Quality of service for high-speed interconnection networks onboard spacecraft

  • Albert Ferrer Florit

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    State-of-the-art onboard spacecraft avionics use SpaceWire networks to interconnect payload data-handling sub-systems. This includes high data-rate sensors and instruments, processing units, and memory devices. SpaceWire is an interconnection network composed of nodes and routers connected by bi-directional, point-to-point, high-speed, serial-data communication links. SpaceWire is established as one of the main data-handling protocols and is being used on many ESA, NASA and JAXA spacecraft.

    SpaceWire is very successful for being fast, flexible and simple to use and implement. However it does not implement Quality of Service mechanisms, which aim to provide guarantees in terms of reliability and timely delivery to data generated by network clients. Quality of Service is increasingly being deployed in commercial ground technologies and its availability for space applications, which requires high reliability and performance, is of high interest for the space community.

    This thesis researches how Quality of Service can be provided to existing SpaceWire networks. Existing solutions for ground-based technologies cannot be directly used because of the constraints imposed by the limitations of space-qualified electronics. Due to these limitations SpaceWire uses wormhole routing which has many benefits but makes it more challenging to obtain timing guarantees and to achieve a deterministic behaviour.

    These challenges are addressed in this work with a careful analysis of existing Quality of Service techniques and the implementation of a novel set of protocols specifically designed for SpaceWire networks. These new protocols target specific use cases and utilise different mechanisms to achieve the required reliability, timely delivery and determinism. Traditional and novel techniques are deployed for first time in SpaceWire networks.
    In particular, segmentation, acknowledgements, retry, time-division multiplexing an cross-layer techniques are considered, analysed, implemented and evaluated with extensive prototyping efforts.

    SpaceWire provides high-rate data transfers but the next generation of payload instruments are going to require multi-gigabit capabilities. SpaceFibre is a new onboard networking technology under development which aims to satisfy these new requirements, keeping compatibility with SpaceWire user-applications. As a new standard, SpaceFibre offers the opportunity to implement Quality of Service techniques without the limitations imposed by the SpaceWire standard.

    The last part of this thesis focuses on the specification of the SpaceFibre standard in order to provide the Quality of Service required by next generation of space applications. This work includes analytical studies, software simulations, and hardware prototyping of new concepts which are the basis of the Quality of Service mechanisms defined in the new SpaceFibre standard. Therefore, a critical contribution is made to the definition and evaluation of a novel Quality of Service solution which provides high reliability, bandwidth reservation, priority and deterministic delivery to SpaceFibre links.
    Date of Award2013
    Original languageEnglish
    SponsorsEuropean Space Agency - ESA
    SupervisorStephen Parkes (Supervisor)


    • SpaceWire
    • SpaceFibre
    • Spacecraft
    • Quality of service
    • Network
    • Protocol
    • Wormhole routing

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