Power Architecture® processors have dominated aviation safety-critical processing since the late 1990s, when major processing vendors exited the MIL-qualified and/or aviation-certified markets. Since that time, four trends have emerged:

  1. Military and commercial safety certification has become more rigorous
  2. Server/desktop architectures have focused on performance at the expense of determinism
  3. System-on-Chip (SoC) architectures are offered, with multiple processing cores (multicore) in a single package to increase performance over single-core processors
  4. The industrial automation industry is increasing safety requirements for autonomous manufacturing, and the automotive industry is offering driver assistance, including autonomous operation, creating a large market for relatively low-power, high-integrity processing

Although the Power Architecture will remain a viable aviation processor technology for some time, new-to-our-industry processing products and architectures are poised to enter (or re-enter) the aviation market. Automotive and aviation markets require similar capabilities that make the avionics market attractive to processing vendors currently supplying the automotive market:

  • Longer product availability lifetimes (5-15 years) than consumer/server-grade processors
  • Low power draw
  • Extended temperature operation
  • High safety integrity

This paper introduces the microprocessor industry support and certification issues. High-level activities to bring safety-critical products to civil and military aviation using Multi-Core Processors (MCPs) are also discussed, based on current Rockwell Collins MCP civil aviation development, with all cores operational, supporting Design Assurance Level (DAL) A. A high-level comparison between automotive and civil /military aviation safety requirements will be discussed. The leading alternative processing architectures are introduced with their history and their vendor’s interest and activities in support of the aviation market. Next steps are described in the areas of MCP certification, alignment of automotive/avionics safety requirements, and potential vendor activities. Finally, our conclusions are summarized….Read more

Posted by Rockwell Collins