Niobium chosen for the First Round of the 2021 NASA Entrepreneurs Challenge

September 29, 2021
Tiffany Jennings

Niobium Microsystems is excited to announce we have been selected for an award from the NASA Entrepreneurs Challenge under the SmallSat Science Technologies focus area. The challenge is looking for ideas that advance the state-of-the-art in three technology focus areas and apply to both NASA objects and commercial applications. President, Colin Morrow, believes “This research takes us one step closer to the goal of putting a Niobium radiation-tolerant microchip into Space.” 

Our team is developing a radiation-tolerant SWaP efficient processor system on chip (SoC), which is coupled with a high-definition vision sensor for next-generation machine vision applications. The concept builds our existing GLASS-CV SoC which operates with commercially available sensors using conventional DNN models for inference. Two chips have been fabricated to date, demonstrating significant performance improvements over existing commercial solutions, but the next generation will enable substantial improvements on energy efficiency than the current one.

The energy efficiency benefits over traditional SoCs come from the state-of-the-art internally developed circuit technology and advanced SoC architecture. In particular, the system utilizes asynchronous circuit design techniques to unlock extended dynamic voltage scaling not possible otherwise. “Our technology aims to bring advanced processing and intelligence capabilities to environments and form factors, where it was previously not possible. This research will help us take the next step in this direction. Space is a challenging environment where this can be applied and put to the test. Still, several earthbound applications can benefit from the outcome of this research,” says Niobium CTO, Georgios Dimou.