The ISOLDE Space Demonstrator: Embracing RISC-V for Space Applications

The ISOLDE project is dedicated to advancing the development of high-performance RISC-V processing systems, with the goal of empowering European industries and fostering digital sovereignty of the EU. By the completion of the project, ISOLDE aims to have systems and platforms that will be demonstrated in major European application areas, including automotive, space, and IoT. Moreover, it is expected that two years after completion, the high-performance components developed by ISOLDE will be integrated into industrial-quality products. Among the demonstrators envisioned in the project, E4 Computer Engineering will focus on developing a demonstrator in the space sector.

The Space Demonstrator is one of the key components of the project, which involves constructing a FPGA and a ready-to-tapeout multicore SoC design specifically designed for space applications. The Space Demonstrator will be used to validate the feasibility and performance of RISC-V-based SoCs in space environments. This will pave the way for wider adoption of RISC-V in future space missions. The integration of a RISC-V processor into the Space Demonstrator represents a pivotal advancement in spacecraft capabilities. RISC-V's open-source architecture brings several advantages to space applications, including reduced costs due to the absence of licensing fees and adaptability to meet specific space requirements.

E4 plays a crucial role in the development of the space demonstrator, ranging from a preliminary definition of the requirements for the demonstrator and extending to the implementation of the FPGA and the development of test methodologies to validate correctness and functionality of the implementation. E4 will also facilitate the synchronization of software design with the implementation and testing of the demonstrator and, additionally, will collaborate on the development of V&V methodologies and APIs. Our involvement spans the entire design of this demonstrator, from its inception to its completion, with the goal of creating a high-performance, reliable, and secure demonstrator that illustrates RISC-V processing systems for space applications.

As the ISOLDE project progresses, the Space Demonstrator will serve as a platform to validate the feasibility and performance of RISC-V-based SoCs in space environments. This validation process will contribute to the broader adoption of RISC-V in future, fostering the development of a robust European RISC-V ecosystem.