MEDIA RELATIONS OFFICE
JET PROPULSION LABORATORY
CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION
PASADENA, CALIF. 91109 TELEPHONE (818) 354-5011
Contact: John G. Watson
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEDecember 8, 1998
NASA TO HAVE ACCESS TO RADIATION-HARDENED PENTIUM CHIP
NASA and other federal agencies will soon have access to the
technology for a radiation-hardened version of Intel's Pentium
chip for use in future missions.
Intel Corp. announced today that it will provide a royalty-
free license for its Pentium processor design to the Department
of Energy for the development of custom-made microprocessors for
space and defense purposes. The agreement provides the government
with a ten-fold increase in processing power over the highest-
performing currently available radiation-hardened chips.
Radiation hardening is required to shield systems and
applications from radiation, such as cosmic rays, which affect
the reliability of conventional electronics.
"The successful development of this new chip will bring
advanced computing capability to our missions in deep space where
the radiation environment is much too severe for commercial
devices," said Dr. Edward C. Stone, director of NASA's Jet
Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA.
NASA's Deep Space Systems Technology Development Program,
known as X2000, will serve as one of several Department of Energy
partners to develop chip applications, in this case applications
specific to future NASA missions. The program is intended to
develop and deliver advanced spacecraft systems and avionics
technologies to missions bound for different destinations in the
solar system and beyond.
"High-performance radiation-hardened processors will enable
many future space missions, both deep space and Earth-orbiting,"
said Dr. Leon Alkalai, head of JPL's Center for Integrated Space
Microsystems, an element of the X2000 program. "This technology
is cross-cutting within all of NASA's enterprises, including
space science, Earth science, aeronautics, and human exploration
and development of space."
In a ceremony at Intel's headquarters in Santa Clara, CA,
Intel said it would license the chip design to Sandia National
Laboratories, the U.S. Department of Energy's lead facility for
microelectronics research and development. Sandia will develop a
custom radiation-hardened version of the Pentium processor for
use in satellites, space vehicles and defense systems. A key goal
of the agreement is the eventual transition of the technology
into the commercial radiation-hardened semiconductor fabrication
The Pentium processor redesign effort will involve several
government agencies and laboratories that are expected to use the
increased computing power for a variety of applications. JPL, the
Department of Energy, the Air Force Research Laboratory and the
National Reconnaissance Office are the initial institutions with
applications for future use. Among those applications will be
Earth satellites, space probes, radiation environments on Earth,
missile defense and advanced military systems.
JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology,
Related public affairs contacts:
Sandia National Laboratories
National Reconnaissance Office
Department of Energy
Air Force Research Laboratory