NASA will produce with SiFive and Microchip its own processors for future missions to the Moon and Mars


POT, SiFive and Microchip join forces to manufacture the processors for future missions to the Moon and Mars, reported this week chip designer companies. This ends the use of PowerPC, introduced more than two decades ago.

The computing system of RISC-V-compliant CPU cores will power the agency’s high-performance spaceflight computer (HPSC).

YesFive Y microchip They got a three-year, $50 million contract.

“This effort will amplify the capabilities of existing spacecraft and enable new ones. Ultimately, it could be used by virtually all future space missions, all benefiting from more capable flight computing. Niki Wekheiser, director of technology maturation at NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate.

The novelties of SiFive and Microchip chips for NASA

As it explains The Register, The HPSC processor replaces the Power PC-based BAE RAD750, which served several space missions, including those of the rovers Curiosity and Perseverance on Mars and the James Webb Space Telescope.

The new 12-core processor being designed will be 100 times better in performance than its predecessor, while also offering superior power efficiency through its ability to turn off various sections of the chip when not in use.

Image of SiFive

Jack Kang, SiFive’s senior vice president of business development spoke about it.

“The last chip NASA used lasted decades. This chip (the new one) will be used for decades to come.” Indian.

According to Kang, the proposed performance is important “to enable a new generation of autonomous rovers, vision processing, spaceflight, guidance, and communications applications beyond Earth’s atmosphere and orbit.”

It will help the Artemis Program for the return to the Moon and the future exploration of Mars

Currently, NASA is promoting the Artemis Program to put the first woman and the next man on the Moon. The Artemis I Mission had to be suspended twice due to a hydrogen leak, and now its unmanned launch is planned for the end of this year.

Artemis will serve as a base for future exploration of Mars, with the Gateway set to be in orbit of the Moon by the 2030s.

The RISC-V made by SiFive and Microchip boasts an open, free and lightweight nature in its ISA, The Register states. The base architecture, like a classic RISC design, features fewer than 50 instructions where official and third-party extensions can be added to provide more instructions to a CPU core, adapting to its operational requirements.

NASA bet not only on the present quality, but also on the developer base that will be seen in the coming years.

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