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Design and Development of a Configurable Fault-Tolerant Processor (CFTP) for Space Applications

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Master's thesis

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The harsh radiation environment of space, the propensity for SEUs to perturb the operations of a silicon based electronics, the rapid development of microprocessor capabilities and hence software applications, and the high cost dollars and time to develop and prove a system, require flexible, reliable, low-cost, rapidly-developed system solutions. Consequently, a reconfigurable Triple Modular Redundant TMR System-on-a-Chip SOC utilizing Field Programmable Gate Arrays FPGAs provides a viable solution for space based systems. The Configurable Fault Tolerant Processor CFTP is such a system, designed specifically for the purpose of testing and evaluating, on orbit, the reliability of instantiated TMR soft-core microprocessors, as well as the ability to reconfigure the system to support any on board processor function. The CFTP maximizes the use of Commercial Off-The-Shelf COTS technology to investigate a low-cost, flexible alternative to processor hardware architecture, with a Total Ionizing Dose TID tolerant FPGA as the basis for a SOC. The flexibility of a configurable processor, based on FPGA technology, will en- able on-orbit upgrades, reconfigurations, and modifications to the architecture in order to support dynamic mission requirements. The CFTP payload consists of a Printed Circuit Board PCB of 5.3 inches x 7.3 inches utilizing a slightly modified PC104 bus interface. The initial FPGA configuration will be an instantiation of a TMR processor, with included Error Detection and Correction EDAC and memory controller circuitry. The PCB is designed with requisite supporting circuitry including a configuration controller FPGA, SDRAM, and Flash memory in order to allow the greatest variety of possible configurations. The CFTP is currently manifested as a Space Test Program STP experimental payload on the Naval Postgraduate Schools NPSAT1 and the United States Naval Academys MidSTAR-1 satellites.

Subject Categories:

  • Electrical and Electronic Equipment
  • Computer Hardware
  • Computer Systems

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