Microsemi updates space FPGA portfolio

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Looking to bring a significant boost in capability to those developing FPGA based satellite applications, Microsemi has launched the RTG4 family.

"Satellites have more capable sensors, better resolution imagers and faster downlinks," said Ken O'Neill, Microsemi's director of marketing, space and aviation. "Operators want more and more data to be sent back, regardless of what the satellite is, and it's getting harder to squeeze extra data into the downlink. So there is the need to more on board processing and higher performance electronics."

Previous FPGAs for space applications have had limited capacity. "The biggest part before had 20,000 logic elements (LE) and ran at 100MHz," O'Neill noted. "The RTG4 range has up to 150,00 LEs, 462 MAC blocks and runs at 300MHz. This is equivalent to an x20 improvement in signal processing ability." A part with 77,000 LEs is in development

Based on 65nm reprogrammable flash technology, RTG4 devices are said to be completely immune to radiation induced configuration upsets and O'Neill said that 'steps have been taken' to harden the parts against total dose – the long term accumulation of charge.

Key features include: 24 serial transceivers running at up to 3.125Gbit/s; SpaceWire clock and data recovery circuits; and more than 5 Mbit of on-board SRAM.

Engineering samples of the 150k LE device, which will be supplied in a ceramic grid package, are available now, with samples of the 77k device planned for early 2016.