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.

TI Space Enhanced Plastic Rad-Tolerant Products Offer Ready-to-Use Space-Grade Solution

TI Space EP @ Spirit rad-tolerant space grade for New Space applications

A new space race is taking off, and Texas Instruments’ space-grade rad-tolerant Space Enhanced Plastics (Space EP) line is positioned to meet New Space mission needs. With private and commercial companies launching space programs and satellite constellations that build on decades of NASA experience, design, and range, we are seeing our customers’ launch schedules and builds pick up speed.

Unlike the deep space missions of the past, our customers are innovating New Space applications for low Earth orbit (LEO) with shorter mission life. But with the influx of innovation comes tight launch schedules and competitive component markets. Customers are weighing decisions to cut production costs and explore commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) alternatives to space-grade components.

New Space Program Risks and Challenges

Spirit’s new test lab and value-added screening services come with decades of experience in radiation and QMLV testing. We know upscreening COTS components poses a significant failure risk. Component failures can delay build and launch schedules, add significant cost to replace parts or even cause full mission failure if a satellite fails in orbit.

This is where TI’s Space Enhanced Plastics line offers a ready-to-use option for reliable space-grade performance. TI already has extensive QMLV product expertise and knows that New Space demands performance while also keeping production competitive, agile, and fast. TI Space EP products mitigate the risk and meet New Space mission goals. You don’t have to sacrifice reliability to meet budget.

Spirit: Behind the Screen podcast

Texas Instruments Space EP: Rad-Tolerant Products for New Space and LEO Missions

Listen to Marti's interview with TI's GM of A&D Gary Reichmuth on this Spirit: Behind the Screen podcast episode. This deep dive on the Space EP product line covers TI's comprehensive product quals and the importance of radiation lot acceptance testing.

Qualified and Reliable Space-Grade Screening

TI Space EP products come with radiation screening, thermal cycling and outgassing right out of the box. There is no need to perform any additional screening. Because TI performs all screening as the OEM, your components arrive with lot data and documentation with full traceability.

In LEO applications, components quickly cycle from hot to cold environments as they orbit the Earth. TI’s parametric testing is performed at room and high temperatures with guard banding for cold temperatures. Products come with 100% temperature cycle characterized to the military temperature range of -55° to over 125°.

Outgassing is performed to ASTM E595, which is essential for plastic packaging that introduces organic compounds. In a space environment, these compounds have the potential to outgas and negatively impact component performance. This is especially true in optics where condensation can obscure lenses and affect sensors.

Plastic Packaging and Material Quality in Space

Plastic packaging offers significant advantages in New Space. Instead of hermetically sealed ceramic, plastic allows more design options and smaller sizing. Plastic reduces product costs without compromising performance. In fact, in our recent podcast interview with TI, GM Gary Reichmuth explained that plastic improves performance because it doesn’t have degradation due to the parasitic loss associated with ceramic packaging.

Plastic isn’t the only material advantage in Space EP products. TI uses gold bond wire to avoid the risks of copper wire. And while pure tin is common in COTS parts, TI Space EP uses less than 97% tin terminations and internal materials to mitigate the risk of whiskering in harsh space environments.

TI Space EP production uses one wafer fab, assembly site, and material set to offer the best control and traceability of materials. While avoiding the variations possible with multiple fabs and sources, this control also allows TI to perform radiation lot acceptance testing on every wafer lot.

Radiation Characterization and Rad-Tolerant Solutions

While radiation hardening is a hallmark in high-reliability, this can add significant expense to any space-grade component. But rather than compromise reliability, TI’s Space EP line considers the shorter mission life span and lower cumulative radiation environment of LEO missions. The result is radiation-tolerant products, characterized with radiation lot acceptance testing (RLAT) to 20 krad. TI tests both the total ionizing dose as well as single event latch up to 43 MeV.

In TI’s experience, radiation performance can vary from lot to lot but also from wafer to wafer inside a lot. TI performs radiation characterization across each lot to avoid this variation, further reducing failure risks. In comparison, COTS products and other manufacturers may only trace back to the wafer lot.

Products in the Space EP Line

The Space EP product family currently includes

data converters, power devices, comparators, transceivers, digital isolators, current sense amplifiers, RF synthesizers, linear and low-dropout regulators and supervisors. New space-grade products are expected to release in the next 12-18 months, offering an even wider variety of plastic options available to the New Space industry.

TI Space EP @ Spirit Electronics: TI's Only Authorized SDB Reseller

Spirit is uniquely positioned as TI’s only authorized SDB reseller, and we offer award-winning experience managing full BOM, logistics, and program support for LEO space programs. For agile production and build timelines, we can manage your component pipeline to make sure you launch on time and meet your mission goals. TI’s Space EP rad-tolerant products are reliable and high quality out of the box, and Spirit can get that box to you.