Advancing Aerospace & Defense Applications with the AMD Xilinx Versal ACAP

AMD Xilinx Versal ACAP @ Spirit Electronics

AMD Xilinx rolled out the first Adaptive Compute Acceleration Platform (ACAP) device in 2021. The high-reliability XQR and XQ Versal devices released in 2022 are qualified and ruggedized for military and aerospace applications, onboard computing and data processing is accelerating just when commercial space, low-Earth orbit missions, and New Space are booming.

With the speed of advancement in the A&D industry, adoption can be a challenge. Design, qualification and supporting technology can be important factors in taking advantage of a device with capabilities as intensive as the Versal.

What Can ACAP Do in A&D?

The Versal ACAP offers programmable logic capabilities beyond the FPGA. Where the FPGA required more hardware programming, the Versal platform allows for more advanced reconfiguration by incorporating artificial intelligence and machine learning. This increases computing power and flexibility while in orbit or in ops, allowing computing to adapt to mission needs.

Applications for satellite and commercial space missions include cloud and internet connectivity, high-speed networking, and greater data processing and control for radar, GPS and instrumentation. In-flight programming opens a wide range of possibilities for reconfiguration across the life of the mission.

Applied on ground and air defense operations, the Versal is optimized for sensor systems, networking, wireless data processing, and radar applications. Adaptable AI features allow reprogramming to adjust to new and evolving algorithms.

Versal Qualification for Defense

The XQ Versal uses ruggedized packaging options to protect device operations in harsh and high-reliability operations. AMD Xilinx has over 30 years of heritage in military and defense support, and the new XQ Versal includes design considerations unique to the industry.

The defense-grade Versal comes with MIL-STD-883 Group D qualification testing, with extended temperature range from –55°C to +125°C. Packaging meets MIL-PRF-38535 requirements for tin-lead (3% Pb) to protect solder from whiskering.

The XQ Versal package design also considers ease of assembly where military and defense applications often require conformal coating to protect the assembled board. The open-lid package is unique to the XQ Versal to simplify board assembly and prevent manufacturing chemicals from being trapped in the device before sealing.

AMD Xilinx includes anti-counterfeit laser marking, micro watermarking and 2D bar coding to advance supply chain security for Versal devices.

Versal Qualification for Space and New Space

The XQR Versal is radiation tolerant, ideal for low-Earth orbit environments common among satellite and commercial space programs. It is capable of supporting 5- to 7-year missions, allowing in-orbit reconfiguration and programming throughout the mission life. The XQR Versal is radiation tolerant to MIL-STD-883 Class B.

Ecosystem of Products to Support the Versal ACAP

The new ACAP approach to in-flight computing requires power, memory and an ecosystem of advanced components supporting the Versal. Spirit Electronics brings the best technical support in the business from our advanced OCMs to make sure your board design can support the Versal.

    • The Versal ACAP comes with a hardened integrated DDR Memory Controller (DDRMC) and includes programmable network on chip (NOC) for advanced interconnectivity. Performing inside the board ecosystem, any additional memory supporting the Versal must be DDR4 or more advanced memory. Spirit offers space-qualified DDR4 memory capable of supporting the Versal.

    • Texas Instruments power management ICs support the Versal’s higher-current processor loads. TI’s flight heritage also offers power management with rad-hard and rad-tolerant qualifications for components ready to fly space and harsh-environment missions.

The ACAP Moves A&D Forward

Building on the FPGA’s programmable logic and customizable applications, the Versal ACAP brings computing into the next evolution of AI and machine learning integration for faster, connected processing. As the volume of data in New Space and defense applications grows, the ACAP offers advanced processing to manage, communicate and adapt to demanding missions. With in-ops advanced reprogramming capabilities, the Versal ACAP extends mission life and success for aerospace and defense applications.

Improving Computing with Advanced Device Architecture

The 7nm Versal ACAP is fully programmable heterogeneous computing using Scalar, Adaptable, and Intelligent Engines that improve on previous AMD Xilinx FPGA and SoC devices for the highest- and fastest-performing programmable logic.

Laser Marking Microelectronics, Semiconductors & PCBs  for Supply Chain Security

Component & PCB Laser Marking

Why is laser marking an essential value-add service in A&D?

When you plan a test or assembly program with your service provider, how will you identify and track your components from the manufacturer to the final circuit board assembly? Aerospace has strict requirements for detailed documentation and part number specs, but is that paperwork trail enough?

Product markings on each component offer the most reliable method for ID and tracking through your supply chain and assembly. While aerospace has relied on ink marking or labeling in the past, high-tech laser marking is a superior option. 

Laser marking can be performed quickly and efficiently to custom specs as part of distribution, test programs or assembly programs.

High-Tech Laser Resolution, Precision & Control

Spirit’s Epilog FusionEdge laser machine uses a fiber optic cable to precisely direct a laser beam onto a component’s surface. Unlike a CO2 laser, there is no combustion where the fiber optic laser meets the surface, and therefore no heat exposure that can compromise a component’s functionality.

The laser draws alphanumeric identifiers, serial numbers, barcodes or images like logos. It etches and discolors the external component packaging with the computer programmed image to create a custom marking.

Laser Marking Corbin
Lab tech Corbin Pearson offers a laser marking demo

Programming & Customization

Epilog FusionEdge laser marking machine
Epilog Laser machine camera and precision controls

The laser marking is permanent and high-resolution, making the markings easily readable by manual inspection or automated scanners. The laser machine uses electronic programming, templates and image files to precisely direct the laser for each individual component or for uniform marking across multiple components. The customer can specify what markings are required and in what configuration and location.

Alignment & Depth Control

Automation and a camera positioning system control the laser alignment and depth for accurate mark placement. The depth control of the laser etching is particularly important to protect package integrity and the internal component, especially as components are becoming smaller and lighter.

Precision depth control of the laser mark allows an etched mark that is just deep enough to be legible and permanent without going so deep as to damage the package seal or potentially etch the interior of the component.

Laser mark depth range

Production Control & Traceability

Most electronic components come marked with part numbers or lot information from the original manufacturer. Parts may undergo additional services, testing or qualification, and finally, assembly onto a circuit board before ever reaching the end customer. 

Testing High-Reliability Parts

Whether the component is going into stock or directly onto a board, the end customer needs to be able to trace its origin back to the OEM. If a part receives modifications or testing, it needs to be differentiated from any original manufacturer product or stock. While part and lot numbers and documentation can help with identification, a custom laser marking on the parts is a physical insurance that serviced parts are identifiable.

Just as important are markings for rejected parts. Parts undergoing destructive testing or parts that fail testing or screening for hi-rel applications should never be mixed back into stock. Laser marking these components is an additional insurance that rejects are physically segregated and will not be used and ultimately fail in production.

Purchasing data and documents can trace a product, designate any testing or modifications performed and identify service providers. However, laser marking makes it possible to track very step with physical part markings. Customers can add lot codes or customer part numbers to a component to differentiate parts receiving services from original stock. 

Circuit Board Marking

PCBs (printed circuit boards) can also be physically laser marked for traceability of the overall assembly. Customers often need their own product marking and logo at this stage. 

A service provider with a laser marker can ensure this step happens on-site at the contract manufacturer before the board is shipped. The customer receives the finished board ready to use with full traceability and their own unique identifiers and logos.

Circuit boards
Assembled circuit cards

Laser: the Superior Marking Method

Aerospace part marking methods include other options like ink and labeling, but laser marking offers a permanent physical mark on the component package that remains legible over time. Even after a part leaves the warehouse and has to perform in harsh environments, the mark is physically etched on the surface and less susceptible to erosion and fading. 

Ink: Old-school ink marking often required custom tools to print an image in ink onto a component package. The ink marking had to be tested for resistance to solvents and was at risk of fading, smudging, or fading in the long run. 

Labels: Adhesive labels, another tracking method, have to leave minimal residue on high-reliability packaging. At the same time, they can be peeled off or tampered with and are at risk for physical wear, damage or friction peeling.

Spirit Laser Mark with laser flash
Laser marking is effective on plastic and metal surfaces.

Ink marking and label ink can fade or smudge over time, causing errors in manual reading or barcode scanning. Laser marking does not leave any residue or FOD. Laser Marking templates and controls are digital and customizable, reducing the materials needed to perform the marking. 

Since the mark is etched into the component surface, there is no risk of a laser mark fading, smudging, peeling or becoming illegible over time.

Counterfeit Prevention

Laser marking is harder to remove or alter than ink or labels. Secure digital programing and image file exchanges with a trusted service provider guarantee customer marks and logos are authentic, consistent and legible. 

Whether tracing a marked component back to the OEM or on a completed circuit board, laser marking offers physical part identification that is more difficult to counterfeit. While counterfeiters may attempt to sand off markings or add characters to a part number, they lack the accuracy and digital controls to cover a marking or uniformly alter it.

Customers working with trusted supply chain providers with authorized distribution and relationships with the OEM can ensure custom laser marking is uniform in fonts, placement, sizing and imaging. There is no need for solvent testing a laser marking for permanence. Customers can trust that parts laser marked in their program are authentic.

Stand-Alone Laser Marking & Program Add-Ons

Laser marking can be performed quickly and in high volume with no impact to lead times, making it cost-efficient and easy to add as a step in any service program. 

Spirit’s laser marking is performed in our warehouse alongside our other on-site value-add services. Marking products on-site as soon as work is performed offers the best traceability and product control.

microelectronics laser marking
Laser mark detail

Efficient laser marking can also be an easy-to-add step in more complex supply chain programs. Supply programs in aerospace can include processes such as:

Laser marking parts that undergo these programs allows a customer to differentiate parts from base-level OEM components. 

Laser Marking Offers Efficient Traceability & Control

Customers may not physically mark components until parts arrive in their warehouse. They need laser marking processes to be quality controlled and meet supply chain security expectations for logo and image controls. Without the right type of laser marking with the right digital controls, a laser can etch too deep or too hot and damage a high-reliability or sensitive component.

In a worst-case inventory scenario, a large warehouse may lose track of which components receive value-added services if services are only tracked by paperwork or electronic management. Down the line, parts in flight on a board may need to be traced, and individual components may be difficult to trace if they are only marked by the OEM. For specialized and custom hi-rel boards, this traceability matters much more than for mass-produced commercial boards.

microelectronics laser marking
Laser mark detail

As with many supply chain services in aerospace and defense, laser marking offers a level of insurance to protect your part, your assembly, and ultimately your mission. Spirit’s laser marking process is quality controlled, and we work closely with our customers to mark parts securely and within the bounds of product safety. 

With a trusted laser marking process performed right at your electronics distribution source, you add a level of physical traceability and part ID to maintain care, custody and control of your product from the minute it is delivered on your dock.

Get a Quote for Laser Marking

Spirit: Behind the Screen podcast

Podcast Ep. 36: Laser Marking for Microelectronic Traceability: What We Can Mark and Why

In this episode of our Behind the Screen podcast, Spirit’s Lab Technician Corbin Pearson joins Marti McCurdy to talk about our Epliog fiber laser machine. Corbin explains that the laser marker can be programmed for depth of the marking as well as placement and automated serialization for multiple parts in a lot or tray.

The Four Pillars of Protection You Need Against EMP/HEMP Damage in Ep. 24

Four Pillars of Protection You Need Against EMP/HEMP Damage

We’re talking high-altitude electromagnetic pulse (HEMP) on this week’s episode 24 of Spirit: Behind the Screen. HEMP is a particularly devastating type of electromagnetic pulse (EMP) caused by a nuclear detonation above the Earth’s atmosphere. Dan Rebeck, HEMP/EMP product expert with Infinite Electronics, explains this generates 3 EMP waves: a “triple whammy” that can damage electronic systems in our power grid, data networks, communications, and critical infrastructure.

HEMP/EMP Solutions Consider Your Whole System

HEMP events aren’t the only type of EMP capable of damaging electronics. Natural EMP events like lightning or solar flares or other man-caused events like local sabotage could also compromise sensitive electronics.

You might picture electronics being fried by a lightning zap, but minor damage from an EMP can also compromise an electronic system’s reliability over time. You may not notice minor damage until later when a system fails.

But Dan doesn’t leave us with a doomsday scenario. Infinite brands Transtector and PolyPhaser offer products that you can implement as system-level protections against HEMP and EMP to meet government recommendations. Dan breaks these product categories down to the Four Pillars of Hardening.

How you use the Four Pillars will depend on the electronics you need to protect from EMP/HEMP, how critical your systems are, and what kind of outage risk you can tolerate. Personalized solutions can protect everything from our nuclear codes to residential homes.

HEMP EMP Pillars of Protection Surge Filtering Shielding Grounding


Grounding offers a connection to the Earth, allowing a surge of electromagnetic energy to drain out to the ground. The best example of this is lightning, which is electromagnetic energy that moves through a system looking for a connection to the ground. Grounding directs the energy to the Earth ground and away from sensitive electronics connected to a network through power or data lines.

Surge Protection

Surge protection, according to Dan, is the most important pillar of the four. A surge protector is a neutral part of an electronic system during day-to-day operations. But when it detects a high voltage greater than what the system can handle, it kicks into action. The surge protector opens a low-impedance path that connects to the Earth ground. This path diverts the high voltage to the ground, protecting electronics connected downstream in the system.


“Filtering changes the wave shape of the pulse coming into your facility,” says Dan. “It can slow the EMP down a little bit and can give your surge protector a chance to take more of it away from the system.” Filtering doesn’t stop the EMP. It disrupts it to weaken the EMP to make it possible for your other protection measures to handle the wave.


In theory, you could build a full shield to stop an EMP from entering an electronic system. But most of our systems need outside connections to power and data to function. Our electronics need to receive and communicate data in order to operate.

Shielding a building or system to protect against EMP must be used in tandem with the other pillars to be effective. Transtector and PolyPhaser offer surge protection that can be mounted to a shield for higher protection needs. Shielded boxes and cabinets can also provide protection to strategic parts of your system.

HEMP/EMP Protection that Works for Your Application

These Four Pillars can work together to harden your system against damage from a HEMP/EMP event. The exact products you need to put in place around your electronics depends on your applications, how critical your operations are, and how much downtime you can tolerate.

Spirit is an authorized reseller of Transtector and PolyPhaser products, and we can work with you to design a hardened solution to protect your electronics from HEMP and EMP.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of our podcast interview with Dan Rebeck publishing September 20. In the meantime, you can hear all about HEMP and EMP in Part 1.

Ep. 23: Which Electrical Tests Do I Need for My Component?

Spirit’s Sean Macdonald is chatting with Marti this week on our Spirit: Behind the Screen podcast about how to determine the electrical testing and ranges you need to run a successful component test program.

Tailor Electrical Tests to Application Requirements

Product applications in aerospace and defense run the gamut from a missile performing for mere seconds to a satellite surviving in low earth orbit for 5 years. The test and qualification needs for parts on these applications vary wildly. That’s why Spirit’s testing services start with an in-depth discussion around what your application is and in which conditions you need your components to perform.

Sean talks about two approaches: the data sheet vs the source control drawing. You may be working from a source control drawing that details tests and ranges you’ve been measuring for years. Or you may be working from a product’s data sheet that offers performance specs, but you need to know if the product can truly perform at the extremes.

“We can screen to that type of depth within each component, but in a lot of cases that tends to be overkill,” says Sean. “It’s a lot more cost and effort and time than what might be required. So our preference is to really engage with the customer and understand exactly what is your mission.”

Understanding Requirements to Drive Efficiency

When working to specs and standards, there can be an “it’s always been done this way” mentality. If your electrical test parameters are chosen just because your workflow has always run that way, you may be running more tests than needed for your specific application.

With the right testing partner, you can find ways to tease out electrical performance in the exact range that you need to eliminate extra cost and shorten your production schedule. Spirit can even produce a custom data sheet and part number to support your unique test flow.

“We certainly understand the amount of time and engineering support and effort and internal cost for our customers to develop these types of data sheets,” says Sean. “We’ll put the technical data sheets and documentation in place for you. Your procurement team just needs to order this dash part number, and that tells us to perform all of the specified screening.”

More Tips in Episode 23!

Listen in to this week’s episode for more insight on how to streamline electrical testing and give your production schedule and budget a boost. And if you’re interested in working on a custom workflow, you can reach out to Spirit for a quote or check out our full offering of test services.

Roadmap to Zero Defects

Roadmap to Zero Defects

ELES uses Reliability Embedded Test Engineering (RETE) to help manufacturers improve their semiconductor design and component reliability. In the latest episode of our Spirit: Behind the Screen podcast, Marco Paolucci and Marti McCurdy discuss how the ELES approach is a safety net to prevent dangerous product failures. 

ELES is an Italian manufacturer of test equipment and systems that exercise and qualify semiconductors around the world. Marco Paolucci is the sales and business development director delivering the ELES zero defect goal to Spirit and the US.

Marco explains how the ELES approach is a safety net to prevent dangerous product failures.

Your test and qualification process is only as good as your test equipment. Not only is Spirit building out a test lab with the best equipment on the market, but we are also offering capital equipment sales to support your test programs. Visit to learn more.

Zef Malik and Bridging the Gap: How Testing Adds Value in the Supply Chain

Bridging the Gap between Manufacturer and Customer

In Episode 4 of Behind the Screen podcast, Zef describes how the manufacturer’s goal is to build and design quality into their product, while the customer may have more demanding specs and tests to meet for military verification. As a value-add distributor, Spirit supports a dynamic supply chain between the manufacturer and our customer. Our role as a distributor in product screening is to bridge that gap between manufacturer and customer. But it’s not just making sure that the tests are run to the standard. Zef and Marti discuss how adding value includes the relationship and process knowledge we share with the manufacturer and understanding the performance needs of the customer. Zef explains the value in delivering a customer all the product verification controls they’re looking for with a big-picture understanding of inventory management, time and cost savings, and predictability. Marti wraps up the chat by explaining that this global view and Spirit’s ownership of product warranty is what we call “Owning the Qual.

Listen to the podcast.