PICMG ratifies CompactPCI Serial for Space specification, selected for OneWeb satellite fleet

WAKEFIELD, Mass. Members of PICMG, a consortium of companies and organizations collaboratively developing open specifications in Wakefield, Mass., have ratified the CompactPCI (cPCI) Serial Space specification, a ruggedized version of cPCI Serial that addresses the extreme environment requirements for space.

Sep 7th, 2017
PICMG ratifies CompactPCI Serial for Space specification, selected for OneWeb satellite fleet
PICMG ratifies CompactPCI Serial for Space specification, selected for OneWeb satellite fleet

WAKEFIELD, Mass. Members of PICMG, a consortium of companies and organizations collaboratively developing open specifications in Wakefield, Mass., have ratified the CompactPCI (cPCI) Serial Space specification, a ruggedized version of cPCI Serial that addresses the extreme environment requirements for space.

Ratified August 2017, cPCI Serial Space or the CPCI-S.1 R1.0 specification is intended to be used in space – e.g., on-board satellites as the platform system and the payload controller as well as on Earth for the control systems and ground stations. CompactPCI Serial products can be also combined with cPCI Serial Space products to develop test and simulation systems.

MEN Mikro (MEN Micro in the U.S.) is already unveiling cPCI Serial Space embedded computing solutions.

CompactPCI Serial Space stems from the core CompactPCI Serial specification that provides high-speed serial performance to the 3U/6U Eurocard form factor. CompactPCI Serial enables the use of PCIe Gen3, 40GbE, or other high-speed protocols with a rugged and cost-effective connector solution.

More than 900 satellites will use CompactPCI Serial Space technology within the OneWeb program. OneWeb Satellites is a joint venture between OneWeb and Airbus, the world’s second largest space company, to manufacture low-cost, ultra- high performing satellites at high-volumes. Initial production of 900 satellites is planned for launch into low Earth orbit beginning in 2018, to deliver affordable Internet access globally.

“CompactPCI Serial Space is the consequent path to implement high-tech solutions for a highly sophisticated market while re-using and evolving proven industrial technology, reaching significant cost reductions in parallel compared to existing solutions, says Manfred Schmitz, chief technology officer of MEN Mikro Elektronik in Nuremberg, Germany, and chair of PICMG's CompactPCI Serial Space committee. "The robustness, flexibility, and simplicity of the new CompactPCI Serial for Space standard is exactly what MEN's products stand for in general, he says. “MEN feels honored to have been asked by PICMG members to assist in the creation of yet another important standard – this time to bring proven industrial computer technology into space.”

The goal of the new technical PICMG sub-committee “CompactPCI Serial Space” (cPCI Serial Space) was to extend the current CompactPCI Serial specification by a sub-standard covering the specific requirements for space applications. The two main changes in the extension of the CompactPCI Serial specification are the definition of a dual star architecture for increased availability, and allowing the integration of different communication protocols common in space applications for both – the dual-star and the full-mesh network (which was formerly restricted to Ethernet only). The result is a parallel and flexible usage of the full-mesh Ethernet network via the backplane, as well as the dual-star architecture via PCI-Express or any other protocol (SpaceWire, TTEthernet, EtherSpace, etc.) of both the CPU card and all peripheral cards.

“CompactPCI Serial Space guarantees the interoperability of different boards from different suppliers, and helps re-use solutions from mission to mission,” says PICMG President Jess Isquith. Its open integration of different protocols makes it suitable for many more applications – not just in space, she adds.

About PICMG
PICMG is a not-for-profit 501(c) consortium of companies and organizations that collaboratively develops open standards for high performance industrial, military/aerospace, telecommunications, test/measurement, medical, and general purpose embedded computing applications. There are over 150 member companies that specialize in a wide range of technical disciplines, including mechanical and thermal design, single board computer design, very high speed signaling design and analysis, networking expertise, backplane and packaging design, power management, High Availability software, and comprehensive system management.

Founded in 1994, PICMG's original mission was to extend the PCI standard to non-desktop applications. The formal name of the organization is the PCI Industrial Computer Manufacturers Group.

Key standards families developed by PICMG include CompactPCIR, AdvancedTCAR, MicroTCAR, AdvancedMCR, CompactPCIR Serial, COM ExpressR, SHB ExpressR, and HPM (Hardware Platform Management).

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