Skip to Main Content
Developing and maintaining industrywide standards for lifetime reliability is a critical task for all microprocessor manufacturers. Although technology scaling continues to provide significant performance benefits, increasingly smaller feature sizes and increasing power densities are accelerating the onset of wearout-based failures, thus shortening processor life. Microarchitects have traditionally treated processor lifetime reliability as a manufacturing problem, best left to device and process engineers. In current processors, manufacturers enforce lifetime reliability, or qualify it, during device design, circuit layout, manufacture, and chip test. This reliability qualification, which is application-oblivious, is based on estimates of worst case temperature and processor utilization. However, most applications will run at lower temperature and utilization, resulting in higher reliability and longer processor lifetimes than required. As a result, current reliability qualification methodologies are overly conservative, unnecessarily increasing cost or decreasing performance. Sustaining this approach will likely be infeasible in future scaled systems.