Xilinx Associate Partner

The INGESPACE participation in the ULISS project

by C.HAARDT, Thales Alenia Space project manager

Led by the Research and Development of the R & D directorate at Thales Alenia Space France, the ULISS (Ultra fast Internet Satellite Switching) project is funded by the European and French space agencies. The main goal of this project is to prepare the future satellite payloads for Multimedia missions in Ka Band

The ULISS team is composed of organizations within the European and Canadian space sectors - Thales Alenia Space France being the prime contractor - supported by the Ingespace company in France, the German Aerospace Center (DLR), Alcatel Lucent R&I in Germany, and Lyrtech in Canada.


The ULISS hardware demonstrator is hosted in an ATCA shelf and is composed of two main parts :
- the first one is in charge of the useful data (wideband transparent processing oriented), this part includes innovative technologies like 10G using integrated transceivers (MGT), it allows a 200Gbit/sec cumulative throughput.
- the second one (switch controller) deals with the header and signalling flow, it is regenerative processing oriented. In order to fulfil flexibility and performance an advanced System on Chip processing architecture (SoC) has been developed.

Thanks to FPGA technology, it has been possible to deal with high performances and flexibility. More than 20 XILINX Virtex4 FX FPGA have been used in the ULISS project.
Packet allocation and scheduling algorithm has been also designed and transposed into hardware with technological feasibility feedbacks. Innovative solutions for flexible QoS management have been proposed and mapped in a real time switch controller hardware.


Fully involved in the ULISS project, INGESPACE has successfully provided more than 6 key designs of the project, with a very high level of complexity :
- the switch controller (PCU) : based on high end SoC , including two VHDL cores both communicating with an embedded processor (PPC), able to process near 500,000 users per second in a flexible way.
- High speed traffic emulator and monitoring function : based on high performance VHDL core, and connected to several Multi Gigabit transceivers MGT,
- Flexible Data Generator and Data Recorder, to enable fast and efficient integration of the different parts and check bit to bit compliance with the simulation.

The INGESPACE UdpStack has been widely used in designs for fast and easy communication between the FPGAs and the computer user. For example, the UdpStack has accelerated the FPGA configuration from more than one hour with a standard software stack, to few seconds ! The UdpStack has also enabled important cost saving for the video demonstration (initial MPEG equipments been replaced by low cost computers), as for data generation and recording.

In addition, INGESPACE has successfully supported the integration of all partners contributions (9 interconnected boards) and gave relevant expertise to pass customer review.

INGESPACE has also provided all necessary documentation, in line with Thales Alenia Space and European Space agencies expectations, including oral slides presentation.

The ULISS project has been very challenging, using the latest FPGA technologies, and composed of remote teams. It is now in a final a successful integration phase.

Thales Alenia Space considers INGESPACE as a key partner for this project, and thanks this company to the professionalism and the very high level of expertise offered.