Fraunhofer FOKUS Unveils Space-grade CompactPCI Board


As part of a German project named On-Board Computer System
Architecture (OBC-SA), funded by the German Space Agency (DLR) to develop an
architectural framework for future space born on-board computer systems, the
Fraunhofer Institute for Open Communications Systems FOKUS has developed what
is now considered to be the most powerful space-grade CompactPCI board for
commercial space applications.

The compact and robust design of the OBC-SA framework is
based on the new open cPCI Serial Space industrial standard (PICMG CPCI-S.1
R1.0) for future space computer systems, and provides communication connections
for all subsystems. The OBC-SA framework and modular design allow for easy
configuration of future on-board computer systems from different computer and
I/O components meaning functionality, computing power, redundancy and I/O
interfaces can be flexibly adapted to mission-specific requirements.

“Future missions require a high level of autonomy and thus
an extra high requirement for computing power to be executed safely and
reliably. With expensive space-qualified components, possibilities for
extensive autonomy, i.e. robotic control and image processing, were limited.
Fraunhofer FOKUS has set itself the aim to use so called COTS-Components
(Commercial-Off-The-Shelf) with the high processing power of modern processors
for space applications, simultaneously reducing the cost of construction of
high-performance computer systems for space as a result of the high potential
of reuse concepts, architectures and components from other domains." commented
Friedrich Schön, Director of the Business Unit for Quality Engineering (SQC) at
Fraunhofer FOKUS in Berlin.

The processor at the heart of this world-class board is a
hi-rel version of the QorIQ multi-core P4080 from Teledyne e2v. Qualified by
Teledyne e2v for aerospace applications, the P4080 uses low-power
silicon-on-insulator technology that is known to be less-radiation sensitive
than conventional CMOS technology. Using this commercially designed processor
in the CompactPCI board has enabled a 50 times increase in computing power compared
to using a traditional space-grade processor.

Thierry Bissuel, Vice President & General Manager of
Data and Signal Processing Solutions at Teledyne e2v, said, “As space continues
to become more commercially accessible, we’re seeing a huge rise in the number
of satellite constellation projects that have much shorter development cycles
than historical space programs. These constellation projects have forged their
own space qualification and performance requirements that traditional space
designed processors cannot meet. We meet these needs by providing advanced
commercial processors, qualified to industry space standards in one third of
the time compared to traditional space processor delivery lead times".

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