The high-speed ring bus at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) allows for future growth trends in spacecraft seen with future scientific missions. This innovation constitutes an enhancement of the 1393 bus as documented in the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) 1393-1999 standard for a spaceborne fiber-optic data bus. It allows for high-bandwidth and time synchronization of all nodes on the ring. The JPL ring bus allows for interconnection of active units with autonomous operation and increased fault handling at high bandwidths. It minimizes the flight software interface with an intelligent physical layer design that has few states to manage as well as simplified testability. The design will soon be documented in the AS-1393 standard (Serial Hi-Rel Ring Network for Aerospace Applications).

The framework is designed for “Class A” spacecraft operation and provides redundant data paths. It is based on “fault containment regions” and “redundant functional regions (RFR)” and has a method for allocating cables that completely supports the redundancy in spacecraft design, allowing for a complete RFR to fail. This design reduces the mass of the bus by incorporating both the Control Unit and the Data Unit in the same hardware.

The standard uses ATM (asynchronous transfer mode) packets, standardized by ITU-T, ANSI, ETSI, and the ATM Forum. The IEEE-1393 standard uses the UNI form of the packet and provides no protection for the data portion of the cell. The JPL design adds optional formatting to this data portion. This design extends fault protection beyond that of the interconnect. This includes adding protection to the data portion that is contained within the Bus Interface Units (BIUs) and by adding to the signal interface between the Data Host and the JPL 1393 Ring Bus. Data transfer on the ring bus does not involve a master or initiator. Following bus protocol, any BIU may transmit data on the ring whenever it has data received from its host. There is no centralized arbitration or bus granting.

The JPL design provides for autonomous synchronization of the nodes on the ring bus. An address-synchronous latency adjust buffer (LAB) has been designed that cannot get out of synchronization and needs no external input. Also, a priority-driven cable selection behavior has been programmed into each unit on the ring bus. This makes the bus able to connect itself up, according to a maximum redundancy priority system, without the need for computer intervention at startup. Switching around a failed or switched-off unit is also autonomous. The JPL bus provides a map of all the active units for the host computer to read and use for fault management.

With regard to timing, this enhanced bus recognizes coordinated timing on a spacecraft as critical and addresses this with a single source of absolute and relative time, which is broadcast to all units on the bus with synchronization maintained to the tens of nanoseconds. Each BIU consists of up to five programmable triggers, which may be programmed for synchronization of events within the spacecraft of instrument. All JPL-formatted data transmitted on the ring bus are automatically time-stamped.

This work was done by Terry Wysocky; Edward Kopf, Jr.; Sunant Katanyoutanant; Carl Steiner; and Harry Balian of Caltech for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. For more information, download the Technical Support Package (free white paper) at under the Electronics/Computers category. NPO-42112

This Brief includes a Technical Support Package (TSP).
High-Speed Ring Bus

(reference NPO-42112) is currently available for download from the TSP library.

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This article first appeared in the February, 2010 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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