• These types of devices are more efficient and less expensive than their predecessors, something which will allow the company to enter other high-value sectors
  • This development has been endorsed by TÜV Rheinland, the world's leading certification company

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 high-security applications.

Up until now, these types of devices hadn't been used to carry out such demanding functions. However, Xilinx and IK4-IKERLAN have integrated a system in a chip for critical applications that conforms to the strict requirements imposed by TÜV Rheinland, the world's leading certification company. This will allow the North American company to enter high-value markets.

FPGAs 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. Xilinx is a pioneer company and the world's leader in this field.

The solution

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.

The new platform developed by Xilinx and IK4-IKERLAN makes the fulfilment of this demanding task possible using only one device. In order to do so, two functional security 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.

“It is very important for us to work hand in hand with the world's leading FPGAs manufacturer, because this represents recognition of IK4-IKERLAN's capabilities on the field of industrial applications development based on the technology of embedded electronics” said Leire Rubio, researcher at this centre.

The effectiveness of this development has been tested on a pilot project designed to track anomalies in electric power systems. It's 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 reliability. 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.

Thinking further into its applications, the 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 high security.

It will be introduced at Embedded World 2017

The implementation of functional security applications inside the new chip manufactured by Xilinx will be one of the main innovations that the North American company will present, together with IK4-IKERLAN, at the Embedded World in Nuremberg (Germany), the world's most important embedded systems fair.

The conference will be celebrated between the 14th and 16th of March and will gather more than 900 exhibitors, more than 30,000 professionals and various experts from all over the world who will present the latest developments in the field of integrated technologies.

IK4-IKERLAN's experience

IK4-IKERLAN has great experience in the development of embedded electronics for high-security applications in extremely demanding sectors such as the railway industry. Recently, TÜV Rheinland has renewed its certification of IK4-IKERLAN's method to develop functional security electrical systems.

The centre obtained this certification five years ago and has now renewed it to adapt it to regulatory changes and improvements. In this sense, IK4-IKERLAN has established itself as one of Europe's first companies, and the first in Spain, to achieve this recognition.

“This partnership highlights our great expertise in embedded technologies for high-security applications, which, in the future, we will be able to transfer to the companies in the field,” said Jon Perez, head of the embedded systems department at IK4-IKERLAN.

About Xilinx

Xilinx is an American technology company that develops programmable and logical devices. It is world-renowned for having invented FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) technology and for being the first company to work with fabless semiconductor models. With more than 3,500 patents, it is the pioneer of programmable technologies. Its products allow smart, connected and distinguished applications powered by 5G wireless, Embedded Vision, Industrial IoT and Cloud Computing.

The technological centre in Arrasate Mondragon has developed, together with a leading multinational of programmable devices, a FPGA chip solution for critical applications
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