Reprogrammable AMD Versal AI chip cleared for use in space • The Register

AMD claims that AI inference will soon become cheaper and more widely available for satellites and other space devices after a version of its reprogrammable Versal system-on-chip was deemed worthy of celestial travel.

The Silicon Valley chip designer announced Tuesday that its XQR Versal AI Core, XQRVC190, has become its first space-ready Versal SoC, having completed a Class B qualification. Class B is based on a US Department of Defense specification that determines the readiness of chips in space across multiple areas, including performance, reliability, and quality.

Qualification means the radiation-tolerant Versal space SoC is expected to ship in early 2023. Defense company Raytheon is already planning to use it for “next-generation space processors,” which AMD says will be used in satellites and other types of spacecraft.

The space chip is part of the Versal line of adaptive SoCs, which AMD acquired with its $49 billion purchase of FPGA maker Xilinx earlier this year. It’s also part of AMD’s strategy to challenge Nvidia and Intel in the AI ​​computing space.

AMD seems to think the Versal Space SoC will be a boon to enable more onboard computing and AI inference in space. The Ryzen designer said it represents a “major leap forward” as such capabilities were previously only possible with custom ASICs “which are prohibitively expensive for most space programs.”

AMD says what makes the Versal Space SoC special is that it can be reprogrammed during development and as it flies through the harsh radiations of space, whether the chip is in low Earth orbit, geosynchronous Earth orbit, or beyond . AMD added that it has tested the chip alongside independent organizations to ensure it can withstand radiation in space.

AMD says the chip’s reprogrammability is important, as the ability will allow satellite operators to switch processing algorithms on the fly to keep remote sensing and communications applications in tip-top shape. ASICs, on the other hand, have fixed logic that cannot be changed once manufactured.

“Its heterogeneous compute capabilities and reconfigurable logic structure will enable our teams to integrate more on-board processing in a significantly smaller footprint, enabling unprecedented advances in system-level size, weight and performance,” said Barry Liu, Senior Director of Space Systems at Raytheon Intelligence and Space.

The Versal Space SoC includes dual-core Arm Cortex-A72 and dual-core Arm Cortex-R5 embedded processors along with 400 AI computing engines, nearly 900,000 logic cells and 191 million bits of memory. All components are connected to a network-on-chip and are manufactured in a 7nm CMOS process. ®

https://www.theregister.com/2022/11/15/amd_versal_space_chip/ Reprogrammable AMD Versal AI chip cleared for use in space • The Register

Rick Schindler

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