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Reconfigurable processor enables on-the-fly adjustment of space applications

July 16, 2012 // Paul Buckley

Reconfigurable processor enables on-the-fly adjustment of space applications

Atmel Corporation’s Atmel ATF697FF is the newest member of the Atmel SPARC V8 processor family and claims to be the industry’s first radiation-hardened (RAD Hard) high-performance aerospace microprocessor that can be reconfigured on-the-fly.


The ability to reconfigure on-the-fly allows users to make on-going design modifications to satellites, including specification updates, in-flight adjustments during trial flights and post-launch alterations.

Reflecting 30 years of innovation in the aerospace market, the new ATF697FF is a reconfigurable processor that integrates Atmel’s proven RAD Hard AT697F processor and reconfigurable ATF280F (FPGA) unit in a single multichip module (MCM). With this MCM solution approach, engineers can reduce overall system cost and save space on the printed circuit board (PCB).

The ATF697FF, designed and developed by the Atmel Aerospace Business Unit here in Rousset, France, adds the flexibility of a reprogrammable FPGA to the reliability of a powerful core processor running application software. It is ideal for systems that require reconfiguration of peripherals and interfaces, making it easy to comply and stay up-to-date with evolving standards that are used on many space missions, such as SpaceWire, CAN or IEEE1553. The flexibility of the ATF697FF processor is also beneficial for late design modifications performed on Earth, for in-flight adjustments on satellites and for space trial operations.

The new solution combines an Atmel AT697F SPARC V8 RAD Hard processor with a RAD Hard ATF280F SRAM-based FPGA and an internal PCI link. The ATF697FF delivers best-in-class performance, running at up to 100 MHz, as well as low power, down to 0.7 W, for space applications today. Jointly developed with STAR-Dundee of the United Kingdom, a SDE Software development kit is also available for the SPARC V8 Platform to provide compiling, debugging and monitoring tools. IDS and Mentor tools are available for FPGA designs and Atmel will offer pre-placed IPs to ease customized interfaces developments.

Availability

Atmel is currently engaging with alpha customers on the ATF697FF. The product will be available for prototyping in July 2012 and for flight model implementation the end of 2012.

More information about the Atmel’s ATF697FF SPARC V8 processor at
www.atmel.com/devices/ATF697FF.aspx

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