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.