Flexible high-speed data networking for space applications

March 07, 2016 // By Graham Prophet
Rapid evaluation and deployment of STAR-Dundee’s SpaceWire and SpaceFibre networks is enabled by Microsemi’s RTG4 FPGAs; the collaboration is supporting, Microsemi says, spacecraft market growth due to increased need for sophisticated payload electronics

Microsemi and STAR-Dundee Ltd, an aerospace company focused on spacecraft onboard data-handling and processing technology, have announced a collaboration to provide SpaceWire and SpaceFibre network technology using Microsemi’s RTG4 high-speed signal processing radiation-tolerant field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs).


STAR-Dundee specialises in supporting users and developers of SpaceWire and SpaceFibre, which are data-handling networks for onboard satellites and spacecraft. SpaceWire is being used on many spacecraft by agencies, research organisations and the space industry worldwide, including European Space Agency (ESA), NASA and Japan Aerospace eXploration Agency (JAXA). SpaceFibre is an emerging standard that provides a high-speed serial data-link for high data-rate payloads, complementing the speed, simplicity, flexibility and interoperability capabilities of SpaceWire.


Microsemi’s RTG4 FPGAs are the only devices of their kind to feature embedded SpaceWire clock recovery circuits. These circuits allow designers to achieve SpaceWire clock and data recovery at data rates up to 400 Mbit/secs. RTG4 also offers high-speed SerDes transceiver capabilities to enable SpaceFibre to operate at data transfer rates beyond 2.5 Gbit/sec. STAR-Dundee has demonstrated its SpaceWire and SpaceFibre intellectual property (IP) cores using Microsemi’s RTG4 Development Kit, with SpaceWire IP running at over 200 Mbit/sec, and its next-generation SpaceFibre IP running at 2.5 Gbit/sec.


With STAR-Dundee’s technology and expertise creating an easier process for space designers using RTG4 ( Pictured above; a Microsemi FPGA development board with mating SpaceWire/SpaceFibre board, an FPGA mezzanine card designed to add support for SpaceWire and SpaceFibre interfaces ). Target applications for Microsemi’s FPGAs include satellites, space launch vehicles, planetary orbiters and landers, and deep space probes. SpaceWire IP is widely used for spacecraft data-handling whereas SpaceFibre is a new technology that provides higher data rates, integrated quality of service and fault detection, isolation and recovery. These advanced capabilities make SpaceFibre suitable for a wide range of spacecraft onboard applications including integrated payload data-handling, attitude and orbit control networks, and launcher applications, where deterministic data delivery is required.