FPGA fault tolerance in radiation environments

  • The constantly increasing memory density and performance of recent Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGA) has boosted a usage in many technical applications such as particle accelerators, automotive industry as well as defense and space. Some of these fields of interest are characterized by the presence of ionizing radiation as caused by natural decay or artificial excitation processes. Unfortunately, this type of radiation affects various digital circuits, including transistors forming Static Random Access Memory (SRAM) storage cells that constitute the technology node for high performance FPGAs. Various digital misbehavior in temporal or permanent manner as well as physical destruction of transistors are the consequence. Therefore, the mitigation of such effects becomes an essential design rule when using SRAM FPGAs in ionizing radiation environments. Tolerance against soft errors can be handled across various layers of modern FPGA design, starting with the most basic silicon manufacturing process, towards configuration, firmware, and system design, until finally ending up with application and software engineering. But only a highly optimized, joint concept of system-wide fault tolerance provides sufficient resilience against ionizing radiation effects without losing too much valuable device resources to the safety approach. This concept is introduced, analyzed, improved and validated in the present work. It includes, but is not limited to, static configuration scrubbing, various firmware redundancy approaches, dynamic memory conservation as well as state machine protection. Guidelines are given to improve manual design practices concerning fault tolerance and tools are shown to reduce necessary efforts. Finally, the SysCore development platform has been maintained to support the recommended design methods and act as Device Under Test (DUT) for all particle irradiation experiments that prove the efficiency of the proposed concept of system-wide fault tolerance for SRAM FPGAs in ionizing radiation environments.

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Author:Jáno Gebelein
Place of publication:Frankfurt am Main
Referee:Udo KebschullGND, Lars HedrichGND
Advisor:Udo Kebschull
Document Type:Doctoral Thesis
Date of Publication (online):2016/12/01
Year of first Publication:2016
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Granting Institution:Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität
Date of final exam:2016/11/22
Release Date:2016/12/01
Tag:Error Mitigation; FPGA; Fault Tolerance; Ionizing Radiation; Single Event Effects
Page Number:319
Institutes:Informatik und Mathematik / Informatik
Dewey Decimal Classification:0 Informatik, Informationswissenschaft, allgemeine Werke / 00 Informatik, Wissen, Systeme / 004 Datenverarbeitung; Informatik
Licence (German):License LogoDeutsches Urheberrecht