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Building the next generation high-speed data converters to strengthen European excellence and competitiveness on space applications and beyond

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - INTERSTELLAR (Building the next generation high-speed data converters to strengthen European excellence and competitiveness on space applications and beyond)

Reporting period: 2019-04-01 to 2020-09-30

"The goal of the INTERSTELLAR project is to build the next generation of high-speed data converters (Analog to Digital and Digital to Analog) to strengthen European excellence and competitiveness for Space and other applications

Higher integration with more channels on a board, lower power consumption, larger bandwidth and increased dynamic performance are all at stake here in order to enable the innovation expected by space industry and its customers, the satellite operators. Indeed, operators of currently foreseen satellite-borne telecommunications payloads are demanding more capable On Board Digital Signal Processors in order to interface effectively to complex antennas, flexibly generating hundreds of traffic beams and handling multi-GHz processed bandwidth per port.

This project will provide Space Industry with European key enabling data converters, ADC (Analog to Digital Converter) & DAC (Digital to Analog Converter), to:
* Ensure Europe’s non-dependence for such critical devices
* Boost Europe’s competitiveness
Circuits are most relevant for Telecommunications, Navigation, Earth Observation, and Science Missions.

The data converters of INTERSTELLAR show breakthrough innovation to reach Performances & Bandwidths beyond the state-of-the-art; these devices are:
* Multichannel ADC 12-bit resolution - very high bandwidth - high sampling rate - Output High Speed Serial Links
* Multi channel Broadband DAC, very high sampling rate, featuring unprecedented output frequency - Input High Speed Serial Links

in summary, here are 6 key objectives of the INTERSTELLAR project:
#1: Review the design and electrically characterize the multichannel 12-bit ADC then mature it up to TRL6.
#2: Design, manufacture, validate, electrically characterize the DAC and mature it up to TRL6.
#3: Validate the good behaviour of the ADC and DAC when submitted to mechanical and thermal stresses representative of space environment.
#4: Build and provide to partners demonstration boards to allow validating the devices, then to favour the adoption of the products by the market.
#5: Commercially evaluate the ADC and DAC within industrial applications and prepare the exploitation of the results
#6: Disseminate and communicate the results widely to maximize the impacts of the “INTERSTELLAR” H2020 project
On periods RP 1 and RP2 : Quad ADC and dual channel DAC:

Main achievements RP 1:
ADC design review (with Partners) explaining the key target performances of the device
ADC package design
Definition and specification of the electrical characterizations means (hardware, mechanics and software)
Specification of characterizations means to take into account irradiation tests constraints
Development and manufacturing of the electrical characterizations means
Definition of electrical characterization test plan
Elaboration of a detailed communication plan
Main achievements RP2:
ADC electrical Characterization including demontration of multi-ADC synchronization
Specification upgrade - Sampling rate up to 6.4 GSps
Demonstration board development and validation
Development and validation of industrial test means (Automatic Test equipment)
Development and validation of Qualification means (Burn-in, THB boards, ESD & Latch-up interfaces)
Preliminary qualification tests
Development of Test vehicles for thermal tests
Start of board level reliability tests
Development and validation of Total dose biasing boards
Update of dissemination & Communication plan
Many communications events related to Interstellar (presentation @ AMICSA, videos, press releases...)

The RP1 have seen significant work to specifiy the DAC in accordance to end-users & market expectations.
Main achievements RP1:
Selection of ST European BiCMOS process
Feasibility and trade-offs (performance, speed, power) validation regarding the key technical challenges which are HSSLs and extended output bandwidth at High sampling rate
Selection of number of channels and DAC resolution
Definition of the Preliminary Floor-plan
Estimation of die and package sizes
Preliminary Thermal simulation
Sign-off of specification with updated challenging key features ahead of initial target
Main achievements RP2:
Addition of new features to improve performances at high output frequencies and ease DAC usage at system level
Design of the DAC die
DAC package design
Definition and specification of the electrical characterizations means (hardware, mechanics and software)
Development of the electrical characterizations means (in progress)
Initialization of the DAC demo board

Overall coordination of the project in order to reach the challenging objectives of this project.
Full update of the Interstellar web site
Based on an end-users centered approach, INTERSTELLAR project sees specification, design, manufacturing, characterisation, test, evaluation and maturation to TRL6 of one new broadband DAC and the same steps starting from characterization for one new broadband ADC component. Both devices are to be suitable for deployment in space, specifically on telecommunications satellites and for other scientific, observation and navigation missions.
Baseline specifications for the devices include a very high sampling rate, an outstanding analogue bandwidth and serial data bus interfacing for efficient PCB routing implementation.
The goal is that at the end of the project both components shall represent a new state-of-the-art. The ultra-fast maximum real sampling rate in conjunction with the extended analogue bandwidths, attractive linearity performance and specific power consumption levels will make these components very useful in broadband telecommunications applications by reducing or even eliminating the need for RF down (Rx) and up (Tx) converters.

All the project's steps will target satisfaction of the customers’ expectations. Providing an answer to the major goal that represents the European non-dependence is also a makor stake. Moreover, the competitiveness of all members involved in the project, but also the competitiveness of the overall European space industry, will be strengthened.

In more detail for the ADC,
The work in INTERSTELLAR is to prepare a relevant response to the future needs of ADC. The plan of the project is to characterize and evaluate a new four channel 12bit ADC working at a high sampling rate in the single channel mode and extended input bandwidth . This ADC will feature a worthy application flexibility combined with high dynamic performance and high-speed serial data outputs. Package size and power consumption are worked out in order to optimize the SWaP (Size, Weight and Power).

In more detail for the DAC with extended output frequency
The work in INTERSTELLAR is to prepare a relevant response to the future needs of DAC, the plan of the project is to develop the next generation of Multichannel DAC relying on proven Teledyne e2v
expertise. The DAC updated objective is reconstructing signals at extremely high clock rate on each channel, with an extended bandwidth, a multimode feature, all combined with high dynamic performance, first-class level of spectral purity and high-speed serial data inputs . Package size and power consumption will be worked out in order to optimize the SWaP.
ADC Demonstration Board
Interstellar new logo
ADC Package diagram
view of ADC package
ADC package picture