THALES ALENIA SPACE avionics development on new ARM-based Systems on Chip

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Architecture of Thales Alenia Space future avionics as well as methods and tools for its development, integration and verification will be specified during this project. This includes:

OBC-core specification with its variability to cope with various missions needs including LEO, MEO, GEO and interplanetary exploration missions. And:

For Hardware:

  • OBC-D modules specification.
  • OBC-D Design Description and Design Report.
  • OBC-D test and validation plan.
  • OBC-D tests and test bench specification.
  • OBC-D Elegant Bread-Board specification.

For FPGA fabric:

  • Market and heritage survey.
  • IPs functions and interfaces specification.
  • FPGA bit-stream development.

For Boot and Hardware Dependent Software:

  • Boot Software specification.
  • Software drivers for FPGA functions interfacing specification.
  • Development of test equipment for IPs and IP-drivers integration and test.

For Application Software:

  • Selection of ARM multi-core RTOS (Real Time Operating System).
  • Overall software architecture definition.
  • RTOS and software prototype integration and test.

For Avionics:

  • Specification of avionics interfaces insured by the Avionics Centralized Electronics.
  • OBSW Execution Platform and Equipment management Specification.
  • Avionics development and validation plan.
  • Avionics Tests and test bench specification.
  • First test bench prototype development.

The overall study is accompanied by product assurance and quality for:

  • Critical Item List and Qualification Status List.
  • OBC-D reliability assessment and FMEA.

One challenge of this study consists in defining the development logic for this new generation computer while following the NG-ULTRA SoC development in parallel to activities for definition and validation of Avionics, Hardware, IPs, Software and ACE.

In addition, the NG-ULTRA offers a high computing power together with very large FPGA capacity interconnected through high speed AMBA bus. Functions insured by several chips in the current platform computers can hence be integrated on a single chip allowing significant cost saving.

Functions allocation among Hardware, FPGA and Software while keeping good dependability level represents one the main challenge of the study.


The main benefits brought by the product are, from a commercial point of view, the increased competitiveness, through reduced recurrent cost, mass and consumption.

On top of that, the product will offer a high flexibility thanks to the reprogrammable FPGA and to the high computing power and partitioned software capability allowing integration in the On-Board Software additional application software functions for future needs.


The product is a platform avionics with the On Board Computer based on multicore SoC and eFPGA: NG-ULTRA/DAHLIA.

It supports platform subsystems (Attitude and Orbit Control, Power, Propulsion, Thermal) through Avionics Centralized Electronics (ACE) and High Power Unit (HPU), and interfaces the Payload via numerical bus and discrete links.

Avionics main units are developed on a modular approach giving high flexibility and growth potential for future applications including LEO, MEO, GEO and interplanetary exploration missions.

ACE gathers interchangeable modules for:

  • AOCS sensors and actuators interface,
  • Satellite active thermal control interface,
  • Platform and payload equipment interface via discrete links,
  • Auxiliary Propulsion interface,
  • Satellite angular rate measurement (GYRO).

Thanks to its modular architecture, ACE could also integrate dedicated modules for specific mission needs.

HPU gathers high power modules such as:

  • Power supply conditioning and distribution (tens of kW) to platform and payload equipment. The modular approach allows adjustment to various range.
  • High voltage control and distribution to various plasmic propulsion types.

OBC includes powerful R52 quadri-core ARM-based MPSoC as well as the largest space FPGA. This allows avionics function integration on a single chip. In addition OBC integrates hardware and software for handling of RF signals directly from GNSS antennas.

Furthermore an OBC extension module may be added for specific mission needs.

System Architecture

Refer to Product features. 


Main project milestones are:

  • Kick-Off meeting on 2020 Feb 14th with presentation of performed work including preliminary specification for OBC-D, FPGA IPs and Low Level Software.
  • Milestone 1 on 2020 March 19th for preliminary specification review.
  • Milestone 2 to reach PDR level for OBC-D equipment is split in 3 parts.
    • Part1 held on 2020 May 28th for review of updated specification, reliability assessment and FMEA, test plan and test equipment specification.
    • Part2 held on 2020 July 23rd, for review of updated documentation and detailed specification.
    • Completion foreseen in 2020 September.
Current status

The complete set of documentation is available with a few exceptions that will be delivered for Milestone 2 completion.

Main achievements:

  • OBC-D HW: EBB manufacturing specification.
  • Boot SW: specification and prototype.
  • IPs and HDSW: developed and validated on representative test equipment.
  • ACE Interface Software: first version developed and under validation on test equipment including real HW for bus interface.
  • OBSW EP: Real Time Operation System prototype under test on Virtual Platform.

Project is foreseen to be extended to cover the OBC-D FUMO manufacturing, HW SW integration and tests.