The first thing we did with them was a SpaceWire ASIC, which is being used on GOES-R, and also being used on LRO – the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. It’s going to be used on the GPM mission, which is the Global Precipitation Measurement mission. It’s also being used on LCROSS (Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite), which is just a knockoff of LRO; it’s the same architecture. Basically, they took that ASIC after we developed it with them and they put it onto their single board computer, the RAD750 with the radiation hardened version of the PowerPC 750 computer chip.
The next generation part they’re making is a bridge chip. They’re integrating the SpaceWire design into the bridge chip, which is the main component on their single board computers, tying the processor chip 750 into the memory and all the peripherals. That ASIC’s called the Golden Gate ASIC.
They’re also integrating it into another ASIC, their RAD6000 system-on-chip. Basically, before the RAD750, the RAD6000 was their main processor. It’s not as high-performance as the RAD750, but it’s still a very capable machine. What they did is, they’re integrating it into a system-on-chip where you have a single die, a single ASIC, which has the processor, the memory, everything on it. SpaceWire’s going to be integrated into that RAD6000 system-on-chip design, which will be a nice product for a lot of embedded applications.
Then we worked with Honeywell; they’ve made an ASIC out of it for a NRO – National Reconnaissance Office – project through Lockheed Martin Sunnyvale. They made an ASIC with a big bar link on it – I think it goes 16 links – and it’s kind of an optimized design for their specific application. But they did have a design where they took our SpaceWire link and they put, like, 16 of them and they had a backend bus to the RapidIO, which is kind of a high-speed bus, very similar to what we’re doing with space fiber.
And we’ve worked with Aeroflex; they’ve made an ASIC. It’s not exactly our design; we provided them with a design and they took a lot of the features and ideas from it and they’re making a router ASIC, or a switch, out of it. They had another ASIC, a system-on-chip, which they took a SpaceWire design from a Swedish company and made an ASIC out of it, but that doesn’t use our design. They’re making another router, a switch design that has a lot of the features of our ASIC.
We have that, and then I have an SBIR – Small Business Innovation Research – where we’re making a SpaceWire switch design with our design as well.
NTB: Looking ahead, what types of future applications do you envision for SpaceWire technology?
Rakow: Basically I see it being used to replace parallel buses like PCI. PCI Express is a serial data interface, and we see SpaceWire as being a good application for serial backplanes. They’re using it in some places on Orion for the serial backplane. You can see Harris Corporation, down in Melbourne, is doing some SDR work – software defined radios – where they’re using SpaceWire in RMAP as kind of a serial backplane.
We see it as very useful for serial backplane applications and for robotic missions that don’t require isolation – galvanic isolation – because SpaceWire doesn’t support that. So, robotic missions that don’t require galvanic isolation, and for serial backplanes, we see it as being a very strong case for its use in space mission applications.