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64 bit Computer Architectures for Space Applications – A study

Authors: Niveditha Domse, Kris Kumar, K. N. Balasubramanya Murthy


The more recent satellite projects/programs makes extensive usage of real – time embedded systems. 16 bit processors which meet the Mil-Std-1750 standard architecture have been used in on-board systems. Most of the Space Applications have been written in ADA. From a futuristic point of view, 32 bit/ 64 bit processors are needed in the area of spacecraft computing and therefore an effort is desirable in the study and survey of 64 bit architectures for space applications. This will also result in significant technology development in terms of VLSI and software tools for ADA (as the legacy code is in ADA). There are several basic requirements for a special processor for this purpose. They include Radiation Hardened (RadHard) devices, very low power dissipation, compatibility with existing operational systems, scalable architectures for higher computational needs, reliability, higher memory and I/O bandwidth, predictability, realtime operating system and manufacturability of such processors. Further on, these may include selection of FPGA devices, selection of EDA tool chains, design flow, partitioning of the design, pin count, performance evaluation, timing analysis etc. This project deals with a brief study of 32 and 64 bit processors readily available in the market and designing/ fabricating a 64 bit RISC processor named RISC MicroProcessor with added functionalities of an extended double precision floating point unit and a 32 bit signal processing unit acting as co-processors. In this paper, we emphasize the ease and importance of using Open Core (OpenSparc T1 Verilog RTL) and Open “Source" EDA tools such as Icarus to develop FPGA based prototypes quickly. Commercial tools such as Xilinx ISE for Synthesis are also used when appropriate.

Keywords: RISC MicroProcessor, RPC – RISC Processor Core, PBX – Processor to Block Interface part of the Interconnection Network, BPX – Block to Processor Interface part of the Interconnection Network, FPU – Floating Point Unit, SPU – Signal Processing Unit, WB – Wishbone Interface, CTU – Clock and Test Unit

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