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Rad-Hard RISC Microprocessor Tests Successfully

Earlier this year, IDEAS Engineering & Technology received the first units of their new Space-Hardened Processor, SHARP, in ceramic PGA packages. SHARP is a radiation-hardened, 32-bit RISC microprocessor intended for high-reliability systems in space applications.

The first SHARP prototypes passed functional testing in late 2018 and successfully underwent radiation testing at Kirtland Air Force Base (KAFB) in New Mexico. Heavy ion testing is scheduled for 2019Q3, where IDEAS-TEK’s engineers will gather information about the processor’s resistance to single event effects (SEEs).

SHARP represents a low-cost alternative to the expensive, qualified radiation-hardened components currently on the market. With first-run prototypes clocking in at 50 MHz, the processor is primarily intended for control and monitoring functions, where its reliability, low power consumption and small size will be advantageous.

IDEAS-TEK engineer Will Burke discussed further plans, saying, “The next step will be completing a testing and development platform for the packaged parts that just arrived.”

After further testing, IDEAS-TEK plans to make SHARP commercially available by 2019Q4. IDEAS-TEK currently offers SHARP soft cores and reference designs for Xilinx and Microsemi FPGAs that can be used for development and flight.

UPDATE: A second generation of SHARP is currently in tape-out. This version integrates rad-hard memory into the microprocessor die with planned commercial availability by 2020Q4.


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