Radiation-tolerant FPGAs for high-speed signal processing

April 07, 2015 // By Graham Prophet
Microsemi’s RTG4 series is added to the company’s RT (radiaiton-tolerant) FPGAs, providing 150 k logic elements and 300 MHz performance.

The RTG4 high-speed signal processing radiation-tolerant FPGA family offers reprogrammable flash technology with complete immunity to radiation-induced configuration upsets in the harshest radiation environments, requiring no configuration scrubbing, unlike SRAM FPGA technology. RTG4 supports space applications requiring up to 150,000 logic elements and up to 300 MHz of system performance.

Typical uses for RTG4 include remote sensing space payloads, such as radar, imaging and spectrometry in civilian, scientific and commercial applications. These applications span weather forecasting and climate research, land use, astronomy and astrophysics, planetary exploration, and earth sciences. Other applications include mobile satellite services (MSS) communication satellites, as well as high altitude aviation, medical electronics and civilian nuclear power plant control. Such applications have historically used expensive radiation-hardened ASICs, which force (Microsemi contends) development programmes to incur substantial cost and schedule risk. RTG4 allows programs to access the ease-of-use and flexibility of FPGAs without sacrificing reliability or performance.

“We expect that the next 10 years will see an increase of about 25% in the number of new spacecraft of 50 kg mass or larger,” said Marco Cáceres, senior analyst and director of space studies for the Virginia-based Teal Group consulting firm. “These new spacecraft will have more sophisticated payload electronics than their predecessors, doing more on-board data processing to maximise data acquisition while dealing with limited downlink bandwidth.”

“The introduction of RTG4 FPGAs affirms our strong commitment to the space industry as the leading supplier of FPGAs for applications requiring mitigation of radiation effects,” said Ken O’Neill, director of marketing, space and aviation at Microsemi.

Product features include:

• Up to 150,000 logic elements; each includes a four-input combinatorial look-up table (LUT4) and a flip-flop with built-in single event upset (SEU) and single event transient (SET) mitigation

• High system performance, up to 300 MHz

• 24 serial transceivers, with operation from 1 Gb/sec to 3.125 Gb/sec

• 16 SEU- and SET-protected SpaceWire clock and data recovery circuits