Solution based on FPGA chips for safety applications
Reprogrammable chips for safety applications
ELECTRONICS AND ICT
Lines of specialisation
Electronics, Information and Communication Technologies
FPGA are electrical devices that are being used more and more by companies from every sector. This success is due to their adaptability, because they can be programmed to execute countless operations.
Until now safety applications (i.e. those whose function depends on the integrity of people or highly valuable infrastructures) made it necessary to use two chips working simultaneously for the same system. In this way, if one of the chips failed, the other one would keep on carrying out these safety functions.
IK4-Ikerlan and the company Xilinx, the world's leader in microelectronics, have worked together to develop a solution based on reprogrammable chips (that uses FPGA or Field Programmable Gate Array technologies) for functional safety applications.
The new platform makes the fulfilment of this demanding task possible using only one device. In order to do so, two functional safety channels have been implemented inside the same chip.
Thanks to this development, a more efficient solution that requires fewer components for its manufacturing has been achieved which, as a result, means a lower cost.
The effectiveness of this development has been tested on a pilot project designed to track anomalies in electric power systems. It is an application inside a chip that monitors the network's electrical flow in order to avoid power surges that could pose a threat to the installation's integrity. This application has demonstrated to the certification provider TÜV Rheinland that the device is capable of guaranteeing the safety of a critical infrastructure, such as that of an electrical grid.
This platform can be employed in many highly demanding industries, such as the automotive, railway or medical sectors, among others.
These developments will allow Xilinx to compete in new markets in the valuable field of safety.