Xilinx Launches Industry’s First 20-Nanometer Space-Grade FPGA

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  • The company has started shipping mechanical samples and prototype units of this FPGA
  • Xilinx said that this FPGA brings high-performance machine learning (ML) to space for the first time

Xilinx has announced the launch of industry’s first 20-nanometer (nm) space-grade FPGA. Dubbed Kintex UltraScale XQRKU060, this FPGA, as the company informed, delivers full radiation tolerance and ultra-high throughput and bandwidth performance for satellite and space applications.

“With our extensive history in developing leading-edge, radiation tolerant technology and deploying this in reliable space-grade solutions, Xilinx continues its lead with the launch of the world’s most advanced process node for space. The 20nm RT Kintex UltraScale FPGA is breaking industry standards and setting a new benchmark for meeting the high compute requirements of high bandwidth payloads, space exploration and research missions,” said Minal Sawant, space systems architect, Aerospace and Defense Vertical Marketing, at Xilinx.

Flight units of the 20nm RT Kintex UltraScale space-grade XQRKU060-1CNA1509 FPGA will be available in Xilinx Class B and Class Y test flows per the MIL-PRF-38535, beginning in September of this year. The company has started shipping mechanical samples and prototype units already.

Unlimited on-orbit reconfiguration

The new 20nm Radiation Tolerant (RT) Kintex UltraScale XQRKU060 FPGA provides true unlimited on-orbit reconfiguration, over a10x increase in digital signal processing (DSP) performance. It also brings high performance machine learning (ML) to space for the first time. A diverse portfolio of ML development tools supporting industry standard frameworks, including TensorFlow and PyTorch, enable neural network inference acceleration for real-time on-board processing in space with a complete “process and analyze” solution.

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The XQRKU060’s provides 5.7 tera operations per second (TOPs) of peak INT8 performance optimized for deep learning

“Building on Xilinx’s space heritage and highly successful 65nm space-grade devices, the launch of the first 20nm part for space applications advances the space industry by three process node generations. It delivers a significant reduction in size, weight and power, and is engineered with robust radiation tolerant features. The XQRKU060 provides customers with a space-resilient device equipped to handle both short and long duration missions in harsh space environments,” read Xilinx’s official statement.

It continued, “The XQRKU060 is the industry’s only true unlimited on-orbit reconfigurable solution. The on-orbit reconfiguration capabilities, together with real-time on-board processing and ML acceleration, allows satellites to update in real-time, deliver video-on-demand, and perform compute “on-the-fly” to process complex algorithms.”

The ML capabilities are suitable to a variety of problems spanning scientific analysis, object detection, and image classification – such as cloud detection – enabling improved processing efficiency and reduced decision latency both in space and on the ground. As protocols and applications progressively change, the adaptive compute architecture of the XQRKU060 allows unlimited on-orbit reconfiguration to enable customers to perform last-minute product updates prior to launch, as well as after it has been deployed in orbit.

Equipped with 2,760 UltraScale DSP slices

The XQRKU060 offers rich DSP capabilities optimized for dense power-efficient compute. It is equipped with 2,760 UltraScale DSP slices and provides up to 1.6 TeraMACs of signal processing compute, more than a 10X increase compared to the prior generation, as well as dramatic efficiency gains for floating point computations. The increased compute capability in space is paired with massive I/O bandwidth from 32 high-speed transceivers (SerDes) that can run up to 12.5Gbps to deliver 400Gbps aggregate bandwidth.

“SEAKR Engineering has collaborated with Xilinx for 15 years to consistently achieve challenging mission objectives for advanced space communications applications. We have baselined Xilinx’s 20nm Kintex UltraScale FPGAs with 12.5 Gbps SerDes links enabling high-throughput, flexible and reconfigurable modulation, demodulation, channelization and routing capability in our newest advanced RF Reconfigurable processor, Wolverine. The Processor leverages the 10x increase in DSP compute capability for direct RF Sampling compared to prior generation systems,” said Paul Rutt, CTO at SEAKR.

The XQRKU060 also features 40x40mm ceramic packaging. The architecture features an innovative design for single event effects (SEE) mitigation thereby meeting the industry requirements for all orbits, including low earth orbit (LEO), medium earth orbit (MEO), geosynchronous orbit (GEO), and deep space missions.

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