“Partial Reconfiguration Across FPGAs”

Steve Wichman
Redefine Technologies


The FPGA redundancy analysis being performed by Redefine Technologies, along with researchers at the University of Colorado, uses three different redundancy methods to decrease the susceptibility of a spacecraft (on a mission survivability level ) to electronic failures anywhere throughout the spacecraft. This analysis is a NASA Phase I STTR called Triple3 Redundant Spacecraft Subsystems (T3RSS). By using Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) chips, we have analyzed the spacecraft-wide benefits of:

These three methods of triplication should significantly increase the reliability of non-radiation hardened designs, which should allow commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) processing components to be considered as flight critical hardware. The analysis that was performed predicts an increased benefit to any future spacecraft whether it uses radiation hardened components or not. The T3RSS concept has an opportunity to fly on-board a Colorado Space Grant student-designed mission about the 2008 timeframe to prove the design.

The concept of partial reconfiguration across FPGAs proves to be a significant factor that allows designers to maintain 100% mission survivability even using COTS components. The demonstration being provided to NASA Ames Research Center shows that other components in a spacecraft that were designed to do the tasks for their own subsystems can provide the backup capabilities required should a failure render any other component unusable. Redefine Technologies' "code migration" method ensures that all essential tasks will be moved from a non-functioning FPGA to another subsystem's FPGA without a loss of mission and at a significant cost savings both in design and testing time. Eliminating backup components will even reduce weight and volume in some instances on future spacecraft.

This paper outlines the following key issues:


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