Microchip Technology Radiation-Tolerant (RT) PolarFire FPGA Achieves MIL-STD-883 Class B Qualification for Power-Saving, High-Speed Processing in Space

By Tiera Oliver

Associate Editor

Embedded Computing Design

August 30, 2022


Microchip Technology Radiation-Tolerant (RT) PolarFire FPGA Achieves MIL-STD-883 Class B Qualification for Power-Saving, High-Speed Processing in Space

Microchip Technology achieved the first qualification milestone with its RT PolarFire FPGA, enabling designers to begin assembling spaceflight systems that take advantage of this FPGA's computing and connectivity throughput and its lower power consumption and immunity to configuration Single Event Upsets (SEUs) compared to SRAM-based FPGAs.

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. 

To achieve MIL-STD-883 Class B qualification, RT PolarFire FPGAs passed a series of environmental tests to determine resistance to the harmful effects of natural elements, the conditions of defense and space operations and mechanical and electrical tests. Passing these tests paves the way for QML Class Q and V qualification while demonstrating the reliability advantages of RT PolarFire FPGAs in space.

Their embedded configuration switches have been shown to be robust to more than 100 krad of total ionizing dose radiation exposure, which makes them suitable for most earth-orbiting satellites and many deep space missions. Unlike alternative solutions, these FPGAs do not exhibit any configuration upsets in radiation and therefore require no mitigation, reducing engineering expenses and bill of materials costs.

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. These 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 reliable operation without excessive heat generation in the harsh radiation environment of space. Their unique combination of Logic Elements (LEs), embedded SRAM, DSP blocks, and 12.7 Gbps transceiver lanes enable 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.

The Microchip RT PolarFire FPGA with MIL-STD-883 Class B screening is available now in production quantities in hermetically sealed ceramic packages with land grid and solder column termination options. Manufacturers who have already adopted these FPGAs for their next-generation spaceflight systems will have their orders scheduled for shipment. Manufacturers who are waiting for successful qualification can now commit to RT PolarFire FPGAs by starting design work. Designs based on these FPGAs are developed and programmed using version 2021.3 of Microchip’s Libero® SoC Design Suite and are supported by development boards and radiation data. 

For more information, visit Microchip Technology.

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.

More from Tiera