Radiation-Hardened Arm-Based SoCs For Space Systems

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Includes commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) to rad-hard scalable solutions with the addition of embedded analogue capabilities

Deep space initiatives including planetary exploration, orbiter missions and space research require innovative spacecraft system technology that provides excellent connectivity and processing. To enable system designers better integration and higher performance while reducing development costs and time to market, COTS technologies and scalable solutions are increasingly used in space applications. 

To meet this need, Microchip Technology offers the microprocessor (MPU) SAMRH71 and the SAMRH707 microcontroller (MCU), both implementing Arm Cortex-M7 SoC radiation-hardened technology.

The SAMRH71, 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). Designed for high-level radiation performance, extreme temperatures and high reliability, the SAMRH71’s Arm Cortex-M7 core is coupled with high-bandwidth communication interfaces such as SpaceWire, MIL-STD-1553, CAN FD and Ethernet with IEEE 1588 Generalised Precision Time Protocol (gPTP) capabilities. The device is fully ESCC qualified with support from the French space agency, Centre National D’Etudes Spatiales (CNES) and compliant with MIL standard Class V and Q high-reliability grades, allowing systems to meet strict compliance requirements.

The SAMRH707 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 enables a high level of integration embedding Static Random Access Memory (SRAM) and flash memory, high-bandwidth communication interfaces including SpaceWire, MIL-STD-1553 and CAN FD, along with analogue functions such as a 12-bit Analogue-to-Digital Converter (ADC) and Digital-to-Analogue Converter (DAC).

Imortance of System Development

With space-designed MCUs, MPUs and Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs), Microchip provides critical elements for the development of new systems. Microchip’s total system solutions span space-qualified, radiation-hardened and radiation-tolerant power, timing and clock devices, as well as connectivity and memory solutions.

“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 defence business unit. “In this environment, lowering system development costs while enabling greater capabilities and space system integration is 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) 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 an Arm Cortex M7-based rad-hard microprocessor that 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.”

To speed system design, developers can use the SAMRH71F20-EK and SAMRH707F18-EK evaluation boards. Microchip’s full ecosystem supports its SAMRH707 and SAMRH71 space processors and includes MPLAB Harmony tools suite and third-party software services for space applications. Both Microchip devices are supported by the company’s Integrated Development Environment (IDE) for developing, debugging and software libraries. The devices are supported in MPLAB Harmony version 3.0.

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-optimised 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).


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