It's not an easy task to ruggedize some technologies. Making electronics for military and aerospace applications imposes many more scrutinizing tests and verifications.
Both device manufacturers and designers who use the hardened parts have to jump through several layers of hoops to assure compliance with guidelines and standards. So rigorous is this process, many device makers have opted out of the military marketplace altogether.
This has in a way hurt us. Designers who wish to make an advanced state of the art systems for the military or intelligence community are often limited in the parts they can select and use. This means designers of commercial and consumer products can often be a generation ahead of the technology used by armed forces.
Memory is one area that can severely limit a designs capabilities. Look at modern applications and the amount (and types) of memory they use. Imagine having to implement these products with memory technology at least a generation old if not older.
Memory is specifically a very touchy area. I'm sure by now you are aware of SRAM issues with alpha particles causing soft errors. Flash too can be jolted into corruption since cells depend on floating gates. DRAM is also susceptible since each capacitively charged (or discharged) cell quantizes the number of electrons stored. High energy charged particles or impulse fields cause charge migration, thus corruption.
As a result, both die layout and fabrication technology, as well as packaging technology has bellied up to the bar to let product survive the cruel and harsh world. As long as the packaged end product meets or exceeds specified limits, it can be used. By advancing the die and the package which protects the die, designers of ruggedized equipment can use more state of the art technology.
That's why you may be interested in knowing that 21 new SDRAM form factors and configurations of high performance radiation-hardened electronic components for space applications is now available thanks to Maxwell. Maxwell is currently the only vendor to the space industry that can provide die-based radiation-hardened SDRAM components. By a proprietary radiation shielding technology the new SDRAM products are fully qualified and radiation-hardened for use in space.
They feature configurations from 256 Mb to 1.5 Gb and enhanced memory widths for use in high-performance computer systems. In a typical GEO orbit, Maxwell's components provide greater than 100 krads radiation dose tolerance.
Yes, they are pricy compared with the technology on your desktop, but, aerospace engineers requiring higher density memory to keep up with the escalating computing demands in space applications will have little choice. (Pricing for flight level SDRAM memory components begins at $2,297 for a quantity of 100 units.)