Lift off: De-RISC to create first RISC-V, fully European platform for space

Oct 24, 2019

Launched on 1 October 2019, the European Innovation Action De-RISC is preparing a full hardware-software platform based on RISC-V for the space and aviation market.

Combining a multicore system-on-chip by leading space solutions provider Cobham Gaisler with fentISS’ space-qualified XtratuM hypervisor, De-RISC will create a market-ready platform to power future space and aeronautical applications with made-in-Europe technology.

Thanks to Barcelona Supercomputing Center’s proven multicore interference mitigation techniques, the platform will offer high-performance operation with dramatically reduced interference. Meanwhile, Thales, one of the strongest players in the space and aviation market worldwide, will test the platform on real aerospace applications.

‘With the first RISC-V based, fully European platform for space, De-RISC will guarantee access to made-in-Europe technology for aerospace applications, thus contributing to the “Technologies for European non-dependence and competitiveness” programme in these strategic markets,’ said Paco Gomez Molinero, chief executive officer of fentISS and coordinator of the De-RISC project.

The use of RISC-V will also help to future-proof the platform, thanks to an ever-increasing support for the open-source instruction set architecture (ISA), at a time when the proprietary PowerPC and SPARC architectures traditionally used in aviation and space systems are experiencing a loss of momentum. As a result, the space industry is not able to leverage software from the commercial domains, fuelling a need to shift to architectures present in higher volume commercial markets. The final platform will be portable to other architectures, and it will also provide superior fault tolerance.

The four partners together represent a formidable team for computing in space. Cobham Gaisler is one of the main providers of processors for the European Space Agency (ESA), while the fentISS XtratuM hypervisor has been used in the latest generation of ”NewSpace” satellites. Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC) has a rich portfolio of projects developing the latest technologies for space. Meanwhile, Thales’ long experience in designing, operating and delivering satellite-based systems make them ideally placed to validate the technology for space applications.

About De-RISC

De-RISC (Dependable Real-time Infrastructure for Safety-critical Computer) is a 30-month Innovation Action partially funded by the European Commission, which was launched on 1 October 2019. With a budget of € 3,444,625, the project addresses computer systems within the space and aviation domains. It will introduce a market-ready hardware-software platform based on the RISC-V ISA, productizing a multi-core RISC-V system-on-chip designed by Cobham Gaisler and an efficient time and space partitioning based on the fentISS XtratuM hypervisor.

The project consortium comprises four partners, all of whom have extensive experience in the safety-critical and aerospace domains. The XtratuM hypervisor by fentISS (Spain) has been selected for different space missions including the OneWeb satellite constellation, the PLATINO generic satellite for constellations, ARGOS ANGELSEyeSatMERLINJUICE and MMX among others. The LEON processor series developed by Cobham Gaisler has been used in a variety of ESA missions. BSC is one of the leading research institutions in Europe and has closely collaborated with Cobham Gaisler and Thales in European projects such as SAFURE and PROXIMAThales is a world leader for mission critical information systems with ample experience in the aerospace, telecommunications and security domains.