December 21, 2021
CAES, which develops advanced mission-critical electronics, has announced a contract award from the European Space Agency (ESA) to develop a fault- and radiation-tolerant system-on-chip (SoC). Funded by the Swedish National Space Agency, the project aims to improve performance and power efficiency in satellite and spacecraft applications by developing a 16-core, space-hardened microprocessor based on the open RISC-V instruction set architecture (ISA).
The company said the GR7xV processor will be designed into space-borne controls and payload data management and processing systems, in order to enable new kinds of observational, communication, navigational and scientific missions and services. These will include advanced, flexible telecommunications satellite payloads, scientific and earth-observation payloads, and robotics systems such as planetary exploration rovers.
The new processor will also extend the CAES Gaisler product family of LEON processors, which have been used in space applications for decades, and are based on legacy 32-bit SPARC V8 ISA microprocessor cores, the company said.
“ESA is proud to work with CAES on this new technology development as it will enable future missions and advance the technological standard for space processors,” said Elodie Viau, director of telecommunications and integrated applications at ESA.
“The ESA contract further advances our development of a fault- and radiation-tolerant space-grade microprocessor with unprecedented performance for its class,” said Sandi Habinc, general manager of CAES Gaisler products. “The open RISC-V ISA has seen significant adoption in other markets, and this project is the first to develop a RISC-V-based ASIC for space applications.”
Earlier this year, the ESA awarded a contract by Vinnova, Sweden’s innovation agency, to extend the RISC-V processor platform to space-hardened applications for timing isolation and cybersecurity. The agency said results of that study will be used to advance space-hardened GR7xV microprocessor development and will be shared with the industry at large.
For more details on CAES and its technologies, visit its website here.