A small microprocessor, suitable for use in applications in which high reliability is required, was designed to be implemented in either an application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) or a field-programmable gate array (FPGA). The design is based on commercial microprocessor architecture, making it possible to use available software development tools and thereby to implement the microprocessor at relatively low cost. The design features enhancements, including trapping during execution of illegal instructions. The internal structure of the design yields relatively high performance, with a significant decrease, relative to other microprocessors that perform the same functions, in the number of microcycles needed to execute macroinstructions.

The problem meant to be solved in designing this microprocessor was to provide a modest level of computational capability in a general-purpose processor while adding as little as possible to the power demand, size, and weight of a system into which the microprocessor would be incorporated. As designed, this microprocessor consumes very little power and occupies only a small portion of a typical modern ASIC or FPGA. The microprocessor operates at a rate of about 4 million instructions per second with clock frequency of 20 MHz.

This work was done by Igor Kleyner, Richard Katz, and Hugh Blair-Smith of Goddard Space Flight Center. GSC-15493-1

NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the April, 2011 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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