“Dramatic Leap Forward” for Space Technology
The US DoD has selected BAE Systems to qualify a new generation of integrated circuit technology for use on board spacecraft.
The new integrated circuits will be based on 12-nanometer technology, rather than the current 45-nanometer standard. This reduction will allow more components to be placed into the same size of chip, thereby increasing computational capability without increasing size, weight or power-consumption demands. The design of the new technology – which BAE has trademarked RH12 – will also harden the components against radiation.
“This selection makes BAE Systems the premier radiation-hardened integrated circuit supplier for space customers,” Ricardo Gonzalez, BAE’s Director of Space Systems, said. “Moving from a 45-nanometer design to a 12-nanometer design enables more transistors to fit on each chip at reduced power consumption per operation, which increases functionality – an important factor in space vehicles, where volume and power are limited resources.”
The qualification process will see the company validate the RH12 technology to Class V and Class Q of the Qualified Manufacturer’s Listing standard. Class Q, considered the tier two standard, indicates a military performance specification, while Class V is tier one, space-grade and radiation-tolerant. The company says it will offer development and production services for RH12 integrated circuits to industry “with a flexible engagement model“.