AMD qualifies its 7nm space AI FPGA

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

AMD has completed Class B qualification of its space grade Versal adaptive FPGA system on chip for AI applications. Raytheon is one of the early customers for shipment in early 2023.

The XQR Versal AI Core XQRVC1902 FPGA is designed for full radiation tolerance to provide AI inference and high-bandwidth signal processing performance for satellite and space applications. 

The completion of Class B qualification, derived from the US military specification MIL-PRF-38535, allows the devices to begin shipping in early 2023. The Class B qualification and manufacturing test flow has been adapted for the advanced organic packaging AMD is using for the devices.

The FPGA enables on-board data processing and AI inferencing applications in space rather than using custom-designed ASICs, supporting reprogramming during development as well as after deployment, including in-flight in the harsh radiation environment of space.

This permits satellite operators to change processing algorithms after a satellite has been launched, allowing for previously unavailable flexibility in remote sensing and communications applications. The radiation tolerance of the XQR Versal has been tested by AMD and independent organizations and has been determined to be capable of supporting missions from low-earth orbit to geosynchronous earth orbit and beyond.

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“Raytheon is basing our next-generation space processors on the XQR Versal adaptive SoCs due to the chip’s performance in various radiation environments and its high quality levels,” said Barry Liu, senior director, Space Systems at Raytheon Intelligence and Space.

“Its heterogeneous computing capabilities and reconfigurable logic fabric will enable our teams to integrate more on-board processing in a considerably smaller footprint, enabling unprecedented advances in system-level size, weight and power (SWaP),” he said.

The chiplet-based device features dual ARM Cortex-A72 cores and dual ARM Cortex-R5 embedded processors, 400 AI/ML compute engines, almost 900,000 logic cells, and 191M bits of memory, all connected with a network-on-chip and fabricated on a 7nm CMOS process.

Developers can produce designs for XQR Versal devices using the AMD Xilinx Vivado tool suite and Vitis AI software platform from a variety of developer tools and industry-standard frameworks, including RTL, C and C++, Matlab, Caffe, TensorFlow, PyTorch and others.

 “The Class B qualification marks a significant milestone in the introduction of advanced programmable solutions for space applications,” said Minal Sawant, senior director of Aerospace and Defense Vertical Market, AMD.

“We have prioritized an accelerated schedule for the Versal adaptive SoC Class B qualification, all while ensuring a thorough and rigorous approach to the testing and analysis necessary to qualify devices for use in space. We are excited to start scheduling customers’ orders for flight-grade Versal devices.”;

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