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Embedded and Reconfigurable Systems

Dr. Jim Aarestad, COSMIAC’s Chief Scientist, serves as the director of the Center’s Embedded and Reconfigurable Systems Laboratory located on the second floor of the main COSMIAC facility. The research activities in this laboratory focus primarily on FPGA- and microprocessor- based systems for aerospace, fault-tolerant, and machine learning (ML) applications. Laboratory expertise includes several hardware description languages (Verilog, VHDL, SystemVerilog), programming (C/C++, Python, R, Ruby), and works with development hardware from multiple device manufacturers (Xilinx, Microsemi, TI, Intel …). The laboratory performs research in dynamic partial reconfiguration (PR) of FPGAs, as well as several reliability, robustness, and resiliency enhancements, such as hardware-based triple modular redundancy (TMR) solutions and various software design and coding methodologies that support these objectives. PR is the ability to dynamically modify blocks of logic by loading partial bitstream files while the remaining logic continues to operate without interruption. Xilinx Partial Reconfiguration technology allows designers to change functionality on the fly, eliminating the need to fully reconfigure and re-establish links, dramatically enhancing the flexibility that FPGAs offer, and providing tradeoffs between performance and device utilization, often resulting in the ability to utilize smaller devices for a given application. The Xilinx TMR technology was developed to address the enhanced reliability requirements of FPGAs operating in extreme radiation environments. Designed for space applications, and proven through numerous mission-critical projects, TMR provides enhanced immunity to single-event upset (SEU) and single-event transient (SET) failures for FPGA designs based upon space-grade designs. Having access to, and experience with, these specialized software tools provides the Laboratory with the ability to perform cutting-edge research and product development.