February 18, 2014. Presto Engineering Inc., a provider of semiconductor back-end turnkey production services, has announced its participation in the MACSPACE Consortium. The consortium brings together some of the top European technology companies and universities to research and develop high-performance computer processors that can meet the specialized requirements of space flight and manage the massive amount of data generated during space missions.
“The ability to analyze data in space, make real-time decisions, and obtain better situational awareness will greatly enhance mission capabilities,” said Ran Ginosar, CEO, Ramon Chips, an Israel-based semiconductor company that is coordinating the consortium. “Consequently, we need higher-performance computing systems that can handle the massive amount of data being generated during modern space missions. The MACSPACE Consortium is a major step for Europe toward developing onboard computing technologies that consume a fraction of the power used by current technologies.”
Presto Engineering, along with Germany-based DSI Informationstechnik, will work on characterizing and testing the prototype computer system. According to Cédric Mayor, vice president of technology and marketing at Presto Engineering, “We are very honored to be part of this very important initiative. The ambitious, multidisciplinary project involves the development of a computer system that combines very high performance with low power consumption, small size, and light weight, so that it is practical for use on spacecraft. It needs to be robust enough to withstand the harsh environment of space, where temperatures range from -55 to 125°C and radiation accelerates aging. And, of course, it needs to be reliable, since space missions can last many years.”
The collaborative project is funded by the European Commission under the FP7 SPACE programme (grant number 607212) and is managed by the Research Executive Agency. It is expected to last approximately three years.
The consortium includes a complementary team, including Thales Alenia Space Italia, a provider of satellite and orbital infrastructure technology, which will drive requirements and subsequently test the system; CEVA, an IP DSP core provider, which will develop the computer processor’s specialized core; Technische Universitaet Braunschweig, the oldest institute of technology in Germany, which will be responsible for benchmarking and evaluating the work; and Arttic, a European specialist in the set-up and management of collaborative international research and development projects, which will assist with the operations of the consortium and the dissemination of its results.
Details of the research and results will be shared in a symposium and summer school in 2016. Prior to this, users will be able familiarize themselves with the onboard system through access to a web-based demonstration and emulation system.