About ESA IP Cores

The contents of this page are related to reusable building blocks (also called Intellectual Property Cores, or IP Cores), mostly in VHDL language, for microelectronics use.

These IP Cores were developed in the scope of European Space Agency (ESA) activities, ranging from in-house developments to contractor work and from simple Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGA) to complex System-On-a-Chip (SOC) devices.

The IP cores provided by ESA are "soft-cores", i.e. technology independent. They can be synthesized and targeted to any ASIC or FPGA technology.

Why an IP Cores service by ESA?

ESA/ESTEC maintains and distributes under ESA licenses a small catalog of IP Cores which comprise typical digital functions used in space applications (TMTC, EDAC, SpaceWire, CAN, LEON2-FT, OBDH, etc). ESA/ESTEC provides this “IP Cores” service as an attempt to:

  • counteract obsolescence and discontinuity of existing space standard ASICs, thus helping to guarantee the availability of some key functions in a technology independent format (“soft format”).
  • reduce costs of large IC developments (e.g. Systems-on-Chip) by re-using already designed and validated IC functions.
  • promote and consolidate the use of standardized functions, protocols and/or architectures (e.g. SpaceWire, CAN, TMTC, etc).
  • centralize IP users’ feedback to improve quality of existing IPs and identify future needs.

The ESA IP cores can be licensed for space research and/or commercial use, under specific conditions (depending on the IP ownership) to companies based in ESA member and participant states.

How to use this site (steps to obtain an IP core)

  1. Get details about available IP cores
    The list of available IP cores is shown on the left of the page. By selecting each link, you are redirected to the specific page for the selected IP core. From that page you can get an overview of the functions of the IP core, download some documentation and even a precompiled simulation model (if available).
  2. Submit IP request form
    If you decide to apply for a license for one or more IP cores, please refer to the "Licensing" pages for more details, and the link to the IP request form. From the "Licensing" pages you can read more about the licensing process, and also get instructions on how to fill out and submit an IP request form.
  3. IP request screening and license preparation by ESTEC/ESA
    The submitted IP request is screened by ESTEC/ESA against general and specific IP licensing conditions. If all conditions are met, a license agreement for the provision of the requested IP core(s) is prepared, and sent to the customer for approval and signing. Each license document is tailored for the customer’s specific case.
  4. Delivery of requested IP Core(s) to customer
    If the user accepts the terms of the license agreement, a package with the requested IP core(s) is delivered to the user as soon as the license documents are received by the Agency, bearing licensee’s signatures.

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