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NASA and USAF Looking for a Next-Gen Space Processor

In the search for an advanced next-generation processor to power the spacecraft computing needs of the future, NASA and the US Air Force Research Laboratory has launched the Air Force Next Generation Processor Analysis Program (AFNGPAP).

The program offers a $2 million contract (with an option for a further $20 million in funding) for between two and four companies to perform a year-long evaluation of advanced space-based applications that would use spaceflight processors in the decade of 2020 to 2030.

The hope is that this research will help yield future spacecraft processors that are powerful enough to perform tasks such as autonomous pinpoint landing with hazard detection and avoidance, real time segmented mirror control on telescopes, onboard real-time analysis of hyperspectral images, autonomous situational analysis, real-time mission planning, and real-time mode-based fault protection for spacecraft.

 “Computer processors and applications aboard spacecraft will need to transform dramatically to take advantage of computational leaps in technology and new mission needs,” said Michael Gazarik, associate administrator for NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate at the agency's headquarters in Washington. “NASA's Space Technology Program is teaming with the Air Force to develop the next generation spaceflight processor requirements and propose solutions to meet future high performance space computing needs in the upcoming decades.”

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  • Norrec69
    In other words, newer technology gets better.
    Reply
  • bartosz trzaska
    Let me tell you ,once they made this chip skynet is unavoidable
    Reply
  • enewmen
    Oracle's Larry Ellison or one of Apples "top brass" with their $100m salaries should be able to finish the $2m space applications in 1 week. Are they worth so much or just forward the work to someone else?
    Reply
  • bombebomb
    They clearly have not heard of the Sandy Bridge Core I5
    Reply
  • metallifux
    A10-5800K
    Reply
  • rocknrollz
    I know there is an obvious answer that I have just missed, by why can't they use processors like the 3570k?
    Reply
  • Gundam288
    Well, on the plus side heat shouldn't be an issue for overclocking in space. ^_^
    Reply
  • kunzite
    IIRC, processors used in space are on a whole other level from computer processors. This is because they get exposed to environments/radiation that we don't worry about on earth. Also they must be pretty much flawless, it's a little difficult to RMA a processor that is in orbit around another body. ;)
    Reply
  • kunzite
    IIRC, processors used in space are on a whole other level from computer processors. This is because they get exposed to environments/radiation that we don't worry about on earth. Also they must be pretty much flawless, it's a little difficult to RMA a processor that is in orbit around another body. ;)
    Reply
  • shloader
    @kunzite. You recall correctly. This isn't about performance so much as it's about getting the processor to perform the same in space as it would on the ground where it's shielded by the Earth's magnetic field. A high end processor from four years ago would accomplish the computational tasks they'd put to it, not a problem. Radiation plays serious havoc the lower the nanometer. Transistors that small are easily influenced by radiation. That's why critical computers that maintain the power grid are so shielded; solar flare activity. Even then it's hardly 100% perfect. In space they need a near perfect solution.
    Reply