18 Jan 2017

Xilinx FPGAs deployed in launch of Iridium NEXT satellites

Xilinx has announced that hundreds of its Space Grade FPGAs were deployed in the launch of the Iridium NEXT satellites.

Space Grade Virtex-5QV devices provide scalability and flexibility for new applications and innovations throughout its operational life in space. Iridium NEXT is the company’s next-generation satellite constellation, replacing and enhancing its existing network of low-Earth orbit satellites spanning the entire globe – the largest commercial satellite constellation in space. The inaugural launch of the first ten Iridium NEXT Satellites occurred on Jan. 14, 2017.

The Iridium NEXT satellite has several Space Grade Virtex-5QV devices included on the On Board Processor (OBP) hardware delivered by SEAKR Engineering. The OBP delivers a processing capability of ~1 TFLOP and is an integral element in the Iridium NEXT Reconfigurable Fault-Tolerant Communication Processor. The OBP represents the highest performance reconfigurable processor in space to-date.

“The re-configurability of Xilinx’s Space Grade Virtex-5QV FPGA enables Iridium NEXT to continue in-orbit integration of future advancements and innovations throughout its operational lifetime, providing scalability and flexibility for potential new applications not yet envisioned,” said Eric Anderson, president at SEAKR Engineering.

“Xilinx is proud to play a key role in the state-of-the-art Iridium NEXT program integrating hundreds of Space Grade Virtex-5QV FPGAs into the latest Iridium NEXT satellites,” said Yousef Khalilollahi, vice president of the aerospace and defense business at Xilinx. Xilinx’s participation in the Iridium NEXT communication satellites further solidifies its extensive heritage in providing re-configurable high capacity Space Grade FPGAs to the latest Space applications.”

Virtex-5QV FPGAs are built on the second-generation ASMBL column-based architecture of the Virtex-5 family with support in Xilinx's ISE Design Suite. Virtex-5QV FPGAs integrate many of the same hard-IP system-level blocks, such as flexible 36-Kbit/18-Kbit block RAM/FIFOs, second generation 25x18 DSP slices, power-optimized high-speed serial transceiver blocks for enhanced serial connectivity, and PCI Express compliant integrated Endpoint blocks. The Virtex-5QV device offers 130,000 logic cells, 320 DSP Slices supporting fixed and floating point operations, and 836 user I/Os programmable to more than 30 different standards for applications and ease of interfacing to a wide variety of system components. The Virtex-5QV device also provides the first integrated high-speed connectivity solution for space with 18 channels of 4.25Gbps multi-gigabit serial transceivers for chip-to-chip, board-to-board and box-to-box communication. The radiation-hardened version of the commercial Xilinx Virtex-5 FPGA was developed under sponsorship by AFRL's Space Vehicles Directorate.

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