geographic information systems have
become a major tool. The integration of
remote sensing and GIS will improve image
processing efficiency and is being investi
gated at various research levels.
One of ITC’s biggest assets is the expertise of
the staff in various application fields. The
educational programmes provide not just
technology transfer but also knowledge trans
fer. Most ITC students come from developing
Paper presented at the ISPRS Commission II Symposium in Dresden on 8-12 September 1990