Radiation-tolerant FPGAs to
join ESA missions
Actel's RTSX-S radiation-tolerant FPGAs have been selected for extensive use on the Herschel and Planck space probes, scheduled for launch by the European Space Agency in 2007
The Herschel and Planck probes will study infra-red radiation and cosmic background radiation, respectively. The RT54SX32S and RT54SX72S parts will be used for many flight-critical functions on the space explorations, including interfacing and control, coprocessing and data handling, as well as mission-critical functions within various scientific instruments.
Actel's RTSX-S FPGAs were also chosen by Systems Engineering and Assessment (SEA) of Bath, UK, for its cooler drive processor, which requires resistance to single-event upsets (SEUs) and tolerance to total ionising dose (TID).
Incorporated in the high-frequency instrument (HFI) on the Planck space probe, the circuit maintains the radiation measuring and cooling equipment at a constant temperature of -269C.
Alan Senior, Principal Consultant at SEA, comments: "Because we could not risk any upsets to the cooler drive processor, the Actel RT54SX32S FPGAs met our requirements exactly and the required TID performance was easily achieved.
Further, the device's SEU-hardened flip-flops were vital for storing important status and control bits in the system.
In addition, we had to make some late adjustments to the FPGA design and I/O definition, and we were confident that the Actel part would reroute easily, preventing the need for a printed circuit board respin".
"Shipping to European space programs since early 2001, the RTSX-S FPGAs have received remarkable acceptance.
Further, with more than 200 Actel devices onboard, the Herschel and Planck missions mark the largest ever use of Actel FPGAs on a European space programme", explains Joe Wells, Aerospace Business Development Manager, Actel Europe.
"We believe these designs are the result of our commitment to be a key player in space technology and we hope the addition of the recently announced high-density RTAX-S family to our space offerings will enable future design successes and breakthroughs in space".
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