FPGA puts AI in space: Page 2 of 3

May 19, 2020 //By Nick Flaherty
Xilinx has launched a 20nm reconfigurable FPGA qualified for use in space and optimised for machine learning frameworks
Xilinx has launched a 20nm reconfigurable FPGA qualified for use in space and optimised for machine learning frameworks
– you can send a new bitfile and change the design and there is no limit,” she said. “What we have seen is you can store the bit file in non-volatile memory before launch. The second way is via the onboard computer to do the change, for example for a bug fix.”

Protection against errors from single event upsets (SEUs) caused by radiation is key for space qualified parts. A triple module redundant (TMR) approach is used for some elements, such as three versions of the embedded MicroBlaze processor. “You don’t have to TMR the whole chip,” she said. “Where we knew the circuit was more susceptible we beefed up those portions. The control circuits for the logic, DSP and DRAM we beefed up with process techniques, duplicate or triple cells, increasing the gate lengths etc. Then there is software mitigation on top of that, with duplicate portions of the circuit in the logic array.” 

The device is qualified from -55 to +125 ˚C and withstands a total dose of 100Krad and single event latchup (SEL) of >80MeVcm 2/mg. This is the requirement for a geostationary orbit, and exceed that for low earth orbit designs. It is packaged in a 40 pin ceramic package.

A development board uses SRAM and non-volatile memories from Infineon Technologies, DDR3 and an MCU from Cobham and high speed space qualified ADCs from Texas Instruments and Teledyne e2V. A TMR Synthesis tool from Mentor Graphics supports the design of redundant logic, and Seakr Engineering in Colorado has produced a rack system for the development of geostationary satellite communications systems using the RT Kintex. 

"Seakr Engineering has collaborated with Xilinx for 15 years to consistently achieve challenging mission objectives for advanced space communications applications,” said Paul Rutt, CTO at Seakr. “We have baselined Xilinx’s 20nm Kintex UltraScale FPGAs with 12.5 GbpsSerDes links enabling high-throughput, flexible and reconfigurable modulation, demodulation, channelisation and routing capability in our newest advanced RF Reconfigurable processor,


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