Cost-effective prototyping for space-flight FPGAs

Though Altera and Xilinx are used in space-based applications such as satellites and spacecraft, has the market cornered on Class-S style rad-hard FPGAs. Trouble is: they aren’t cheap, and anti-fuse devices are one-time programmable, making them expensive to burn during prototyping. The solution? Use an development adapter board that’s populated with lower price, reprogrammable Actel ProASIC FPGAs. The RTAX4000S prototyping adapter board includes a unique dual-stacked configuration with a ProASIC3 A3PE3000 on each board which collectively “replace” the more expensive RTAX4000S device.

The bottom part of the board is footprint compatible with the space-type RTAX CQ352 devices which allows soldering the adapter board to a PCB just as if it was a regular device. As well, it can be soldered and unsoldered several times should the need arise during prototyping. And since the ProASICs are flash-based, they can be reprogrammed during development. According to Actel, the JTAG programming connector allows on-the-fly device reprogramming without detaching the adapter, and an EDIF netlist converter lets designers migrate from RTAX-S/SL and -SU space devices to ProASIC3E devices.

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