Ozark IC to Continue Ultra-High-Temperature Processor Development for NASA


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Ozark Integrated Circuits Inc. in Fayetteville, AR was selected for a $750k, two-year Phase II R&D awards from NASA. The award will allow Ozark IC to develop a high-temperature packaging and multi-chip processor system capable of long-term operation at 500oC (nearly 900 degrees F) – a vital component for Venus exploration and many other applications, such as military/aerospace companies addressing jet and hypersonic engine needs.

Based on the successful results of a Phase I project that started in the fall of 2019, Ozark IC will continue development of a multi-chip package for high-temperature, high-density electronic systems. Ozark IC will create the first 500⁰C RISC-V multi-chip system in a package as a way to illustrate the techniques (design procedures and the multi-chip package with high-temperature components) that go into creating a high-temperature electronic system.  The integrated circuit technology that will be used to create the RISC-V microprocessor is the NASA Glenn Research Center silicon carbide (SiC) JFET-R integrated circuit (IC) process, currently under license by Ozark IC. The IC components of the microprocessor system will be fabricated at NASA Glenn in Cleveland.

Ozark IC will perform the design of the processor and the multi-chip package, as well as functional testing of the complete 500⁰C RISC-V microprocessor. This heterogeneous chip integration system is the first of its kind for extreme high-temperature operation and is the latest and most complex demonstration of the technology that Ozark IC has been developing for extreme temperature operation. In the project, Ozark IC will use a 3Dn Tabletop system from Sciperio outfitted with a SmartPumpTM tool head and a surface mapping laser for conformal printing.

Complex electronic systems that can operate at high temperatures are necessary for space exploration, especially on the Venus surface (~470⁰C). A 500⁰C RISC-V microprocessor is a fundamental computing building block for almost all space exploration functions (such as actuation, environment sensing, robotic motion etc.) on the Venus surface. The processor allows for in-situ processing – putting the intelligence right at the point of sensing or actuation.

Other high temperature environments that can use this computing building block to perform the same functions are found in rockets, geothermal wells, jet engines, and hypersonic systems. The conditions inside a deep geothermal well, for example, are similar to the Venus surface: high temperatures, high pressures, and corrosive acids.

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