'Self-Healing' Chips To Result From SRC Teamwork With Government, Academia 7/25/2006 San Francisco -- Semiconductor Research

Corporation (SRC)
announced the development of chips that refuse to fail. Joint research by SRC, the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the University of Michigan will focus on analysis of the future landscape of hard silicon failures and their impact on non-trivial designs, such as microprocessors and their switch components. Success by the collaborative research effort of government, business and academia may provide the key to the future reliability of smaller semiconductor designs. "In this project, we'll go much further than before by designing chips that can diagnose when components wear out and heal themselves on the fly," said Sankar Basu, program director at NSF. "The bolstering of scientific underpinnings of computing is extremely important to the NSF. This issue of ensuring reliability is critical to the future of high-performance computing for even the most aggressive of applications." Current industry efforts to make chips more reliable, through redundancy and other traditional means, involve both higher costs and the sacrifice of the speed that consumers have come to expect in nearly all electronics, from servers to cell phones to transportation. In comparison, results from this announcement of collaborative research are projected to provide defect-tolerant designs that will increase product lifetime through components that take longer to fail. Without innovative approaches to address in-field silicon failures, product lifetime will become dangerously short. "The aim is for chips that won't fail. That will be a first for the industry. The ramifications of increasing the reliability of the microprocessor in computing applications like planes, trains and automobiles is something we get very excited about," said William Joyner, SRC's director of Computer-Aided Design and Test for the Global Research Collaboration (GRC), a unit of the SRC that is responsible for narrowing the options for carrying CMOS to its ultimate limit. He is an IBM assignee to the consortium. "To continue the performance pace that billions of people have come to expect, we need more than technology advances. Sustained performance improvements require a critical coupling between technology and design." Benefits of the research will serve chipmakers and end-users in Asia and worldwide for communications, computing, aeronautics and aerospace applications, medical devices, automotive and consumer electronics, and a wide range of other applications that are dependent on silicon's correct performance. SOURCE: Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC)

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