Microchip?s Low-Power Radiation-Tolerant (RT) PolarFire FPGA is Available in Engineering Silicon, On a Path to Full QML Class V Spaceflight

By Tiera Oliver

Associate Editor

Embedded Computing Design

December 03, 2020


Microchip?s Low-Power Radiation-Tolerant (RT) PolarFire FPGA is Available in Engineering Silicon, On a Path to Full QML Class V Spaceflight

Customers can prototype with the same FPGA silicon and package that is now headed for space qualification.

Microchip Technology announced it is shipping engineering silicon for its RT PolarFire Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) while the device is being qualified to spaceflight component reliability standards. Designers can now create hardware prototypes with all the same electrical and mechanical performance that the space-qualified RT PolarFire FPGAs will provide for high-bandwidth on-orbit processing systems with industry-low power consumption and the ability to withstand radiation effects in space.

Microchip is qualifying its RT PolarFire RTPF500T FPGAs to Mil Std 883 Class B, QML Class Q, and QML Class V -- the highest qualification and screening standard for monolithic integrated circuits in space. Designed to survive a rocket launch and meet demanding performance needs in space, RT PolarFire FPGAs are ideal for applications including high-resolution passive and active imaging, precision remote scientific measurement, multi-spectral and hyper-spectral imaging, and object detection and recognition using neural networks. These applications require high levels of operating performance and density, low heat dissipation, low power consumption, and low system-level costs.

Per the company, Microchip’s RT PolarFire FPGAs increase computational performance so satellite payloads can transmit processed information rather than raw data and make optimal use of limited downlink bandwidth. Also, per the company, the devices exceed the performance, logic density, and serializer-deserializer (SERDES) bandwidth of any other currently available space-qualified FPGA. They also enable more system complexity than previous FPGAs and withstand Total Ionizing Dose (TID) exposure beyond the 100 kilorads (kRads) typical of most earth-orbiting satellites and many deep-space missions. Their power-efficient architecture reduces power consumption up to 50 percent compared to SRAM FPGAs, leveraging SONOS configuration switches that also eliminate the problem of configuration upsets due to radiation in space.

The RT PolarFire RTPF500T FPGA engineering models are available in a hermetically sealed ceramic package with land grid, solder ball, and solder column termination options. They are supported by development boards, Microchip’s Libero software tool suite and radiation data. Additional information is available here.

For more information, visit: www.microchip.com

Tiera Oliver, Associate Editor for Embedded Computing Design, is responsible for web content edits, product news, and constructing stories. She also assists with newsletter updates as well as contributing and editing content for ECD podcasts and the ECD YouTube channel. Before working at ECD, Tiera graduated from Northern Arizona University where she received her B.S. in journalism and political science and worked as a news reporter for the university’s student led newspaper, The Lumberjack.

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