NASA SBIR 2018-I Solicitation

Proposal Summary


PROPOSAL NUMBER:
 18-1- Z8.03-5222
SUBTOPIC TITLE:
 Low Cost Radiation Hardened Integrated Circuit Technology
PROPOSAL TITLE:
 Low Cost Radiation Hardened Flash Memory Integrated Circuit
SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Silicon Space Technology Corporation
1501 South MoPac Expressway, Suite 350
Austin , TX 78746-6966
(512) 347-1800

Principal Investigator (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Ross Bannatyne
rbannatyne@voragotech.com
1501 South MoPac Expressway, Suite 350 Austin, TX 78746 - 6966
(512) 550-2954

Business Official (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Ross Bannatyne
rbannatyne@voragotech.com
1501 South MoPac Expressway, Suite 350 Austin, TX 78746 - 6966
(512) 550-2954
Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) :
Begin: 2
End: 3
Technical Abstract

There is a strong demand for radiation hardened Non-Volatile Memory (NVM) for all digital control based space applications.  There are limited options available to designers today, consisting of up-screened commercial memories and devices with constrained radiation performance specifications.VORAGO Technologies propose to harden an existing proven (but not yet radiation-hardened) SONOS Flash memory technology that is available from SkyWater CMOS wafer fab. Our confidence in success is based on the fact that we have successfully hardened SRAM memories and other similar CMOS devices using the same HARDSIL® technology that we will apply to the SkyWater Flash memory. A successful outcome to this project will result in a radiation-hardened flash memory IC that can be qualified for space flight and ultimately a portfolio of rad-hard flash memory products that can be used in many applications where programmable non-volatile storage is required. The SkyWater flash memory IP has been in production for many years on a commercial (non rad-hard) flow and has shipped billions of units through that particular SkyWater fab. It is very robust technology. One of the main benfits of this proposal is that we can piggyback upon this high volume flow with a simple modification to facilitate the radiation hardening.

 

Potential NASA Applications

We believe that the availability of a high-specification radiation-hardened flash memory would be a very popular product for NASA space-based observatories, fly-by spacecraft, orbiters, landers and robotic / sample return missions that require robust command and control capabilities. The alternatives are up-screened devices with very limited radiation performance. Every programmable digital board that is used in every spacecraft requires a non-volatile memory device to store program code. This device could be used in each of these applications. Flash is an attractive alternative to all other types of substitute memory types as it is dense, low power, doesn’t need masks to program, doesn’t need high programming voltages and it is fast. Some examples of functions of the low-cost radiation hardened flash memory integrated circuit are: -Program storageBootloader -Personality / customization data storage -Calibration data -Payload sensor storage data It would be possible to create a family of products of different densities to meet many application requirements. We would start with a device around 64Mbit density and then propose to create a full family of devices with higher memory sizes. It is possible to include different types of memory interfaces on the chips (both serial and parallel) to meet all possible space applications.

Potential Non-NASA Applications

We believe that the availability of a high-specification radiation-hardened flash memory would be a very popular product for many aerospace and military applications. As with NASA applications, this function is required everywhere that there is a programmable chip such as a processor, including ASICs and FPGAs. Today, the market relies upon up-screened technology that does not have strong radiation specifications. Despite their poor performance, today’s solutions are expensive and often have very long availability lead-times.VORAGO can improve on radiation performance as well as lead time because instead of relying upon up-screening, the VORAGO flash memory devices will be fabricated in a high-volume wafer fab that is running a commercial CMOS flow that is only slightly modified by HARDSIL® technology.


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