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A low-cost, radiation-hardened method for pipeline protection in microprocessors

Lin, Yang, Zwolinski, Mark and Halak, Basel (2016) A low-cost, radiation-hardened method for pipeline protection in microprocessors IEEE Transactions on Very Large Scale Integration (VLSI) Systems, 24, (5), pp. 1688-1701.

Record type: Article


The aggressive scaling of semiconductor technology has significantly increased the radiation-induced soft error rate in modern microprocessors. Meanwhile, due to the increasing complexity of modern processor pipelines and the limited error-tolerance capabilities that previous radiation hardening techniques can provide, the existing pipeline protection mechanisms cannot achieve complete protection. This paper proposes a complete and cost-effective pipeline protection mechanism using a self-checking architecture. The radiation hardened pipeline is achieved by incorporating SETTOFF-based self-checking cells into the sequential cells of the pipeline. A replay recovery mechanism is also developed at the architectural level to recover the detected errors. The proposed pipeline protection technique is implemented in an OpenRISC microprocessor in 65nm technology. A gate-level transient fault injection and analysis technique is used to evaluate the error-tolerance capability of the proposed hardened pipeline design. The results show that compared to techniques such as TMR, the SETTOFF-based self-checking technique requires over 30% less area and 80% less power overheads. Meanwhile, the error-tolerant and self-checking capabilities of the register allow the proposed pipeline protection technique to provide a noticeably higher level of reliability for different parts of the pipeline compared to previous pipeline protection techniques.

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Accepted/In Press date: 19 August 2015
Published date: 1 May 2016
Organisations: EEE


Local EPrints ID: 381050
ISSN: 1063-8210
PURE UUID: c1008d57-3552-4ea9-9d9b-077d57585241
ORCID for Mark Zwolinski: ORCID iD

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Date deposited: 22 Sep 2015 15:47
Last modified: 24 Jul 2017 16:38

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Author: Yang Lin
Author: Mark Zwolinski ORCID iD
Author: Basel Halak

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