Europe drives first ARM M7 space processors

April 27, 2021 // By Nick Flaherty
Europe drives first ARM M7 space processors
Microchip’s space-qualified SAMRH71 processor and SAMRH707 ARM Cortex M7 microcontroller were developed with ESA and CNES

The European Space Agency and CNES in France have enabled the first space-qualified ARM M7 microcontrollers.

The radiation hardened SAMRH71 Arm-based microprocessor (MPU) and SAMRH707 microcontroller (MCU) from Microchip both implement Arm Cortex-M7 core. The commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) parts boost the use of ARM technology in space designs, from LEO satellites to deep space initiatives including planetary exploration, orbiter missions and space research.

“Spacecraft and satellites are expanding in complexity to provide commercial and military operators with robust new communication and data capabilities, greater reliability and faster speeds, while the operators continuously seek to reduce cost, size and weight,” said Bob Vampola, associate vice president of Microchip’s aerospace and defense business unit. “In this environment, lowering system development costs while enabling greater capabilities and space system integration are ever more critical.”

The SAMRH71 and SAMRH707 devices were developed with the support of the European Space Agency (ESA) and Centre National D’Etudes Spatiales (CNES), the French space agency, to further research and program initiatives.

“The introduction of Arm technologies for space applications opens up new perspectives by enabling the use of the same ecosystem well in place in the consumer and industrial sectors,” said David Dangla, VLSI Components Expert at CNES. “The SAMRH71 is the first Arm Cortex M7-based rad-hard microprocessor available today on the market. It offers developers the simplicity of a single-core processor and the performance of an advanced architecture without having to implement heavy mitigation techniques as is required for non-space components.”

“Integration of digital-to-analogue converters and analogue-to-digital converters together with a powerful processor core is a key requirement for addressing new challenges in aerospace applications,” said Kostas Marinis, Onboard Computers Engineer at ESA. “With the SAMRH707, Microchip provides easy-to-use capabilities in cost-effective, radiation-hardened MCUs.”

Using the standard Arm Cortex-M7 architecture and the same peripherals as automotive and industrial processors provides lower system development cost and faster design times by using standard software and hardware tools from the consumer devices. The parts are available in a standard BGA for development boards and low cost satellites as well as ceramic and hermetically packages for deep space and long lifetime systems

The SAMRH71 processor is a radiation-hardened variant of Microchip’s COTS automotive SoC technology, provides a combination of space connectivity interfaces along with high-performance architecture with more than 200 Dhrystone MIPS (DMIPS). The part is designed for high-level radiation performance, extreme temperatures and high reliability and includes interfaces for SpaceWire, MIL-STD-1553, CAN FD and Ethernet with IEEE 1588 Generalized Precision Time Protocol (gPTP) capabilities. The device is fully ESCC qualified with support from CNES and compliant with MIL standard Class V and Q high-reliability grades, allowing systems to meet strict compliance requirements.

The SAMRH707 microcontroller provides analogue functions on top of a >100 DMIPS processor unit with Digital Signal Processing (DSP) capabilities, combined with space connectivity interfaces in a small footprint designed for high-level radiation performance, extreme temperatures and high reliability. The SAMRH707 includes SRAM and flash memory, high-bandwidth communication interfaces including SpaceWire, MIL-STD-1553 and CAN FD, along with analogue functions such as a 12bit ADC and DAC.

To speed system design, developers can use the SAMRH71F20-EK and SAMRH707F18-EK evaluation boards alongside version 3.0 of the MPLAB Harmony tool suite and third-party software services for space applications. 

The SAMRH71 ceramic package device is available in volume production quantities with QMLQ (SAMRH71F20C-7GB-MQ) and QMLV (SAMRH71F20C-7GB-SV) equivalent qualification levels. For applications requiring high volumes and cost-optimized structures, the SAMRH71 is available for printed circuit board design or evaluation in Ball Grid Array (BGA) plastic packaging. The SAMRH707 in a CQFP164 ceramic package is sampling today (SAMRH707F18A-DRB-E).

www.microchip.com

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