This paper describes the experimental techniques which have been developed at IBM to determine the sensitivity of electronic circuits to cosmic rays at sea level. It relates IBM circuit design and modeling, chip manufacture with process variations, and chip testing for SER sensitivity. This vertical integration from design to final test and with feedback to design allows a complete picture of LSI sensitivity to cosmic rays. Since advanced computers are designed with LSI chips long before the chips have been fabricated, and the system architecture is fully formed before the first chips are functional, it is essential to establish the chip reliability as early as possible. This paper establishes techniques to test chips that are only partly functional (e.g., only 1Mb of a 16Mb memory may be working) and can establish chip soft-error upset rates before final chip manufacturing begins. Simple relationships derived from measurement of more than 80 different chips manufactured over 20 years allow total cosmic soft-error rate (SER) to be estimated after only limited testing. Comparisons between these accelerated test results and similar tests determined by “field testing” (which may require a year or more of testing after manufacturing begins) show that our experimental techniques are accurate to a factor of 2.
Note: The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Incorporated is distributing this Article with permission of the International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) who is the exclusive owner. The recipient of this Article may not assign, sublicense, lease, rent or otherwise transfer, reproduce, prepare derivative works, publicly display or perform, or distribute the Article.