GATE - Generic ASIC Test Environment
Over the last decade integrated electronics for satellite on-board applications have been continuously gaining importance. Contemporary Application Specific Integrated Circuits (ASICs) or Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) comprise the functionality of several Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs) as they were state-of- the-art ten years ago. Moreover, PCBs designed for today’s on- board applications normally host several such ASICs and FPGAs.
Nevertheless, the stringent rules for design and verification of Space Electronics have remained unchanged, leading to a non- linear growth of verification cost with increasing Integrated Circuit (IC) complexity. On the other hand, the prices that can be achieved per PCB have even decreased.
As most of the electronics equipment supplied by Austrian Aerospace contains ASICs or FPGAs, the competitiveness of the company is considerably affected by the efficiency with respect to design and verification, in particular the verification of highly Integrated Circuits.
An example of a technologically outstanding ASIC, foreseen to be tested with the help of the test equipment emerging from the present activity, is a novel ASIC for Data Handling Systems shown in Figure 2, to be used as highly recurring building block for the up-coming generation of on-board computers.
Another example is a SpaceWire Router ASIC (SPROUT), an Integrated Circuit facilitating wormhole routing between SpaceWire nodes at bit rates of up to 200 Mbit/s. This ASIC development was an initiative of the European Space Agency, aiming at providing an Application Specific Standard Product (ASSP) as standardized building block for modern on-board data networks.
Austrian Aerospace - Gerald Kempf