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Atmel Introduces New Rad-Hard SPARC Processor For Space Industry

Atmel introduced the AT697, a new generation of radiation hardened 32-bit SPARC processors (V8) for the space industry developed with the support of the European Space Agency (ESA).

Compared to the former SPARC processors, the AT697 improves the speed versus power consumption ratio by eight, providing the spacecraft computers with an increased calculation capacity in a three-time smaller package. The AT697 is also software compatible with the previous Atmel SPARC processors including the SPARC V7 TSC695F , which are today widely used in flight as the central component of the spacecraft computers. This allows engineers to re-use any software application that has been developed with Atmel's previous SPARC processors, with the benefit of the AT697 higher performance.

The AT697 processor implements the LEON2 FT (fault tolerant) VHDL model owned by ESA, the European Space Agency. It is produced on Atmel's 0.18µm CMOS process in Atmel's France manufacturing site. It includes a SPARC V8 Integer Unit, a Floating Point Unit, separate instruction and data caches, a PCI interface and a flexible memory controller that can interface with SRAM, PROM and SDRAM.

To smooth the engineers' task, the design is fully static and highly testable thanks to a boundary scan through a JTAG interface. And a dedicated Debug Support Unit will ease the software debugging. The AT697 operates with 1.8-Volt and 3.3-Volt power supplies for the core and the I/O buffers, respectively. It delivers 86 MIPs (Dhrystone 2.1) and 23 MFlops (Whetstone) at 100 MHz. The ratio between performance and power consumption reaches a value as high as 150 MIPs/W, the power consumption being 7 mW/MHz.

To prevent erroneous operations resulting from Single Event Upset and Single Event Transient errors, it implements a set of protection features including Triple Modular Redundancy, error correction and detection (EDAC) or parity checks on internal memories and EDAC on external memories. The first version of this processor has been tested successfully against total dose up to 100 krads and its single event latch-up threshold is higher than 70 MeV/(mg/cm2).

The AT697 samples are available now. The current version of the processor (AT697E) will be delivered tested to military quality flow (QML-Q) for some ESA projects by the end of 2005. At the end of 2006, the AT697 processor flight models will be delivered tested to either QML Q & V or ESCC quality flows. This second version of the AT697 processor will have improved radiation capabilities, up to 300 krads.

Source: Atmel

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