High-Reliability FPGA-Based Systems: Space, High-Energy Physics, and Beyond

Author M. Wirthlin
Abstract Field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) have been shown to provide high computational density and efficiency for many computing applications by allowing circuits to be customized to any application of interest. FPGAs also support programmability by allowing the circuit to be changed at a later time through reconfiguration. There is great interest in exploiting these benefits in space and other radiation environments. FPGAs, however, are very sensitive to radiation and great care must be taken to properly address the effects of radiation in FPGA-based systems. This paper will highlight the effects of radiation on FPGA-based systems and summarize the challenges in deploying FPGAs in such environments. Several well-known mitigation methods will be described and the unique ability of FPGAs to customize the system for improved reliability will be discussed. Finally, two case studies summarizing successful deployment of FPGAs in radiation environments will be presented.
Publication Proceedings of the IEEE
Volume 103
Issue 3
Pages 379-389
Date 2015
DOI 10.1109/JPROC.2015.2404212
ISSN 0018-9219;00189219


Aerospace electronics;Computational efficiency;Field programmable gate arrays;Radiation effects;Random access memory;Reconfigurable architectures;Space vehicles