SpaceFibre Multi-Laning Premiered at DASIA 2016

Demonstration of multi-laning at DASIA 2016

STAR-Dundee has demonstrated the advanced multi-laning capabilities of the SpaceFibre protocol. This allows several lanes to operate in parallel to provide enhanced throughput. For example, with four lanes running at 2.5 Gbits/s each and aggregate throughput of 10 Gbits/s is achieved. SpaceFibre multi-laning can operate with any number of lanes, from 1 to 16. Each lane is normally bi-directional, but to support spaceflight instruments with very high-data rate in one direction and to save mass and power, it is possible to have some uni-directional lanes in a multi-lane link, provided that at least one lane is bi-directional. SpaceFibre multi-laning also supports graceful degradation in the event of a lane failure. If a lane fails, the multi-lane link will rapidly reconfigure to use the remaining lanes so that important (high priority) information can still get through. It takes a couple of microseconds for this reconfiguration to occur, which happens without loss of information. Clearly, with reduced bandwidth some information will not be sent over the link, but this will be less important, low priority, information. If a redundant lane is available in the link, it can be enabled and full capacity operation will resume. SpaceFibre IP cores and test equipment are available from STAR-Dundee. The SpaceFibre ECSS standard is due to be published by the end of 2016.

The photograph shows multi-laning capability of SpaceFibre being demonstrated to spacecraft engineers at the DASIA 2016 conference held in May in Tallinn, Estonia. A four lane link was demonstrated with low priority high bandwidth traffic flowing over some virtual channels and high priority video data over another virtual channel. Lanes were unplugged with corresponding loss in bandwidth, but the link continued to operate sending the “critical” video data without interruption. Only when all four lanes were unplugged, did the video data stream cease. As soon as any of the four lanes were plugged back in, the video stream continued once more.

STAR-Dundee and Microsemi Collaboration

Microsemi logo

STAR-Dundee is to collaborate with Microsemi to provide SpaceWire and SpaceFibre network technology using Microsemi’s RTG4 high-speed signal processing radiation-tolerant field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs).

“We are pleased to be working with Microsemi and leverage our unrivalled expertise to help the company expand the growing adoption of RTG4 FPGAs in SpaceWire and SpaceFibre applications,” said our CEO, Steve Parkes. “Our commitment is to ensure our customers can begin working with our technologies as quickly as possible, and utilizing Microsemi’s innovative RTG4 FPGAs can help the industry achieve this easily.”

STAR-Dundee is a Microsemi FPGA & SoC Partner, offering SpaceWire and SpaceFibre IP for Microsemi radiation tolerant FPGAs including the RTAX and RTG4 devices.

Further details are provided in Microsemi’s news release on the collaboration.

Information on the services that STAR-Dundee provides for Microsemi devices can be found on our STAR-Dundee Microsemi Partner page.  Also available on this page is a video featuring our CEO, demonstrating our SpaceWire and SpaceFibre IP on the RTG4.


Iberian Peninsula

ESA’s Sentinel-3A was successfully launched on the 16th of February. On board it has four instruments: Ocean and Land Colour Instrument (OLCI), Sea and Land Surface Temperature Radiometer (SLSTR), Synthetic Aperture Radar Altimeter (SRAL) and Microwave Radiometer (MWR). Amongst other marine and Earth observation applications, these instruments will allow Sentinel-3A to map sea-level change and surface temperature, perform water quality management and monitor vegetation health. 

Three point-to-point SpaceWire links are used between the higher data rate OLCI, SLSTR and SRAL instruments and the Sentinel-3A payload data handling unit (PDHU). 

The image shown features Spain, Portugal and North Africa and is one of the first images taken by the OLCI instrument.  

For more information please see the ESA Sentinel-3 website. 

Image © Copernicus data (2016)

ExoMars Mission 2016

ExoMars 2016 fairing release image

The start of a new era of Mars exploration for Europe is planned to begin on the 14th of March 2016 with the launch of the ExoMars 2016 mission. The ExoMars 2016 mission consists of the Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) and Schiaparelli, and is a joint venture between the European Space Agency (ESA) and Russia’s Roscosmos space agency. TGO will study the atmosphere of Mars. Schiaparelli will demonstrate a range of technologies for entry, decent and landing on Mars.

ESA has long used SpaceWire for payload data handling and the Trace Gas Orbitor is another example of this. The second ExoMars mission is planned for launch in 2018, and comprises a rover and a surface science platform. The rover will use SpaceWire extensively to interconnect various instruments, mass memory and processors.

For more information please see the ESA Robotic Exploration of Mars website.

Image © ESA/ATG medialab

Astro-H Launch

Astro-H Media Presentation Image

Astro-H was successfully launched on 17th February 2016. Astro-H (now known as Hitomi) is an X-ray astronomy satelite commissioned by the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) that extensively uses SpaceWire and the Remote Memory Access Protocol (RMAP). It was created to study the hot and energentic Universe, and will probe the sky in the X-ray and gamma-ray portions of the electromagnetic spectrum. For more information please see the JAXA Astro-H mission website.

Image © JAXA.

STAR-Dundee Sponsors FSW-15 at JHU

SpaceFibre and SpaceWire Demo using the RTG4

STAR-Dundee is delighted to sponsor the 2015 Workshop on Spacecraft Flight Software, hosted by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland from October 27th to 29th, 2015.

Our Managing Director will be presenting a paper on SpaceFibre, covering the standard and its features, and the implementations already available. We are also demonstrating both SpaceWire and SpaceFibre running on the Microsemi RTG4 in the lobby of Building 200. This demonstration makes use of the STAR Fire and new SpaceWire Brick Mk3 devices.

STAR-Dundee Participates in Microsemi Space Forum

SpaceWire/SpaceFibre Demo

STAR-Dundee is delighted to be participating in each of the Microsemi Space Forum events taking place in the United States, Europe and India over the summer of 2015. At each event we are showcasing a demonstrator we’ve developed which includes both our SpaceWire IP Core and SpaceFibre IP Core running in the new Microsemi RTG4 radiation hardened FPGA family.

The demonstrator interconnects two RTG4 development boards each featuring a STAR-Dundee FMC daughterboard specifically designed for the RTG4 boards. Each FMC board features four SpaceWire ports and two SpaceFibre ports and an aggregate bandwidth in excess of 5 Gbps. Other STAR-Dundee products are also used in the demo, such as the STAR Fire unit and the new SpaceWire Brick Mk3. One STAR Fire unit is used in interface mode as a high speed SpaceFibre data generator (2.5 Gbps) sending and receiving data through the RTG4 boards to saturate the SpaceFibre link. Another STAR Fire unit is used in analyser mode to capture data travelling over SpaceFibre between the RTG4 boards. In parallel, one computer is used as a lower speed SpaceWire source, sending data in one direction to a remote computer. At the same time, this remote computer is sending a webcam video feed through SpaceWire back to the SpaceWire source PC. A SpaceWire Brick Mk3 is used by each computer to send and receive the SpaceWire packets to/from the RTG4 boards.

All the SpaceWire data packets (SpaceWire low data rate and webcam stream) are routed over SpaceFibre virtual channels.  The rate at which these packets are transmitted is not affected by the STAR Fire high data rate packets as the bandwidth provided to a virtual channel can be configured in SpaceFibre. Thanks to its high speed together with its inbuilt Quality of Service (QoS) and Fault Detection and Isolation (FDIR) capabilities, SpaceFibre allows the reduction of system complexity, substantially reducing cable harness mass and simplifying redundancy strategies.

The embedded high-speed SerDes and the dedicated SpaceWire clock recovery circuits located inside the RTG4 FPGAs are used in the demonstration, proving that STAR-Dundee IP cores are fully compatible with Microsemi’s new RTG4 technology.

Congratulations to GC Micro for landing a prestigious NASA Contract Award!

GC Micro logo

GC Micro Corporation, STAR-Dundee’s representative in the USA, has been rewarded for its commitment to performance excellence and outstanding customer focus by winning a NASA Contract Award to supply information technology products and complex computerised solutions to the US federal government over the next 10 years. This did not come as a complete surprise as they recently received the Boeing Performance Excellence Award for the 6th consecutive year.

GC Micro is an IT business that has provided products and services to NASA and all the major companies in the Space and Aerospace industry since 1986. It is through these connections that GC Micro has proven to be a very strong partner in championing STAR-Dundee products in the US for over 8 years.

Congratulations to the GC Micro team!

Another big turnout from STAR-Dundee at the SpaceWire Conference in Athens, Greece

SpaceWire Conference in Athens, Greece

With the Acropolis in the distance, and amidst the glorious sun and sand of the Greek Riviera, another successful SpaceWire Conference took place.

The conference provided the opportunity to showcase the SpaceWire Physical Layer Tester at the STAR-Dundee exhibition stand. This is the first device on the market to test the Physical and Signal Levels of the SpaceWire standard. It can test the tolerance of a SpaceWire device to degraded LVDS by allowing the amount of skew, jitter, slew, swing and common mode voltage of the LVDS signals to be adjusted, either independently or collectively through a set of simple yet powerful GUIs.

Also presented were the latest LabVIEW and RTEMS driver developments.

The new SpaceWire LabVIEW (VISA) Driver has been introduced to meet the growing demand from our customers that wish to use our popular SpaceWire cPCI Mk2 in their NI racks. Whilst not yet making it onto the Product catalogue the driver is already proving a popular addition to the driver set.

The SpaceWire RTEMS Driver presentation drew much discussion about the tribulations of supporting the LEON3 for this RTOS used in many space applications. The RTEMS development for the LEON3 is the forerunner for the release later this year in support of the AT6981, a new processor borne from the partnership between STAR-Dundee and ATMEL. The AT6981 is the first of a new generation of powerful Space flight processors that offload IO tasks to dedicated protocol engines including 4 on-board state-of-the-art STAR-Dundee SpaceWire engines. The first AT6981 development board was on display at the ATMEL exhibition stand.

Of particular significance were two sessions dedicated to SpaceFibre. Short and long papers were presented on a variety of subjects; the latest updates to the protocol including multi-laning, new cable designs, the results of comparative studies of the multi-gigabit technology, and experiences of early adopters on the use of the integrated QoS mechanisms and extensive FDIR.

The conference proceedings are now available to conference attendees on the SpaceWire Conference website and will be generally available from April next year.

STAR-Dundee Scoop Scottish Business of the Year!

Business of the Year!!!

To crown another successful year, STAR-Dundee received the Scottish Business of the Year (Under 25 employees).

On Thursday 11th September the Scottish Chambers of Commerce held its inaugural Scottish Business Honours 2014 ceremony in Edinburgh. The occasion takes the winning businesses from local Chambers of Commerce from all over Scotland and showcases the best of Scottish businesses at this nationwide ceremony.

STAR-Dundee not only received one award but were also a shortlisted Finalist for Most Innovative Company. These acclamations are not only great recognition for the success of STAR-Dundee within the Scottish business community over the years, but also for all the endeavours of the great team at STAR House.

Image courtesy of Scottish Chambers of Commerce / John Linton Photography.