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Air Force Phase II SBIR Award Announcement for “High Temperature By Design (HTBD) Techniques for a Reliable, High Performance Microcontroller”

Daniel Nenni

Admin
Staff member
FAYETTEVILLE, ARKANSAS August 5, 2020 - Ozark Integrated Circuits Inc. received word in late July that they would be receiving their third SBIR Phase II award in two months. The $750,000 contract is from the U.S. Air Force and will result in the ability to put more processing power into controls for jet engines, providing new ways for manufacturers to improve their efficiency and performance.

The project will create a high-temperature processing core, based on the open-source RISC-V architecture, that will be used to power a microcontroller for operation at temperatures as high as 200⁰C (390⁰F). The 32-bit RISC-V core will provide powerful processing capabilities that will significantly expand and enhance Ozark IC’s line of 200⁰C products.


High-temperature integrated circuits are essential components for enabling distributed engine controls in advanced turbine engines as well as emerging hypersonic platforms. The 32-bit RISC-V microprocessor core is designed to have a lifetime of over 10,000 hours. This will greatly increase system lifetimes for smart sensing and actuation nodes in distributed engine control systems.

Expected processing speed at 200⁰C will exceed existing high-reliability silicon processors by 5-10x, while exceeding the lifetime of high-temperature silicon parts by a factor of 2-5x. Long-life high-temperature electronics have potential applications in turbine engine controls, down-hole oil, gas, and geothermal systems, for both exploration and completion of below-ground resources.

Ozark IC will make the RISC-V core available in its 200⁰C smart node module (the AQ-200); these modules are used for data acquisition, signal processing and communications. The RISC-V core will be a powerful addition to the product line by providing faster performance and, because of the standard, open-source RISC-V architecture, will immediately make available all software and firmware associated with this architecture.

“This Phase II project is very important for us,” said Dr. Matt Francis, Ozark IC’s Founder and President. “By developing a high-temperature version of a standard microprocessor architecture like the RISC-V, we will be able to significantly expand the functionality, versatility, speed and reliability of our 200⁰C products. Our customers are also very excited about this prospect.”

Bruce Wood, Software Engineer for Pratt & Whitney said, “A 32-bit microcontroller that can last for over 10,000 hours at 200⁰C is a major improvement in jet engine electronics. And the use of a standard architecture, such as the RISC-V, is very desirable. We are looking forward to seeing the results of this Phase II project."

Ted Marena, Marketing Chair of RISC-V International, a non-profit consortium chartered to standardize, protect and promote the free and open RISC-V instruction set architecture, said “We are impressed that Ozark IC has chosen the RISC-V architecture for its high temperature work. The open Instruction Set Architecture (ISA) provides the flexibility to assist in the development of a 200⁰C version RISC-V processor. We look forward to devices such as the AQ-200 that widen the availability and applications of RISC-V microprocessors and accelerate the adoption of the RISC-V architecture.”

About Ozark Integrated Circuits Inc.
Ozark Integrated Circuits, Inc (Fayetteville, AR). was founded in 2011. Ozark IC’s mission is to “digitize” extreme environments by bringing best-in-class analog, mixed-signal and signal processing integrated circuits into the extreme conditions experienced in Energy Exploration, Aerospace, Space Exploration and Industrial Controls. Ozark IC’s solutions include hardware and software, integrated circuits and packaging. Ozark IC’s strategy and technology have led industry watchers to recognize Ozark IC as a disruptive player in the extreme environments/rugged electronics marketplace.
 
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