De-RISC Project Looks to Put the Free and Open RISC-V ISA in Satellites, Aircraft

Combining a RISC-V system-on-chip, multi-core interference mitigation technology and a smart hypervisor, De-RISC takes flight.

Gareth Halfacree
10 days agoHardware 101
The De-RISC project is staffed by representatives from four organizations. (📷: De-RISC)

A four-company partnership is looking to bring free and open source silicon to space, through a program funded in part by the European Union and dubbed De-RISC: the Dependable Real-time Infrastructure for Safety-critical Computer.

The four organizations working on the €3.4 million project are Cobham Gaisler, Fent Innovative Software Solutions (fentISS), Thales, and the Barcelona Supercomputing Centre. Each brings something to the party, starting with a multi-core system-on-chip designed by Cobham Gaisler around the free and open RISC-V instruction set architecture (ISA). It's not the company's first product to reach for the stars, either: its radiation-hardened LEON-based parts can already be found in orbit.

FentISS, meanwhile, is acting as project coordinator and providing its safety-critical hypervisor platform, XtratuM, which will be ported to RISC-V as part of the De-RISC effort. "With the first RISC-V based, fully European platform for space, De-RISC will guarantee access to made-in-Europe technology for aerospace applications," says Paco Gomez Molinero, chief executive officer of fentISS and coordinator of the De-RISC project, "thus contributing to the Technologies for European Non-dependence and Competitiveness program in these strategic markets."

The Barcelona Supercomputing Centre has confirmed it will be providing multi-core interference mitigation techniques, a key part of the project's key features and something which is designed to make the resulting platform stand out from the proprietary competition. Thales, finally, will provide real-world testing for aerospace applications.

A key aspect of the project is that it will be free from export restrictions placed by the United States on selected high-technology items: "Most existing products use US technology," the project's coordinators explain, "thus subject to US export control. De-RISC’s IP core platform and software will not be subject to any US regulatory influence by building on RISC-V."

More information on De-RISC is available on the EU Cordis website. The project is expected to run through to the end of March 2022.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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