NASA has selected the American company Microchip Technology to develop a high-performance spaceflight computing processor (HPSC) that will provide at least 100 times the computing capacity of current spaceflight computers.
The next-generation processor would advance all types of future space missions, from planetary exploration to lunar and Martian surface missions.
“This state-of-the-art spaceflight processor will have a huge impact on our future space missions and even on technologies here on Earth,” said Niki Werkheiser, director of technology maturation at the Space Technology Missions Directorate at headquarters. NASA in Washington, in a statement.
“This effort will amplify existing spacecraft capabilities and enable new ones and could ultimately be used by virtually all future space missions, all benefiting from more capable flight computing,” Werkheiser added.
Microchip will build, design and supply the HPSC processor over three years, with the goal of using the processor in future lunar and planetary exploration missions.
Microchip’s processor architecture will significantly improve the overall computing efficiency of these missions by allowing computing power to be scalable, based on mission needs. The design will also be more reliable and have higher fault tolerance.
As part of NASA’s ongoing commercial partnership efforts, the work will be conducted under a $50 million firm fixed price contract, with Microchip contributing significant research and development costs to complete the project.
“We are delighted that NASA has selected Microchip as a partner to develop the next-generation space-qualified compute processor platform,” said Babak Samimi, vice president of Microchip’s Communications Business Unit.
The platform “will provide full Ethernet networking, advanced artificial intelligence/machine learning processing, and connectivity support while delivering unprecedented performance gain, fault tolerance, and low-power security,” added Samimi.
Microchip’s HPSC processor may also be useful to other government agencies and applicable to other types of future space missions to explore our solar system and beyond, from Earth science operations to Mars exploration and human lunar missions.
The processor could potentially be used for commercial systems on Earth that require advanced computing requirements similar to space missions and are able to continue operations safely if a system component fails.
These potential applications include industrial automation, edge computing, time-sensitive Ethernet data transmission, artificial intelligence, and even Internet of Things gateways, which bridge various communication technologies.
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NASA and Microchip to develop next-generation computer processor for spaceflight – Attractive Area
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