Microchip Technology unveils what it’s calling the space industry’s first Arm-based microcontrollers (MCUs) that combine the low-cost and large ecosystem benefits of Commercial Off-the-Shelf (COTS) technology with space-qualified versions that have scalable levels of radiation performance. Based on the automotive-qualified SAMV71, the SAMV71Q21RT radiation-tolerant and SAMRH71 radiation-hardened MCUs implement the Arm Cortex-M7 System on Chip (SoC), enabling more integration, cost reduction and higher performance in space systems.
The SAMV71Q21RT and SAMRH71 allow software developers to begin implementation with the SAMV71 COTS device before moving to a space-grade component, significantly reducing development time and cost. Both devices can use the SAMV71’s full software development toolchain, as they share the same ecosystem including software libraries, Board Support Package (BSP), and Operating System (OS) first level of porting.
Once preliminary developments are complete on the COTS device, all software development can be swapped out to a radiation-tolerant or radiation hardened version in a high-reliability plastic package or space-grade ceramic package. The SAMV71Q21RT radiation-tolerant MCU reuses the full COTS mask set and offers pinout compatibility, making the transition from COTS to qualified space parts immediate.
While the SAMV71Q21RT’s radiation performance suits NewSpace applications such as Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite constellations and robotics, the SAMRH71 offers the radiation performance suited for more critical sub-systems like gyroscopes and star tracker equipment. The SAMV71Q21RT rad-tolerant device ensures an accumulated TID of 30Krad (Si) with latch up immunity and is nondestructive against heavy ions. Both devices are fully immune to Single-Event Latchup (SEL) up to 62 MeV.cm²/mg.
The SAMRH71 radiation-hardened MCU is designed for deep space applications and features an accumulated TID of more than 100 Krad (Si), no Single Event Upset (SEU) Linear Energy Transfer (LET) up to 20 MeV.cm²/mg, without system mitigation, and it’s designed for No Single-Event Functional Interrupts (SEFI), which secures all memories’ integrity
For design support, developers can use the ATSAMV71-XULT evaluation board. The devices are supported by Atmel Studio Integrated Development Environment (IDE) for developing, debugging, and software libraries. Both devices will also be supported in MPLAB Harmony version 3.0 by mid-2019.
The SAMRH71 in a CQFP256 ceramic package is sampling today, and the SAMV71Q21RT is available today in volume production quantities in four derivatives:
- SAMV71Q21RT-DHB-E in ceramic prototype QFP144 package
- SAMV71Q21RT-DHB-MQ in ceramic space-grade QFP144 package, QMLQ equivalent
- SAMV71Q21RT-DHB-SV in ceramic space-grade QFP144 package, QMLV equivalent
- SAMV71Q21RT-DHB-MQ in plastic QFP144 package, AQEC high reliability qualified