Generally speaking I'm not too interested to hear that a company has passed some milestone with regard to the number of components it's shipped. The exceptions are (a) if it's a truly big number, (b) if it's anything to do with spaceships, space-probes, and things of that ilk, or (c) if there is something really cool that grabs my attention (grin).
Anyway, I just heard from the folks at Microsemi that they have shipped their 10,000th radiation-tolerant RTAX-S FPGA device for flight-critical applications. Microsemi has also shipped tens of thousands of its previous generation spaceflight FPGAs. For the past 55 years, Microsemi has developed products for use in space systems orbiting the Earth, moon, Mars, Venus and sun, and for equipment used in missions to the surface of Mars, the Eros asteroid, and into the furthest reaches of the solar system.
Microsemi's space heritage began in 1957 (Editor's Note: This was the year I was born) when its micro-positioner relay was launched in the Atlas rocket. The company's space technology was subsequently deployed in a variety of space missions in the 1950s and 1960s, as well as in the Surveyor, Apollo and Saturn programs of the late 1960s and 1970s, the international space station program initiated during the 1990s, and the Mars Rovers, Mars Science Lab and Cygnus spacecraft initiatives of the 2000s and 2010s. Microsemi powered the mission computer on the Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR) Shoemaker Satellite during its five year mission and ultimate landing on the surface of Eros.
"Our radiation-tolerant RTAX-S/SL FPGAs for space-flight applications continue our heritage of providing an alternative to costly and inflexible ASICs, and have since become the industry standard for performance, power efficiency and reliability," said James J. Peterson, Microsemi's president and chief executive officer. "This milestone is one of many that have punctuated our more than half century of commitment to space innovation, as demonstrated through our integral role in hundreds of missions and development programs around the world."
Microsemi's broad portfolio of radiation-hardened and radiation-tolerant space products includes FPGAs, ASICs, RF components, diodes, transistors, MOSFETS, hybrids, power supplies, custom semiconductor packaging and integrated power distribution systems. The company's products are qualified to the highest government, DLA, NASA and ESA standards, and their reliability has been independently verified by multiple agencies. Microsemi solves space system problems at all stages of design and implementation, including power conversion and distribution, radio and radar signal processing, system telemetry and control, digital logic integration, and semiconductor packaging.
Space Parts Working Group event
As part of its 55-year celebration, Jim Aralis, Microsemi's chief technology officer, will provide an overview of the company's space solutions portfolio and accomplishments at the 42nd annual Space Parts Working Group (SPWG) event, which is sponsored by The Aerospace Corporation in cooperation with the Space and Missile Systems Center. Aralis is scheduled to speak at 4:30 p.m. on April 24, 2012, at the Doubletree Hotel in Torrance/South Bay, Calif. The annual SPWG event is an unclassified, international forum for disseminating information to the aerospace industry and for resolving problems with high-reliability electronic piece parts for space applications.
Microsemi space forums
Microsemi also has been a leading voice on space technology advances through its invitation-only Space Forum program, a series of annual events launched in 2005 that are held in multiple locations throughout the world. The events bring together Microsemi partners and global space customers to focus on topics relevant to the space industry, including trends, testing and qualification of space-flight FPGAs, future products, user case studies, software and core updates, and packaging roadmaps. The next event is scheduled for December 4, 2012, in Los Angeles, Calif.
Microsemi's radiation-tolerant/hardened FPGAs
Microsemi has achieved a number of key FPGA milestones in space applications. The company's RTAX-S FPGAs were the first to break the one-million-gate barrier at their introduction in 2004, making them the industry's largest viable ASIC alternatives with the density, performance and radiation-resistance required for demanding space applications. The devices have enabled the development of lower-cost and more flexible bus and payload systems with faster time to market for a new generation of low-, mid- and geosynchronous-orbit satellites. Specific Microsemi FPGA space milestones include:
- 1996: the first radiation-hardened, non-volatile FPGA
- 2001: the first radiation-tolerant FPGAs specifically architected to address single-event upsets (SEUs) in space
- 2008: the first radiation-tolerant MIL-STD-883 Class B-qualified FPGAs for space-flight applications using flash-based process technology to combine reprogrammability with critical immunity to radiation-induced configuration upsets
- 2010: Full MIL-STD-883 Class B qualification of the industry's first FPGAs for space applications to feature radiation-tolerant hardwired multiply accumulate blocks.
Today, Microsemi RTAX-S radiation-tolerant FPGAs offer a variety of industry-leading advantages for designers of space-flight systems. High performance and low-power consumption are combined in a true single-chip form factor that delivers live-at-power-up operation, making RTAX-S the FPGA of choice for many space designers. Additionally, for space applications that have a need for a lower standby current, Microsemi offers RTAX-SL, the low-power grade option that has more than half the standby current of the standard product at worst-case conditions.
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