How BPM’s device programmers master $100K antifuse FPGAs
The first few seconds are critical. There are a million things that have to go just right. If the rocket makes it to the second-stage burn, the engineers in mission control can begin to breathe again. For the payload specialists, the hard part is still hours, days, or even years to come. Where their satellite, probe, or manned mission is going, there are no service calls. Under the harshest conditions that are known to exist (extremes of heat/cold, g-forces, radiation, etc.) their payloads are expected to perform flawlessly well beyond what’s even realistic back on earth.
Whether it’s a sensor on an anti-lock brake assembly or a telemetry chip on a satellite, there are increasing numbers of programmed devices where failure isn’t an option; either it’s difficult or impossible to replace in the field, or failure means the potential loss of irreplaceable life and equipment (or both). When it comes to programming a mission-critical antifuse device, who is the only authorized vendor on which Microsemi relies? BPM Microsystems.
According to a Microsemi white paper, an antifuse-based FPGA is, “the most secure programmable device available.” Antifuse FPGAs are a one-time programmable non-volatile device that never uses a bitstream. Once programmed, it can’t be intercepted, copied, modified, or corrupted. They are also highly impervious to radiation (“Rad-Hard”). On the other hand, you’ve only got one shot to program the device, so it’s vital that it be programmed correctly.
Read More Here
Antifuse FPGAs have been around since the ‘90s, yet are still the most secure silicon devices available. From a practical perspective, antifuse devices are virtually impossible to reverse engineer. For instance, to determine the difference between programmed and unprogrammed fuses requires a scanning electron microscope, which when used, physically destroys the device in the process.
A single blank antifuse device can range in cost from a few thousand dollars to as much as $100,000! When a single device can cost as much as 50 times as much as the system that programs it, Microsemi has only licensed BPM to build their family of Silicon Sculptor programmers, now entering the 4th generation. The latest, the Silicon Sculptor 4 is built on the BPM 9th Generation site technology; 9th Gen programming sites are the most universal, most widely developed (35K+ devices and growing), fastest programming technology in the industry, and has been vetted by the most rigorous and demanding requirements in the business of programming. The underlying architecture was developed from the testing industry and is capable of generating the cleanest waveforms for the highest signal integrity, ensuring maximum trouble-free life in the field (even if that field is deep space).
When one chip costs more than some automated systems (such as BPM’s 3901 Automated Programming System that starts at just under $90K) and there is no “second chance,” it has to be perfect the first time. The Silicon Sculptor 4 continues the tradition of delivering consistent quality devices to places where repair trucks can’t go.
Hardly anyone has the same quality requirements as antifuse devices. It is comforting to know the same attention to clean waveforms that Microsemi relies on is available to everyone. Anyone can benefit from the design criteria that are built into BPM’s 9th Gen family of programmers. Signal quality, power supply design, and system self-check ensure the highest level of quality for you.
BPM has instituted enhanced antiseptic cleaning
Our mission today is more important than ever. We are serving the global fight against our common enemy– SARS-Cov-2 – the virus that is causing COVID-19. This week, we’ve shipped a 3910 Automated Programming System to produce digital thermometers. And, we are doing a rush Device Support Request that is required to program MCUs that will control hospital beds. These beds are being produced immediately to set up new overflow hospitals. These two projects will save many thousands of lives. How often do you get to go to work and save thousands of lives? Pretty cool.
To help address the new leadership challenges we are facing, I am promoting Jon Bondurant to Chief Operating Officer. Jon’s mission in the COO role is to keep the trains running on time, so to speak. The entire leadership team, and thus all employees, are now reporting to Jon. This will allow me to work on strategy and technology development. Jon has demonstrated great skill as a manager, leader and solution innovator. He’s already stepping up his responsibilities in integrating and coordinating Device Support, IT, Manufacturing and Inside Sales to increase our output as a whole company. We are starting to see results already. Please congratulate Jon and give him an air handshake (from a safe distance).
COVID-19 Impacts BPM
All BPM Microsystems employees have been instructed to comply with the social distancing requirements, in addition to wearing N95 masks, in order to minimize the spread of COVID-19
We took the precaution of buying enough N95 masks (Filters out 95 percent of particles that are at least 0.3 microns in diameters.) for all employees when they were still available. To protect all of us, we are wearing these masks at work. The masks work not only because they filter the air you breathe, but they also keep you from touching your lips and nose, plus they diminish aerosols produced by coughing, sneezing, clearing your throat and speech. Do not lose your mask. They are exceptionally hard to get right now.
We are busy saving thousands of lives. And, we will get through this.
Founder and CEO,
To: State or local law enforcement and public health & safety officials
Re: Notice of Engagement in Essential Business / Essential Travel
BPM Microsystems, Inc. is deemed to be an essential business.
On March 23, 2020, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) listed ESSENTIAL CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE WORKERS DURING COVID-19 RESPONSE to help state and local officials as they work to protect their communities while ensuring continuity of functions critical to public health and safety, as well as economic and national security. This list includes several segments that BPM Microsystem’s business operations support. Those segments include, but are not limited to: Workers necessary for the manufacturing and distribution of products needed for medical supply chains and for supply chains associated with transportation, energy, food and agriculture, waste pickup, chemical manufacturing, nuclear facilities, water and wastewater treatment, emergency services, and the defense industrial base.
All BPM Microsystems employees have been instructed to comply with the Social Distancing Requirements in order to minimize the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. All non-essential BPM Microsystems employees have been instructed to work from home.
Download Official Letter
VP Operations, BPM Microsystems