Atmel introduces reconfigurable processor for space applications

MIAMI, 18 July, 2012. Atmel Corp. (NASDAQ: ATML), a microcontroller and touch technology designer, has announced the Atmel ATF697FF, the newest member of the Atmel SPARC V8 processor family. The Atmel ATF697FF is a radiation-hardened (RAD Hard), high-performance aerospace microprocessor that can be reconfigured on-the-fly. The ability to reconfigure on-the-fly allows users to make on-going design modifications to satellites, including specification updates, in-flight adjustments during trial flights and post-launch alterations.

The new ATF697FF is a reconfigurable processor that integrates Atmel's RAD Hard AT697F processor and reconfigurable ATF280F (FPGA) unit in a single multichip module (MCM).

U.S. Aerospace Tactical Marketing Manager for Atmel, Carolyn Russell, explains the uses a reprogrammable processor has in space. "It can change what the processor does for different experiments. We've seen an interest from several different organizations." In addition to its scientific uses, Russel sees promise in reprogrammable processors for communications applications.

The ATF697FF, designed and developed by the Atmel Aerospace business unit in Rousset, France, adds the flexibility of a reprogrammable FPGA to the reliability of a core processor running application software. It is ideal for systems that require reconfiguration of peripherals and interfaces, helping it comply and stay up-to-date with evolving standards that are used on many space missions, such as SpaceWire, CAN or IEEE1553. The flexibility of the ATF697FF processor is also beneficial for late design modifications performed on Earth, for in-flight adjustments on satellites and for space trial operations.

The new product combines an Atmel AT697F SPARC V8 RAD Hard processor with a RAD Hard ATF280F SRAM-based FPGA and an internal PCI link. The ATF697FF runs at up to 100MHz, as well as low power, down to 0.7W, for space applications today. Jointly developed with STAR-Dundee of the United Kingdom, a SDE Software development kit is available for the SPARC V8 Platform to provide compiling, debugging and monitoring tools. IDS and Mentor tools are available for FPGA designs and Atmel will offer pre-placed IPs to assist customized interface developments.

Atmel is currently engaging with alpha customers on the ATF697FF. The product will be available for prototyping in July and for flight model implementation the end of 2012.

For more information on the ATF697FF, visit Atmel here.

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