by By Gary Seely, Microsemi Prototyping Solutions manager at Aldec, and Minh Nguyen, senior marketing manager, space at Microsemi Corporation
Reprogrammable prototyping solutions for radiation-tolerant (rad-tolerant), one-time programmable field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) used in an application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC)-verification-like design flow can help keep costs down when developing digital circuitry for space applications.
Harsh environment for electronics
Space is an extremely harsh environment for electronic components, particularly in light of high levels of ionizing radiation and radiation-induced single event effects (SEEs). For digital and mixed-signal electronics, the effects of cosmic radiation fall broadly into two categories: permanent and temporary.
Permanent effects include single event latch-ups (SELs), configuration upsets causing permanent loss to a device’s functionality such as those seen in static random access memory (SRAM) FPGAs, and damages when devices’ total ionizing dose (TID) ratings are exceeded. Temporary effects include single event upsets (SEUs), single event transients (SETs), and single event functional interrupts (SEFIs). Though temporary, they are still a cause for concern, as an SEU could have an immediate effect on the output state of a device relied on for control or it could change the logic state of a memory cell later relied upon for a mission-critical function...
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