Taiwan-made SSDs enter space supply chain, aiding NASA lunar missions

The Overseas Community Affairs Council (OCAC) released a press statement applauding K. S. Pua, the CEO of Phison Electronics, for his recognition by the American aerospace company Skycorp. This recognition is attributed to Phison’s development of a 4TB Solid State Drive (SSD), which underwent testing aboard the International Space Station in 2022 and holds potential for future utilization in NASA’s lunar missions.

In September 2022, Phison and Skycorp announced their collaborative partnership aimed at bolstering space data processing and storage infrastructure. Skycorp incorporated Phison’s SSD storage solution into the Intelligent Space Systems Interface (iSSI) experimental aviation electronics equipment deployed on the International Space Station (ISS). This SSD originally featured a 4TB capacity and was seamlessly integrated with Microchip Technologies’ Polarfire™ System on Chip (SoC). These technologies have since advanced, resulting in the development of an 8TB SSD variant.

In order to secure NASA Technology Readiness Level 6 (TRL-6) certification, Phison subjected its 8TB M.2 PCIe 4.0 SSD to a rigorous battery of tests. These evaluations encompassed exposure to deep cryogenic temperatures, replicating lunar conditions, electromagnetic environmental certification assessments, as well as simulated pressure and environmental trials simulating a SpaceX Falcon 9 launch. Skycorp provided valuable assistance throughout these testing phases, collaborating with government and private testing facilities situated in Silicon Valley.

Within NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative, Lonestar, a company specializing in data storage and edge computing services, had its data center loaded onto Intuitive Machines’ NOVA-C lander. This groundbreaking development marked the inauguration of the world’s first data center dispatched to the lunar surface. To facilitate this remarkable mission, Lonestar selected Skycorp as its trusted partner for space-grade hardware infrastructure. Skycorp contributes its cutting-edge multi-core RISC-V hardware components to the space server architecture, which prominently features Phison’s space-certified 8TB M.2 PCIe 4.0 SSD storage solution.

Pan, a Malaysian overseas Chinese student, faced limited educational opportunities due to the Malaysian government’s lack of support for Chinese education. Consequently, studying abroad became the sole option for Malaysian overseas Chinese students seeking higher education. Pan chose to enroll in the Department of Electronics and Electrical Engineering at National Chiao Tung University, which paved the way for his career in IC design.

Pan strongly emphasizes the significance of research and development as the cornerstone of Taiwan’s technological industry. Beyond consumer-oriented R&D, Phison proudly contributes to space projects by providing essential components. Notably, Phison’s products were employed in NASA’s “Perseverance” rover, which successfully landed on Mars in 2020. Additionally, Phison’s proprietary enterprise-grade SSD technology plays a crucial role in addressing the cybersecurity needs of government agencies.

In accordance with the amendment to Article 10-2 of the “Statute for Industrial Innovation” (Taiwan version of CHIPS Act) passed by the Legislative Yuan, companies that incur research and development expenses exceeding NT$6 billion, achieve a research and development density of 6%, and spend at least NT$10 billion on advanced process equipment are eligible for tax incentives upon approval by the Ministry of Economic Affairs. Phison stands out as one of the few semiconductor companies in Taiwan that meet these stringent criteria.

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