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The recent spotlight on FPAA research and development shows a continued interest and need for such devices in spite of a continued lack of commercially-available options. Still, what is possibly the greatest potential target for FPAA/FPMA technology--radiation-tolerant and high-reliability areas such as space flight hardware--has not been addressed. Field-Programmable Analog and Mixed-Signal Arrays could replace discrete component circuits in tasks ranging from housekeeping to signal conditioning and processing, resulting in lower costs, weight, and power consumption, and significantly shorter time for design cycles and flight qualification.

Research on novel architectures for field-programmable analog arrays [1,4] provides us with fast and efficient array designs. Other research [3] provides circuits and layout considerations for linear capacitors in a digital process when used in a switched-capacitor framework. In the commercial sector, new advances in antifuse technology [5] with low-resistance interconnections allow speed and bandwidth previously not possible in field-programmable circuits. All indications are that the coupling of high-speed interconnect technology with efficient FPAA designs and analog techniques for digital processes will produce viable programmable chips to meet the needs of spacecraft designers.

R. Timothy Edwards

Last updated: October 13, 1999 at 3:00pm