Space-based computing applications often demand reliable, high-bandwidth communication systems. FPGAs with Mulit-Gigabit Transceivers (MGTs) provide an effective platform for such systems, but it is important that system designers understand the possible susceptibilities MGTs present to the system. Previous work has provided a foundation for understanding the susceptibility of raw FPGA MGTs but has fallen short of testing MGTs as part of a larger system. This work focuses on answering the questions MGT system designers need to know in order to build a reliable space-based MGT system. Two radiation tests were performed with a test architecture built on the Aurora protocol. These tests were specifically designed to discover system susceptibilities, and effective mechanisms for upset detection, recovery, and recovery detection. Test results reveal that the Aurora protocol serves as an effective basis for simple point-to-point communication for space-based systems but that some additional logic is necessary for high reliability. Particularly, additional upset detection and recovery mechanisms are necessary as well as additional status indicators. These additions are minimal, however, and not all are necessary depending on system requirements. The most susceptible part of the MGT system is the MGT tile components on the RX data path. Upsets to these components most often results in data corruption only and do not affect system operation or disrupt the communication link. Most other upsets which do disrupt normal system operation can be recovered automatically by the Aurora protocol with built-in mechanisms. Only 1% of observed events in testing required additional recovery mechanisms not supplied by Aurora. In addition to test data results, this work also provides suggestions for system designers based on various system requirements and a proposed MGT system design based on the Aurora protocol. The proposed system serves as an example to illustrate how test data can be used to guide the system design and determine system availability. With this knowledge designers are able to build reliable MGT systems for a variety of space-based systems.



College and Department

Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology; Electrical and Computer Engineering



Date Submitted


Document Type





FPGA, radiation testing, BYU, MGT, Aurora, reliability, high-speed serial I/O