AI-enabled Nvidia GPU hardware in orbit

AI-enabled Nvidia GPU hardware in orbit

Technology News |
By Nick Flaherty

Radiation tolerant AI hardware based on ARM cores has launched into low earth orbit.  

The Kestrel GPU-based AI system developed by Colossus Compute, formerly Zephyr Computing Systems, was launched as part of Loft Orbital’s YAM-6 satellite.

Loft selected the Colossus Kestrel system to serve as a Compute Resource for Virtual Missions. The hardware is based on 256 Core Pascal GPU with a quad Core A57 CPU and dual core Nvidia Denver 2 CPU with hardware video codecs and an internal ADC for voltage/temperature telemetry. There is 8 GBytes of 128-bit DRAM with ECC and 32GBytes of eMMC embedded memory.

The unit measures 98 x 98 x 33 mm and weighs 402g with a maximum power of 25W.

“Loft’s Virtual Mission service allows customers to access in-space data, and Colossus’s onboard processor technology helps enable this new paradigm for our customers,” said Keith Becker, Director of Embedded Systems, Flight Products from Loft.

Colossus’s technology is backed by NASA development programmes. The system uses a novel, agile-defense method for mitigating the detrimental effects of radiation on electronics through a fusion of algorithms, bespoke components, semiconductor advancements, and hardware design. This is coupled with Colossus’s tailored Linux-based operating system optimized for space,

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The challenging environment in space has historically constrained the use of contemporary computer hardware essential for managing data processing and intricate AI and ML workloads onboard satellites. Yet, the potential benefits are substantial, with AI projected to drive growth in the space industry, anticipated to reach a value of $1.8 trillion by 2035, according to McKinsey.

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“Getting high-performance computing to work beyond earth’s surface is a tough challenge, so new hardware approaches are needed to meet the data and software demands of today’s advanced sensing methods, space infrastructure, and autonomous operations.” He continues, “We see a near future where data generated in space is increasingly used in space. Commercializing AI-ready, radiation-tolerant hardware for computation and storage is a crucial piece of the puzzle we are solving at Colossus,” said Jason Cerundolo, co-founder and CEO of Colossus.

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