NASA aims for 100x speedup with next space computer2022-08-17 19:22 by Daniela
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California has selected Microchip Technology Inc. of Chandler, Arizona, to develop a High-Performance Spaceflight Computing (HPSC) processor that will provide at least 100 times the computational capacity of current spaceflight computers.
If NASA is to fulfill its goal of exploring deeper into the solar system, it's going to have to develop advanced computers capable of carrying out complex navigation and communication tasks for all sorts of hardware – from spacecraft to robotic rovers.
Thus, the US space agency wants a hardy processor line that can not only survive tough environments with extreme temperatures and high cosmic radiation, but will also have at least 100 times the computational capacity of today's computer chips in space.
"Our current spaceflight computers were developed almost 30 years ago," said Wesley Powell, NASA's principal technologist for advanced avionics. "While they have served past missions well, future NASA missions demand significantly increased onboard computing capabilities and reliability. The new computing processor will provide the advances required in performance, fault tolerance, and flexibility to meet these future mission needs."
Microchip will architect, design, and deliver the HPSC processor over three years, with the goal of employing the processor on future lunar and planetary exploration missions. As part of NASA's ongoing commercial partnership efforts, the work will take place under a $50 million firm-fixed-price contract, with Microchip contributing significant research and development costs to complete the project.
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