World's First On The Fly Reconfigurable Satellite Powered by Xilinx

2/5/2003 - Xilinx's reconfigurable radiation-tolerant FPGAs are flying aboard the Australian scientific mission satellite FedSat, successfully launched on December 14, 2002 from Tanegashima, Japan. Developed by the CRCSS at Queensland University of Technology in Australia in conjunction with Johns Hopkins University / Applied Physics Laboratory and support from NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, the FedSat reconfigurable computer is the world's first use of this technology in space. As a critical component of the High Performance Computing (HPC-I) payload, the reconfigurable nature of Xilinx FPGAs enable satellites to be rewired without having to be retrieved, thus drastically reducing cost and development time. For more details on FedSat, including a video of the actual launch, visit

Current satellites have fixed embedded hardware with limited computing capacity and lack of flexibility to run new functions and applications to adapt for changing operation and mission requirements. FedSat features a reconfigurable computer that permits change of its physical circuits via software control; new physical circuits can be installed by remote command.

According to Dr. Anwar Dawood, CRCSS principal research scientist and program leader, the space industry is moving rapidly towards faster, cheaper, smarter, and more flexible satellite missions. The HPC-I payload on FedSat is a true demonstration of reconfigurable computing in the harsh and hostile environment in space deploying radiation tolerant Xilinx FPGA. The HPC-I payload is an adaptive instrument module that offers high computing capacity and flexibility to run different functions and applications in space.

"The successful implementation of this high performance satellite computing platform is another demonstration of the growing use of Xilinx FPGAs in space applications," stated Howard Bogrow, marketing manager for Aerospace and Defense Products at Xilinx. "This technology is gaining increasing acceptance in the entire range of military and commercial space and satellite programs as designers of space systems are recognizing the value and importance of being able to employ reconfigurable FPGAs."

Dr. Dawood has also initiated the following projects to efficiently utilize the high performance satellite computing in a system context for a variety of engineering and science applications in space:

The second generation HPC-II is underway now with emphasis on critical space applications and further enhancement on system capability to handle onboard real-time data processing and reliability. For additional information on the CRCSS High Performance Computing group responsible for the design of FedSat, visit the web site at

About Xilinx QPRO Radiation-Tolerant FPGAs
Xilinx is already shipping radiation tolerant families of XQR4000XL and Virtex devices, with densities up one million system gates, and offers different manufacturing flow options, including the QPRO Plus V-like flow for both ceramic and plastic packaging.

Xilinx plans a new line of QPRO radiation tolerant FPGAs based on its leading Virtex-II series later this year. The new devices will be available with densities up to six million system gates.

About Xilinx
Xilinx, Inc. (NASDAQ: XLNX) is the worldwide leader of programmable logic solutions. Additional information about Xilinx is available at

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