Research Topics

Reliability and Robustness of ICs

Modern structures in microtechnology and nanotechnology are just 350 to 40 nm in size. In the future, they will be only 130 to 22 nm. The field of system integration is also constantly advancing, and components are now being packed into the tightest of arrangements. As a result, the reliable functioning of a part is increasingly influenced by technological effects such as process fluctuations, aging, wear or electro-thermal interactions with other components.

Many new safety-critical applications, such as in automobiles, aviation, medical technology or industrial automation, are based on these technologies. These applications require parts with particularly long lifetimes that must still be inexpensive to manufacture.

In order to reliably guarantee the functioning of such parts and to tap the full potential of these new technologies, the error and failure mechanisms must be taken into consideration at various levels of abstraction (technology, components, integrated circuits, systems) even before manufacturing. This also includes accounting for interactions between individual effects. For example, manufacturing variations and wear affect the same properties of components. Aging and heating are also processes that influence each other.

The effects of faults and aging can be investigated at an early stage via mathematical models and simulations based on them. Alongside verification of the desired electrical behavior, these techniques also make it possible to verify the function of the entire system under a variety of usage conditions. At the same time, specific constraints on the circuit design and layout can be derived in order to take the requirements for reliability and robustness into account during development of the system.

 

Our Services

We offer various software tools with which the consequences of malfunctions or aging can be factored into the design of an electronic system at an early stage:

  • The tool HeatVision for rapid thermal chip analysis including seamless integration into the electrical circuit simulation
  • Analysis tool for potential hazards from electromigration and for reliable design of interconnects and vias (add-on tool for Cadence, adaptable for other design systems)
  • Analog fault simulator for determining the effects of parametric and catastrophic faults (stand-alone software, operates in conjunction with various network simulators)

In addition, we support our customers with the following services:

  • Creation of aging models for measured degradation effects and depiction in simulation models
  • Integration of aging models into existing design tools and workflows
  • Modeling of statistical relationships across multiple hierarchy levels
  • Evaluation of self-testing and error tolerance measures
  • Error diagnosis, localization and modeling

Benefits for Our Customers

  • Components and systems can be designed reliably and cost-efficiently.
  • Circuits and layouts are designed with better reliability.
  • Functional failures based on technological effects are avoided.
  • The failure causes for newly arising error effects can be identified.
  • We develop transparent solutions in close cooperation with our customers.
  • Integrated modeling and simulation solutions are produced.

References

We have developed our know-how in the following projects, for example

  • MoRV: The project aims to develop software which better takes into account variations and aging in the circuit designs.
  • RESIST: The partners are developing design processes for microchips and future systems that will permit even better fulfillment of the high quality and reliability requirements.
  • RELY (completed project): The aim is to research new design methods for ensuring quality, reliability and robustness during modern chip and electronics development.
  • Therminator (completed project): The project partner developed design guidelines for components which must function under severe temperature conditions.