Electronic Design

IBM Power Processor Used In Mars Rover

IBM's Power Processor was designed in to NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander, the probe launched on Saturday to travel 423 million miles and dig into Mars' frozen surface to search for origins of life on the planet. The probe will use a radiation-hardened RAD6000 computer by BAE Systems that is based on the Power Chip. As the "brains" of the spacecraft, the RAD6000 will process navigational data and will drive key systems in space and on Mars' surface. "We are honored that NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory has selected the Power Chip and the BAE Systems based RAD6000 to be an integral part of a mission that may answer the age old question: could life exist on another planet," Raj Desai, vice president IBM Global Engineering Solutions, said in a statement. On the surface, Phoenix will endure temperatures down to -100 degrees Fahrenheit and wind speeds of up to 40 meters per second. The RAD600 processor has proven its ability to withstand such conditions with its role in the Spirit and Opportunity Mars Rovers that NASA launched in 2003. The rovers' instruments relied on a single board computer with a 32-bit Power Chip licensed to BAE Systems by IBM and a RAD6000 processor radiation hardened by BAE systems. "We selected Power Chip as the most amenable architecture for space-based missions," Vic Scuderi, space product manager for BAE Systems, said in a statement. "Experience bears out that choice, as the space community has accepted the RAD6000 as the workhorse for space computer applications." Desai noted that the Power Processor used in the Lander is also used in all three major game consoles, in fifty percent of automobile models worldwide, and in sixty percent of the world's fastest computers.

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