A New Embedded System Specification Takes on Extreme Environments

Figure 2. There are a variety of advanced processors being developed in CompactPCI Serial/cPCI Serial Space, including this SPARC-based Leon4 quad core board (courtesy of Airbus)(right) and P4080 board (courtesy of Fraunhofer FOKUS)(left). SPARC/Leon is a preferred platform computer used by the European Space Agency.

The space industry faces some great challenges as there is a clear trend for mega constellations, such as OneWeb (900 satellites providing internet service worldwide). Industrialization has reached the space craft manufacturers and therefore, the opportunity is huge for future programs. As these highly rugged systems are developed, the ecosystem will undoubtedly continue to expand. So, Mil/Aero engineers will have a wealth of high-performance cPCI Serial modules to choose from in an architecture that is comparatively low cost and easy-to-use. Figure 2 shows cPCI Serial Space CPU modules (without clamshells). On the right is a Leon4 quad-core processor and on the left is a NXP P4080 QorIQ chipset version that provides the processing power for on-board payload data processing. Both boards have undergone the radiation, thermal, shock/vibration, EMC, and functional tests for space applications.

What is Next?

Most Military embedded computing applications require a proven, reliable, scalable architecture with low SWaP, high-performance options, a simple and easy design that is ruggedizable. With the wealth of ruggedized CompactPCI Serial products, there appears to be increasing interest for the architecture in Mil/Aero projects. For space requirements, additional testing is required for radiation, outgassing, shock/vibration, etc. The cPCI Serial Space architecture has performed these tests, providing a space hardened implementation. There are a significant number of processors, switches, I/O cards, carriers, storage, and graphics modules in the CompactPCI Serial architecture. As more FPGA and digitizer cards are created over time, the industry may see an even larger push in defense applications.

This article was written by Justin Moll, Vice President of Marketing PICMG (Wakefield, MA) and Hans Juergen Herpel, Expert on Advanced Avionics Software, Airbus Defence and Space GmbH (Toulouse, France). For more information, Click Here .