PSAS/ LvTwoFlightComputerSearch

POWER Flight Computer Research

See also: FlightComputer, FlightComputerSoftware, Avionics, Software


Because of a IBM grant Bart just received, we're going to switch from our current ok-but-not-great-computationally-speaking 586-based FlightComputer to a POWER architecture board. We'll be doing this in parallel to current FlightComputerSoftware development, so that we don't have to throw out everything we've done to switch processors.

This is obviously a Great Thing for us: we'll be getting significantly more computrons in the FlightComputer which will be very, very good for our future INS work, and get us out of our current problem of having a hammered 586 FC with a terrible, terrible CAN chip.


Almost Requirements (Things We'd Really Like)



POWER Processors

POWER chips include: RS6000 (remember the IBM PC-RT?), RAD6000 (used in space equipment), POWER2, POWER3, POWER4 (all the POWER<N> are big iron machines), 970GP (used in Macintosh G5), 970FX. With the POWER4 and 970 chips, the POWER line finally became 100% PowerPC user-mode instruction set compliant, and even picked up the ?AltiVec instruction set from Motorola's (now ?FreeScale's) 74xx line. For more on the POWER architecture, see

Mfg Model Speeds Peripherals Notes

PowerPC Processors

Anything that is a 40x, 44x, 6xx, 7xx, 8xx, 74xx, E500, 85xx, is a PowerPC, which were derived from research on POWER at IBM (notably its RS6000 CPU). Here's a good list of IBM PPC chips.

Mfg Model Speeds Peripherals Notes
Freescale MPC5200 266MHz,400MHz CAN, USB, UARTS MPC603e core, double precision FPU
IBM PowerPC 440EP 400MHz USB single precision FPU

Rejected processors: 405xx (no FPU), 440EP (no USB).

POWER/PowerPC Boards has a very good overview/review of a few dozen small computer boards at:

And hey, bingo:

Here's a list of boards currently in the running:

Mfg Model Processor Speed RAM Flash Power Notes
Mikro Electronik gmbh PP01 MPC5200 384 MHz 128MB 16MB 1W(!) 2x CAN/USB through bizarre lockable side cableside w/ daughter boards, boot monitor built in, no ISA
TQ Components TQM5200 MPC5200 400 MHz 256 KB 64MB ? Weird tiny form factor (80mm x 60mm) with integrated SMT connectors on bottom, integrated display module (CRT/LCD)!!

Things to research:,,

Here's a list of boards we looked at but can't use:

Mfg Model Processor Speed RAM Flash Power Notes
Maxwell SCS750 PowerPC 750 800MHz 256MB 8MB 7 - 25W Radiation hardened! Triple redundancy! Too bad it's huge.
Embedded Planet EP5200 MPC5200 400MHz 64MB 8MB 10W CAN, USB, etc: just too big: 4.35 x 7.4 inches!
Freescale Lite5200 MPC5200 ? ? ? ? 5200 Development board: too big

Manufacturers we've researched so far:,,

Form factors we CAN'T use: Mini-ITX, EBX, VME (obviously).

Software support

IBM developerWorks has a Linux on Power Architecture developer's corner, including a series of articles on "Migrating from x86 to PowerPC": part 1, part 2.

A research project at De Nayer Institute (in Belgium?) has posted instructions on getting Linux running on the MPC5200.

DENX offers source for Linux 2.4.23 kernels on the MPC5200, as well as RTAI real-time patches and what they call the "Embedded Linux Development Kit".

The U-Boot boot loader project at SourceForge is GPLed and apparently supports the MPC5200.

Required Peripheral

PCI-104 (PC-104+) to PCMCIA adapter

Old Research

Our old research looking for PC104 586, CAN and PCMCIA boards: