"The Scalable Configurable Instrument Processor"

John R. Hayes
Johns Hopkins University / Applied Physics Laboratory


Scientific instruments designed for space flight require a radiation-hardened processor that provides reasonable performance with minimal power consumption. The number of processors that meet these requirements is small and diminishing. Given the increasing capability of rad-hard Field-Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) and the maturity of hardware synthesis tools, we decided to develop our own processor.

This paper describes the Scalable Configurable Instrument Processor (SCIP). SCIP is a stack processor. Stack processors allow efficient instruction encoding. The majority of SCIPís instruction opcodes are 16 bits. The instruction encoding keeps program volume small for instrument applications. Stack processors are also good targets for simple compilers. The data path is scalable: 16-bit or 32-bit versions of SCIP can be instantiated. The processor is easily configured with instrument-specific peripherals using the Advanced Microcontroller Bus Architecture (AMBA). This paper describes the processorís architecture and specific FPGA implementation results.


2005 MAPLD International Conference Home Page