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COTS-to-Radiation-Tolerant and Radiation-Hardened Devices

Begin Your Development with a Commercial Device Before Moving to Radiation-Qualified Versions

The space market is changing as private funding is driving new applications and business models. Instead of the traditional class 1 or 2 projects being driven by Geostationary Earth Orbit (GEO) operators and space agencies, this new trend is creating a demand for solutions that offer significant cost savings and better time to market for Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites, launchers, space rovers and robots and other applications.

Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) solutions are an attractive option for decreasing costs in space applications. They are typically mature and widely deployed products that are based on a solid architecture and offer a variety of peripherals like CAN and Ethernet. However, a COTS solution generally cannot meet the radiation performance and other quality requirements of space applications. As new companies are entering the space market, they are asking for more information about using COTS solutions and requesting improvements in the radiation performance of these devices.

What Are Some Challenges of Using COTS Solutions?

Relying on industrial- or automotive-grade devices to offer a Single Lot Date Code (SLDC) supply chain with full traceability and a complete qualification data package is challenging for space applications where volumes are limited. This is a key concern for developers of large-volume LEO satellite constellations.

The radiation performance of COTS devices also depends on many parameters that can trigger a long and costly process of studies and tests. This process is even more difficult for a complex System on Chip (SoC) where design knowledge is essential for achieving the best radiation characterization. Many times, the high sensitivity to latch up of most devices during start up can make it impossible to evaluate or limit Single Event Upsets (SEUs). Latch-up effect can also destroy an electronic component, critically affecting the reliability of the entire system without offering any way to go back and start over.

Even if you can successfully assess and select a COTS solution, the radiation performance will be limited and your system might require a delatcher or shielding, which would significantly add to the overall cost of your system. Based on the targeted orbit or lifetime of some missions, a COTS strategy may not work. To target higher-grade space applications, an electronic system based on COTS devices would require a significant redesign. Quality and reliability should never be compromised when you need solutions that can meet the radiation requirements of your application.

Our Unique Scalable Approach

Over the years, our quality management program has demonstrated compliance with MIL-PRF-38535. Devices we manufacture using these certified technology flows are listed on the Qualified Manufacturer List (QML-38535). Our quality management program has also demonstrated compliance with ESCC2549000 for our ASIC products since 2011.

These qualified devices, listed in the European Preferred Parts List (EPPL), answer the needs of the most stringent space missions in term of orbit and duration. They can be procured under the Standard Microcircuit Drawing (SMD) and ESCC Detailed Specification (DS).

Based on the recognition conferred by these standards, we leverage our efficient quality program to offer devices intended for shorter missions or less harsh orbits in term of radiation hardness. These products can be procured under Product Specification (PS). When assembled in hermetic packages, these products (with -MQ, -SV or -SCC suffixes) meet qualification testing, screening testing and TCI/QCI inspections compliant with MIL-PRF 38535 or ESCC9000 requirements. When assembled in plastic packages, these products (with -SN or -HP suffixes) meet qualification levels that are at least compliant with automotive requirements (AEC-Q100).

High-Reliability Devices

We offer extended-temperature products in the −55°C to +125°C range. These products are selected for their maturity owing to their extensive and successful deployment in automotive and industrial markets

Key Features and Benefits

  • High-volume commercial flow
  • Full traceability and long-term supply 
  • Hi-rel qualification flow according to AQEC recommendations
  • On-demand screening options according to application’s requirements
  • Full temperature range (−55°C to +125°C) tests, characterization and qualification
  • Plastic and hermetic ceramic packages with same pinout distribution
  • Neutron latch immune and SEU characterization by functional blocks
  • High MOQ level (~1000 units)

Radiation-Tolerant Devices

Most space applications are for LEO missions, where the level of radiation performance is less demanding than GEO and Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) missions. These applications require cost-effective solutions to limit the maximum development investment while reducing risk and time to market. Our family of radiation-tolerant (rad-tolerant) AVR® and SAM Arm® Cortex®-based microcontrollers (MCUs) and dsPIC® DSCs are created from our widely deployed commercial devices.

These rad-tolerant devices use our proven and industry-leading technology, including Core Independent and Intelligent Analog peripherals, but offer radiation performance improvements and quality flows that correspond with space-grade and hermetic packages. They are more robust against all radiation effects (neutrons, heavy ions and protons) to insure latch-up immunity and non-destruction in critical environments. Compatible with the Microchip Studio Integrated Development Environment and our commercial evaluation kits, these rad-tolerant devices simplify product ramp-up while reducing BOM costs and time to market.

These solutions can also be used in general aerospace applications, like class A and B aircraft, where single-event radiation impact is a critical issue. A non-hermetic, plastic version with the appropriate quality flow can be used in this type of application.

Key Features and Benefits

  • Supported by the full Microchip development ecosystem
  • Same pinout distribution as the commercial device, enabling use of dual-footprint PCB
  • Latch-up immune with SEL LET > 60 Mev, SEU and Total Ionizing Dose (TID) performance characterization by functional blocks
  • Ceramic hermetic and plastic packages
  • Space-grade quality flow
  • Full military temperature range screening
  • Full wafer lot traceability
  • Low MOQ levels (Ceramic: 5, Plastic: 250)

Radiation-Hardened Devices

Our dual-use strategy provides you with access to our latest commercial technology innovations through radiation-hardened-by-design devices. These advanced products, available as System-on-Chip (SoC) solutions, are QML-certified to provide world-class quality. We leverage our partnerships with government agencies and aerospace equipment manufacturers to validate products and services in actual system environments. We are committed to providing radiation-hardened solutions for complex systems used by the aerospace industry.

Key Features and Benefits

  • Latch up immune with SEL LET>60 Mev, SEU performances characterization
  • Total Ionizing Dose performance higher than 100 krad
  • Ceramic Hermetic
  • Space grade quality flow (QML/ESCC)
  • Full Mil. temperature range screening
  • Full wafer lot traceability
  • Low MOQ level (Ceramic: 5, Plastic 100)

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