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GPU4S (GPUs for Space) is a project funded by the European Space Agency (ESA), studying the applicability of embedded graphics processing units (GPUs) in the space domain. The project is coordinated by the Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC) and the consortium is completed with the participation of the Airbus Defence and Space division in Toulouse.
The space domain is witnessing an increase in the on-board computing performance demands, which comes from both control and payload parts of the spacecraft and calls for advanced electronics able to provide high computational power under the constraints of the harsh space environment. On the non-technical side, for strategic reasons it is mandatory to get European independence on the used computing technology.
In this project, we which is currently towards its end, we have demonstrated the feasibility of adopting embedded GPUs in space, showing that existing space algorithms not only are compatible with the GPU programming models, but they can also be accelerated significantly by the use of embedded GPUs. We have defined a new benchmarking suite for the evaluation of candidate GPU platforms for space and we have evaluated several state-of-the-art embedded SoCs featuring GPUs in terms of performance and performance efficiency, with the particular requirements of on-board systems. Finally, we have established a roadmap for the adoption of GPUs by the space sector in the near future.