NASA Awards Subsequent-Era Spaceflight Computing Processor Contract

“We’re happy that NASA chosen Microchip as its companion to develop the next-generation space-qualified compute processor platform,” stated Babak Samimi, company vice chairman for Microchip’s Communications enterprise unit. “We’re making a joint funding with NASA on a brand new trusted and transformative compute platform. It would ship complete Ethernet networking, superior synthetic intelligence/machine studying processing and connectivity assist whereas providing unprecedented efficiency acquire, fault-tolerance, and safety structure at low energy consumption. We’ll foster an industry-wide ecosystem of single board pc companions anchored on the HPSC processor and Microchip’s complementary space-qualified whole system options to learn a brand new technology of mission-critical edge compute designs optimized for measurement, weight, and energy.”

Present space-qualified computing know-how is designed to handle probably the most computationally intensive a part of a mission – a apply that results in overdesigning and inefficient use of computing energy. For instance, a Mars floor mission calls for high-speed information motion and intense calculation through the planetary touchdown sequence. Nevertheless, routine mobility and science operations require fewer calculations and duties per second. Microchip’s new processor structure affords the flexibleness for the processing energy to ebb and circulate relying on present operational necessities. Sure processing capabilities may also be turned off when not in use, decreasing energy consumption. This functionality will save a considerable amount of power and enhance general computing effectivity for area missions.

“Our present spaceflight computer systems have been developed nearly 30 years in the past,” stated Wesley Powell, NASA’s principal technologist for superior avionics. “Whereas they’ve served previous missions effectively, future NASA missions demand considerably elevated onboard computing capabilities and reliability. The brand new computing processor will present the advances required in efficiency, fault tolerance, and suppleness to fulfill these future mission wants.”

Microchip’s HPSC processor could also be helpful to different authorities companies and relevant to different sorts of future area mission to discover our photo voltaic system and past, from Earth science operations to Mars exploration and human lunar missions. The processor might probably be used for industrial programs on Earth that require comparable mission important edge computing wants as area missions and are in a position to safely proceed operations if one element of the system fails. These potential purposes embrace industrial automation, edge computing, time-sensitive Ethernet information transmission, synthetic intelligence, and even Web of Issues gateways, which bridge numerous communication applied sciences.

In 2021, NASA solicited proposals for a commerce examine for a complicated radiation-hardened computing chip with the intention of choosing one vendor for growth. This contract is a part of NASA’s High-Performance Space Computing venture. HPSC is led by the company’s House Know-how Mission Directorate’s Game Changing Development program with assist from the Science Mission Directorate. The venture is led by JPL, a division of Caltech in Pasadena.