PLEASANTON, Calif. -- CPU Technology Inc. here is tackling a problem that has stymied other companies: develop a practical method for adapting commercial processor designs for use in radiation environments such as space shuttles and launch vehicles.
Military/aerospace applications have always required systems that are radiation-hardened, very reliable and available for the long term. If they could also be compatible with commercial gradeprocessors, a great deal of time and money could be saved. Designers could use commercially available standard software tools such as programming language compilers, run-time operating systems and the like, rather than custom software.
Over the next 12 months, CPU Tech will develop RadFire, a high-assurance, rad-hard equivalent of Motorola Inc.'s ColdFire processor. The company is working under a contract from the Air Force Research Laboratory in Albuquerque, N.M.
CPU Tech's RadFire will be a high-assurance processor, optimized for use in radiation environments, that will be the exact functional equivalent of the ColdFire. It will not become obsolete because its design will be "foundry process independent," the company said. This means that the design netlist can be moved between foundries without any design changes required. Life-cycle support will be guaranteed.
To do this, CPU Tech has invented a proprietary automated validation technology that makes
it possible to provide very high assurance that a processor or a circuit board or an entire system is precisely compatible with another processor, board or system.
Validated Modernization, as the company calls it, is "the process of inserting new technology into a functioning system with no negative impacts on system operation while preserving proven system software and tools."
CPU Tech uses this same design technique to guarantee its customers binary compatibility and life-cycle support for its plug-and-play system-on-chip solutions.
The company has numerous patents in the areas of system and processor design and complex system modeling. Its microprocessor development technologies, including configurable processor frameworks, automated compatibility testing and system virtual prototyping, make it possible to
provide efficient, affordable and reliable long-term compatible solutions, it said.