Remember: when you absolutely have to get to Jupiter, choose PowerPC. (Heck, Mars too.)
Tuesday, July 5, 2016
Did Juno is a PowerPC?
Congratulations to NASA's Juno space probe team, which is now successfully in orbit around Jupiter. When you want radiation-hardened CPU designs (to guard against naughty things like cosmic rays flipping bits and zapping traces), you want BAE's RAD series, and that means you want ... PowerPC. Yes, Juno's brain is a lowly RAD750 running at 200MHz, essentially a beige Power Mac G3 with cojones of pure lead. It has 128MB of the baddest, meanest, toughest DRAM there is and 256MB of flash on board with a system bus providing 100Mbps of instrument bandwidth for pure awesome. The radiation around Jupiter, due largely to its intense magnetic fields acting essentially like gigantic particle accelerators, will expose the probe to the equivalent of a human getting 100 million dental X-rays in the course of a year (for me, that year was 6th grade); to enable it to survive its two year mission, NASA has encased the CPU and other critical components in a titanium box a third of an inch thick.