Frontgrade Awarded ESA Contract for Development and Validation of New LEON3FT Microcontroller for Space Applications

Gothenburg, Sweden – Cobham Gaisler, the leading space design centre of Cobham Advanced Electronic Solutions, announced today that it has received a contract from the European Space Agency (ESA) for the development and validation of a new mixed-signal LEON3FT microcontroller. This development helps meet market demands for high reliability, radiation-hardened microcontrollers based on the existing LEON processor technology.

Cobham Gaisler’s new GR716B LEON3FT Microcontroller is based on its previous joint ESA collaboration Microcontroller for Embedded Applications resulting in the popular GR716 series of microcontrollers for radiation-hardened mixed signal processing applications. Under the new contract, upgrades will be made to the existing GR716 architecture including additional analog functions, support for DC/DC conversion and in-orbit latch-up monitoring of Commercial-Off-the-Shelf (COTS) devices, as well as programming and scrubbing of reprogrammable Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) devices such as the RT Kintex UltraScale FPGA from Xilinx.

Cobham Gaisler’s GR716B LEON3FT Microcontroller is an ideal solution for supervision, monitoring and control in a satellite, including applications such as remote terminal and instrument control units, propulsion systems, robotics, motor control, power switching converters for full-bridge topologies with power system monitoring, and for latch-up detection and protection of COTS devices. Operating at 100MHz, the GR716B LEON3FT Microcontroller features multiple 8-channel 11- and 13-bit ADCs with integrated pre-amplifier and differential/single ended input up to 500Ksps sample rate; multiple 12-bit DACs; fast analog comparators; a 2-port SpaceWire router with time distribution support; dual CAN-FD with CANOpen support; nominal/redundant MIL-STD-1553B; 10/100 Ethernet; PacketWire; UART; SPI with ESA’s SPI-for-Space protocol support; I2C; PWM; Real-Time Accelerators; multiple programable DMA channels, and integrated power and reset management. In addition, it offers an external memory interface of 8-bit parallel data or serial 1-bit data width and incorporates on-chip regulators for single 3.3V supply support, a feature not commonly found in mixed-signal devices for space. 

The new GR716B development is funded by the ESA ARTES (Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems) Competitiveness & Growth element with funding support from the Swedish National Space Agency (SNSA) and Cobham Gaisler. The ARTES Competitiveness & Growth element is dedicated to the development, qualification, and demonstration of products such as a piece of equipment, either of the platform or payload of a satellite, a user terminal or a full telecom system integrating a network with its respective space segment. As a result, the GR716B microcontroller will be assembled in a hermetic ceramic encapsulated package and is expected to be made available in prototyping quality in early 2022. 

"The GR716B microcontroller will bring new capabilities to the space market with dedicated support for latch-up detection and protection of COTS devise as well as high-speed scrubbing of FPGAs. It will also be a key building block of our Artificial Intelligence board level solution, the High Performance Compute Board (HPCB), which is based on the use of COTS AI devices,” said Fredrik Johansson, microcontroller product owner, Cobham Gaisler. 

“We continue to leverage our LEON processor technology for demanding space applications with the new GR716B microcontroller. The GR716 series of devices does not only bring mixed-signal capabilities to LEON processors, it also implements highly deterministic microcontrollers suitable for hard real-time embedded programming,” said Sandi Habinc, General Manager, Cobham Gaisler.

“We are very pleased to be working with Cobham to develop an attractive new product that is free from export restrictions and capable of meeting a diverse range of commercial market needs” said Joan Fort Alsina, Flight Product Engineer and Technical Officer in the Telecommunications directorate, European Space Agency. 

In addition to the GR716B microcontroller, Cobham Gaisler’s GR716A microcontroller is currently undergoing qualification. For more information about Cobham Gaisler’s GR716 microcontroller family  as well as its processors and software products, please visit

About Cobham Advanced Electronic Solutions

Cobham Advanced Electronic Solutions is the largest provider of analog and radiation hardened technology for the United States aerospace and defense industry. With a broad portfolio of off-the-shelf and customized RF, microwave and high reliability microelectronic products and subsystems, CAES offers a complete range of solutions for the entire signal chain from aperture to digital conversion.