A first-time-right design for Thales
Thales Alenia Space has completed the development of a radiation hardened mixed-mode circuit: the DPC (Digital Programmable Controller). This system on chip (Figure 1 and 2) is a major breakthrough in the availability of a radiation hardened highly integrated European Micro-controller*. The component uses the imec RHBD Dare UMC 0.18 library and Thales Alenia Space selected ICsense for the development of the custom designed analog IP blocks.
The DPC is an essential building block for the development of state-of-the-art intelligent avionics modules that allow space grade-1 decentralized control for the first time. The DPC is used as the core controller in Thales Alenia Space’s next generation avionics products used to control the power distribution, motor, thrusters for LEO and GEO satellites.
Figure 1 (left) Photograph of the DPC ASIC, (right) Block diagram of the DPC (Digital Programmable Controller)
Thales Alenia Space worked closely with ICsense on the development of this DPC custom ASIC which is currently used in 6 space missions and is over 75 cumulated years in orbit.
Alain Van Esbeen, R&D Business Development Manager, Thales Alenia Space Belgium about the cooperation: “ICsense developed the rad-hard (radiation hardened) analog, mixed-signal part of our DPC ASIC. All parts were first-time-right and rad-hard by design up to 100kRad, which is a remarkable achievement of ICsense’s engineers. Especially taking into account the complexity of this SoC (System-on-Chip) with 3 micro-controllers, 4 ADCs of 13-bit, 3 DACs, clocks, PLLs, a bandgap and power management. ICsense has proven to be a flexible, reliable and professional partner in this challenging development journey. Together we achieved a great milestone: the first flight with the DPC in January 2020. More than 100 DPC ASICs are in orbit as we speak, with an impressive growing flight heritage!”
Since the official launch, the ASIC has successfully been integrated into quite a large range of applications and has been transferred as well to third parties like ONERA and DLR for further integration in their system controllers.
(*)The DPC program is a cooperation involving Thales Alenia Space, ICsense and imec and is supported by ESA.