Spaceflight systems developers typically make the decision to design using new components only when they have achieved MIL-STD-883 class B qualification and are currently satisfying standards for Qualified Manufacturers List (QML) Class Q and Class V requirements for the reliability of spacecraft components. Microchip Technology Inc. (Nasdaq: MCHHP)has now achieved the first milestone in qualification with their PolarFire(r) PolarFire(r) FPGA that allows designers to begin creating spaceflight systems taking benefit of the FPGA’s superior connectivity and computing throughput as well as its much less power consumption and resistance to single event upsets (SEUs) as compared with 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,” stated Shakeel Peera, vice-president of marketing at Microchip’s FPGA business division. “This MIL-STD-883 classification B qualification is yet another major move towards solving the most challenging spaceflight system issues, such as the reduction of satellite signal processing congest with a lower power consumption and higher reliability than achievable with alternative FPGA solutions. We are in the final process of certifying for our RT PolarFire FPGAs in QML Class Q and Class V requirements.”
To obtain MIL-STD-883 Class B certification, RT PolarFire FPGAs passed several environmental tests that test the resistance to negative impacts of natural elements, the requirements of space and defense operations as well as mechanical and electrical tests. The passing of these tests opens the way to QML Classes Q as well as V accreditation and demonstrates the advantages of reliability from RT PolarFire FPGAs for space. The integrated settings switches are proven to be resistant to more than 100 krads of total radiation exposure and is suitable for the majority of earth-orbiting satellites as well as numerous deep space mission. In contrast to other options, FPGAs are not prone to radiation-related configuration issues and, therefore, do not require mitigation, thus reducing engineering costs and the cost of bill of material.
About the RT PolarFire FPGA Family
This RT PolarFire FPGA family brings Microchip’s 60-year space-based experience to a product line that offers the essential connectivity and computing throughput required for the modern space mission. These FPGAs use up to 50% less power than other SRAM-based options and enable on-orbit data processing systems that can meet the most demanding requirements for performance and reliability with minimal heat production in the extreme radiation environment of space. The distinctive mixture consisting of Logic Elements (LEs), embedded SRAM, DSP blocks and 12.7 Gbps transceiver lanes enables greater resolution for passive and active imaging, as well as more channels, and a higher resolution for hyper-spectral and multi-spectral imaging, as well as more precise scientific measurements by using noisy data from distant sources.
These RT PolarFire FPGAs may also be integrated to one of the of the complementary Microchip solutions that are currently used in spaceflight technology, such as the Ethernet PHY VSC8541RT and CAN interface USB-to-UART clocks, oscillators and clocks that are part of Microchip’s time and clock division, as well as Power solutions for its interfaces and analog power groups.
Microchip’s RT PolarFire FPGA that supports MIL-STD-883 Class-B screening features is now available for production in quantities of hermetically-sealed ceramic packaging with a land grid as well as columns that can be soldered to terminate. Manufacturers that have already adopted this FPGAs for their next-generation spaceflight technology will receive their orders in time to be shipped. Manufacturers who have waited for their qualification to be successful are now able to commit for RT PolarFire FPGAs and begin the design process. Designs that are based upon these FPGAs are created and programmed with the version 2021.3 of Microchip’s Libero (r) SoC Design Suite. They are developed using development boards as well as radiation data.