Digital instrumentation and control (I&C) systems are widely used in many industrial areas. In the recent years, the digitalization process for nuclear power plants has also been moving on rapidly. Full digital I&C systems are now adopted in almost all new constructed nuclear power plants. The architecture of a digital I&C system plays a pivotal role for the safety, reliability and security of the whole nuclear power plant. Moreover, for the advanced small modular reactors, both the reliability and extensibility of I&C systems are especially required.
Therefore, in this paper we propose a new architecture of the digital I&C systems based on the developed computing performance and communication technology. The control units and the data servers in the new proposed architecture are decentralized and working in a mutually redundant and distributed computing/storage way. Thus the architecture is with a flexible extensibility. Moreover, other control units or data servers can take over the functions of a certain number of failed ones. This characteristic benefits the system’s reliability significantly. The reliability of the new architecture is theoretically evaluated and the results demonstrate that it is much higher than that of the traditional architecture of I&C systems.