COTS Journal

JEFF'S PICK: 3.3V Rad Tolerant MIL-STD-1553 Terminals are Fully Integrated

By: Jeff Child, Editor-in-Chief

Selecting electronic components and subsystems for space-based platforms continues to be a challenge. Even since the Space Shuttle program ended and the commercial space industry filled its gap, the space electronics industry has been going through a period of transition. Fortunately a variety of vendors of space-qualified products has kept tuned in to the concerns facing space designers. Space-based semiconductors and board-level systems must be capable of withstanding everything from intense radiation due to high-energy atoms, to bombardments from neutrons and other particles. A steady crop of radiation-hardened boards and subsystems continues to emerge as well as ASICs, FPGAs and power components designed for space applications.

When the entire commercial semiconductor industry some years ago made the switch over to lead-free technology, military and aerospace industries were left scrambling to cope with a landscape of lead-free devices. The tin-whiskering and other phenomena that occur in lead-free chips is no problem for the short lifecycle consumer electronics realm. But for the ultra-long development times of defense programs, lead-free is a risky prospect. And for space applications that problem is multiplied by the fact that space-based systems literally cannot be physically accessed to be repaired once launched. The good news is that the space electronics industry is keeping pace with products and logistics services that mitigate those issues.

For this month's Editor's Pick section COTS Journal evaluated several space-qualified electronic products on three aspects: technology leadership, design innovation and market relevance. This month's Jeff's Pick is Total-Space ACE from Data Device Corp. (Figure 1). Total-Space ACE (shown) offers full BC, RT, MT, and RT/MT functionality to interface directly to a host processor, while the Total-Space RT is an RT-only terminal ideal for interfacing with systems without a host processor, such as an FPGA or simple logic. Both versions feature an extended -55  to +125 degrees C temperature range, and 300 Krads total dose and >85 MeV-cm²/mg SEE (Single Event Effects) radiation hardening required for the extreme environmental conditions encountered in mission critical space applications.

The devices feature compact, single-package design that includes transceivers, transformers, protocol and memory, and provides highly efficient operation requiring only 3.3V power. This simplifies PC board layout, power supply design, and minimizes board area and power consumption and dissipation. According to DDC, the Total-Space ACE and Total-Space RT are the first fully integrated space-grade MIL-STD-1553 terminal products. The Total-Space ACE integrates MIL-STD-1553 protocol, host interface logic, memory, transceivers and transformers into a 1.63 in. x 1.13 in. x 0.25 inch ceramic flatpack package. The co-fired ceramic package provides a very low thermal impedance between the transceivers and other chips and the bottom of the case.

Highly Integrated Space Solutions

Integrating the transformers into the hybrid guarantees a match between the 1553 transceivers and transformers, as the transceivers are trimmed while paired with their respective transformers. These hybrids minimize PC board area, weight, and power while maximizing reliability (MTBF), all important parameters for the designers of space borne systems. In addition, DDC's latest generation of 1553 hybrids are fully hardware and software compatible with the earlier SP'ACE and SP'ACE II hybrids. DDC has served the space industry for more than 3 decades as an approved supplier to NASA, ESA and JAXA.

Data Device Corp.
Bohemia, NY
(631) 567-5600


...And the Runners Up:

3U cPCI SBC Fully Characterized Via NASA-Approved Proton Cyclotrons

The SP0 from Aitech Defense Systems is space-qualified 3U SBC that has been fully tested and characterized at the NASA-approved UC Davis proton and Texas A&M heavy ion cyclotrons. The low overall power consumption of only 10 W is ideal for high performance, in-orbit systems. The SP0 is fully qualified and radiation characterized to over 100 kRad (Si) and is latch-up immune to greater than 37 MeV-cm2/mg to reliably operate in LEO (low) and MEO (medium) orbits as well as show a high confidence for use in GEO (geostationary) orbits (Figure 2).

In addition to the 8 Gbytes of ECC user NAND flash, the board offers up to 512 Mbytes of fast DDR SDRAM, also with ECC protection, for high data integrity. The board uses the radiation-tolerant Freescale Silicon-on-Insulator (SOI) MPC8548E PowerQUICC-III 1.17 GHz processor that provides 333.3 MHz of core complex bus (CCB) and an e500 SoC. The board features two Gigabit Ethernet ports, four asynchronous, high-speed serial communications ports and up to five general purpose discrete I/O channels. An industry-standard PMC slot as well as up to eight PCI Express lanes and dual PCI buses add even more on-board functionality and performance to the SP0.

Aitech Defense Systems
Chatsworth, CA
(888) 248-3248


Development Kit is Made for Rad-Tolerant FPGA System Designs

Microsemi has announced the availability of its RTG4 Development Kit with its recently announced RTG4 PROTO FPGAs. As the industry's first radiation-tolerant FPGA kit providing space designers a comprehensive evaluation and design platform, the new kit is ideal for the development of applications such as data transmission, serial connectivity, bus interface and high speed designs, using the company's RTG4 radiation-tolerant high-speed FPGAs (Figure 3).

The new kit includes Microsemi's RTG4 PROTO FPGAs, enabling lower cost prototyping and design validation while offering the only reprogrammable prototyping solution of their kind delivering the same timing and power characteristics as space flight units. The development kit provides all necessary reference to evaluate and adopt RTG4 technology quickly, without the need to build a test board and assemble the device onto the board. The RTG4 Development Kit board features a RT4G150 device offering more than 150,000 logic elements in a ceramic package with 1,657 pins. Its reprogrammable flash configuration is unique to the space industry, making prototyping faster and easier than other radiation-tolerant FPGAs. The kit also features Microsemi's Libero SoC Design Suite, offering high productivity with its comprehensive, easy to learn, easy to adopt development tools for designing with Microsemi's radiation-tolerant FPGAs.

Aliso Viejo CA
(949) 380-6100


Check Out These Space Electronic Products Too...

The Smart Backplane chassis from Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions a rugged DAU (Data Acquisition Unit) that has been designed with space-related data acquisition, data processing and recording in mind. It allows the use COTS modules in a radiation-intensive environment.

Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions, Ashburn, VA. (703) 779-7800. 4

Intersil's ISL70617SEH is a radiation tolerant 36V instrumentation amplifier (in-amp) featuring an integrated differential ADC driver. It enables higher common-mode rejection ratio (CMRR) and power supply rejection ratio (PSRR) than the competing devices, at all gain settings.

Intersil, Milpitas, CA. (408) 432-8888. 5

The new anti-static space wire and cable products from TE Connectivity (TE) help remove issues of concern for static discharge buildup for outer space-based systems associated with the normal installation of electrical wiring systems in the spacecraft.

TE Connectivity, Berwyn, PA. (610) 893-9800.


© 2009 RTC Group, Inc., 905 Calle Amanecer, Suite 150, San Clemente, CA 92673