Necessity of fault tolerance techniques in xilinx kintex 7 FPGA devices for space missions : a case study

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In FPGA applications in space, implementations are generally protected using radiation-error mitigation techniques such as triple modular redundancy. For high-performance systems, such fault tolerance techniques can prove problematic due to large power overhead. This paper presents a case study on the Digital Receiver System (DRS) in the Netherlands-China Low-frequency Explorer (NCLE), which is implemented using a Xilinx Kintex 7 SRAM FPGA. Estimates for the critical cross-section of the system are presented, as well as estimated fault rates for a five-year mission to the second Earth-Moon Lagrange point. This includes simulations on the expected radiation environment, an analysis on the applicability of the used Xilinx Kintex 7 FPGA in these conditions and an analysis on the feasibility of implementing the DRS with minimal mitigation techniques for this mission. The steps performed during the analysis are described in detail, as to provide a guideline for replicating such an analysis for different space missions.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings - 20th Euromicro Conference on Digital System Design, DSD 2017
EditorsH. Kubátová , M. Novotný, A. Skavhaug
Place of PublicationPiscataway
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)9781538621455
ISBN (Print)978-1-5386-2147-9
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jun 2017
Event20th Euromicro Conference on Digital System Design (DSD 2017) - Vienna, Austria
Duration: 30 Aug 20171 Sept 2017
Conference number: 20


Conference20th Euromicro Conference on Digital System Design (DSD 2017)
Abbreviated titleDSD 2017


  • fault tolerance
  • FPGA
  • Kintex 7
  • radiation error mitigation
  • space missions


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