Emerging Technologies

RT PolarFire® radiation-tolerant FPGA achieves MIL-STD-883 Class B qualification, paving way for power-saving high-speed processing in space

Spaceflight system developers often commit to designing with new components only after they have received MIL-STD-883 Class B qualification and are in the process of meeting the Qualified Manufacturers List (QML) Class Q and Class V standards for spaceflight component reliability. Microchip Technology Inc. has now achieved the first qualification milestone with its RT PolarFire® FPGA, enabling designers to begin assembling spaceflight systems that take advantage of its superior computing and connectivity throughput, as well as its significantly lower power consumption and immunity to configuration Single Event Upsets (SEUs) as compared to SRAM-based FPGAs.

“Microchip is a QML-certified manufacturer of high-reliability FPGAs for space applications and has attained the highest available Class V qualification multiple times on FPGAs and other integrated circuits,” said Shakeel Peera, vice president of marketing for Microchip’s FPGA business unit. “This MIL-STD-883 class B qualification is yet another big step toward solving some of spaceflight’s most difficult system challenges, including reducing satellite signal processing congestion with much lower power consumption and greater reliability than is possible using alternative FPGA solutions. We have started the final step of qualifying our RT PolarFire FPGAs to both QML Class Q and Class V requirements.”

To achieve MIL-STD-883 Class B qualification, the RT PolarFire FPGAs passed a series of environmental tests to determine resistance to the deleterious effects of natural elements and conditions of defense and space operations, as well as mechanical and electrical tests. Passing these tests paves the way for QML Class Q and V qualification while demonstrating the RT PolarFire FPGAs’ reliability advantages in space. Their embedded configuration switches have been shown to be robust to > 100kRad of total ionizing dose radiation exposure, which makes them suitable for most earth-orbiting satellites and many deep-space missions. Unlike alternative solutions, the FPGAs do not exhibit any configuration upsets in radiation and therefore require no mitigation, reducing engineering expenses and bill of materials costs.

About the RT PolarFire FPGA Family

The RT PolarFire FPGA family brings Microchip’s 60 years of spaceflight heritage to a product line that delivers the necessary computing and connectivity throughput for modern space missions. The FPGAs consume up to 50 percent less power than SRAM-based alternatives while enabling on-orbit data processing systems to meet demanding performance requirements and operate reliably in the harsh radiation environment of space without excessive heat generation. Their unique combination of logic elements (LEs), embedded SRAM, DSP blocks and 12.7 Gbps transceiver lanes enables higher resolution for passive and active imaging, more channels and finer channel resolution for multi-spectral and hyper-spectral imaging, and more precise scientific measurements using noisy data from remote sources.

The RT PolarFire FPGAs can also be paired with one or more complementary Microchip solutions in today’s spaceflight systems, including its Ethernet PHY VSC8541RT, CAN interface USB-to-UART PHYs, clocks and oscillators from the company’s clock and timing solutions group, and power solutions from its analog power and interface group.

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