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Modeling the Effect of Technology Trends on the Soft Error Rate of Combinational Logic

By Premkishore Shivakumar, Stephen W. Keckler, Doug Burger, Michael Kistler and Lorenzo Alvisi


This paper examines the effect of technology scaling and microarchitectural trends on the rate of soft errors in CMOS memory and logic circuits. We describe and validate an end-to-end model that enables us to compute the soft error rates (SER) for existing and future microprocessorstyle designs. The model captures the effects of two important masking phenomena, electrical masking and latchingwindow masking, which inhibit soft errors in combinational logic. We quantify the SER due to high-energy neutrons in SRAM cells, latches, and logic circuits for feature sizes from 600nm to 50nm and clock periods from 16 to 6 fan-out-of-4 inverter delays. Our model predicts that the SER per chip of logic circuits will increase nine orders of magnitude from 1992 to 2011 and at that point will be comparable to the SER per chip of unprotected memory elements. Our result emphasizes that computer system designers must address the risks of soft errors in logic circuits for future designs

Year: 2002
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