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Processor Enables On-the-Fly Reconfiguration in Space

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Space-based systems have unique challenges, chief among them is that there’s no way to access a system hands-on once it’s in orbit. Addressing just that issue, Atmel has announced the ATF697FF, the newest member of the Atmel SPARC V8 processor family and the industry’s first radiation-hardened (RAD Hard) high-performance aerospace microprocessor that can be reconfigured on-the-fly. The ability to reconfigure on-the-fly allows users to make on-going design modifications to satellites, including specification updates, in-flight adjustments during trial flights and post-launch alterations. 

The new ATF697FF integrates Atmel’s proven RAD Hard AT697F processor and reconfigurable ATF280F (FPGA) unit in a single multichip module (MCM). With this MCM solution approach, engineers can reduce overall system cost and save space on the printed circuit board. The ATF697FF adds the flexibility of a reprogrammable FPGA to the reliability of a powerful core processor running application software. It is ideal for systems that require reconfiguration of peripherals and interfaces, making it easy to comply and stay up-to-date with evolving standards that are used on many space missions, such as SpaceWire, CAN or IEEE1553. The flexibility of the ATF697FF processor is also beneficial for late design modifications performed on Earth, for in-flight adjustments on satellites and for space trial operations. 

The new solution combines an Atmel AT697F SPARC V8 RAD Hard processor with a RAD Hard ATF280F SRAM-based FPGA and an internal PCI link. The ATF697FF delivers best-in-class performance, running at up to 100 MHz, as well as low power, down to 0.7W, for space applications today. Atmel is currently engaging with alpha customers on the ATF697FF. The product is now available for prototyping and for flight model implementation at the end of 2012.

Atmel, San Jose, CA. (408) 441-0311. [].