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Encyclopedia > Single event upset

A single event upset (SEU) is a change of state, or voltage pulse caused when a high-energy particle strikes a sensitive node in a micro-electronic device, such as in a microprocessor, semiconductor memory, or power transistors. An error in device output or operation caused by an SEU is considered a soft error. Microprocessors, including an Intel 80486DX2 and an Intel 80386. ... Semiconductor memory is a generic term referring to any computer storage method implemented on a semiconductor-based integrated circuit. ... Photo of transistor types (tape measure marked in centimeters) Transistor in the SMD form factor The transistor is a solid state semiconductor device used for amplification and switching. ... In electronics and computing, an error is a signal or datum which is wrong. ...


An SEU happens due to cosmic particles which collide with atoms in the atmosphere, creating cascades or showers of neutrons and protons. At deep sub-micrometre geometries, this affects semiconductor devices at sea level. In space, the problem is worse in terms of higher energies (may cause destructive latch-up, described below). Similar energies are possible on a terrestrial flight over the poles or at high altitude. Trace amounts of radioactive elements in chip packages also lead to SEUs (see Soft error). Frequently, SEUs are referred to as bitflips. A semiconductor is a material with an electrical conductivity that is intermediate between that of an insulator and a conductor. ... For considerations of sea level change, in particular rise associated with possible global warming, see sea level rise. ... A latchup is the inadvertent creation of a low-impedance path between the power supply rails of an electronic component, triggering a parasitic device, which then acts as a short circuit, leading to ceasement of proper function of the part and perhaps even its destruction with the overcurrent. ... Radioactive decay is the set of various processes by which unstable atomic nuclei (nuclides) emit subatomic particles. ... Integrated circuit packaging is the final stage of semiconductor device fabrication per se, followed by IC testing. ... In electronics and computing, an error is a signal or datum which is wrong. ...


The sensitivity of a device to SEU can be empirically estimated by placing a test device in a particle stream at a cyclotron or other particle accelerator facility. Ultimately, a large number of parts must be observed at different altitudes to find the actual rate of upset, as particle beam testing can be innaccurate. When testing microprocessors for SEU, the software used to exercise the device must also be evaluated to determine which sections of the device were activated when SEUs occurred. In particle physics, an elementary particle or fundamental particle is a particle not known to have substructure; that is, it is not made up of smaller particles. ... A pair of Dee electrodes with loops of coolant pipes on their surface at the Lawrence Hall of Science. ... A 1960s single stage 2MeV linear Van de Graaff accelerator, here opened for maintenance A particle accelerator is a device that uses electric and/or magnetic fields to propel electrically charged particles to high speeds. ... Microprocessors, including an Intel 80486DX2 and an Intel 80386. ...


Normally, SEUs are transient events. But occasionally, charged particles will activate a "parasitic" thyristor in a chip, turning it on and shorting power to ground. This condition is referred to as latchup, and in absence of constructional countermeasures often destroys the device. Most manufacturers design to prevent latch-up, and test their products to ensure that latch-up does not occur from atmospheric particle strikes. In order to prevent latch-up in space, epitaxial substrates are often used to further reduce the susceptibility. Transient means passing with time. ... Circuit symbol for a thyristor The thyristor is a solid-state semiconductor device with four layers of alternating N and P-type material. ... A latchup is the inadvertent creation of a low-impedance path between the power supply rails as a result of triggering a parasitic device, which then opens and acts as a short circuit, leading to ceasement of proper function of the part and perhaps even its destruction with the overcurrent. ... Epitaxy is the growth of crystals of one material on the crystal face of another (heteroepitaxy) or the same (homoepitaxy) material, such that the two materials have a defined relative structural orientation. ...


Single event upsets were first described during above ground nuclear testing, from 1954 to 1957, when many anomalies were observed in electronic monitoring equipment. Further problems were observed in space electronics during the 1960s, although it was difficult to separate soft-fails from other forms of interference. In 1978 the first evidence of soft errors from alpha particles in packaging materials was described by Timothy C. May and M.H. Woods. In 1979 James Ziegler of IBM, joined with W. Lanford of Yale, first described the mechanism whereby sea level cosmic ray could cause single event upsets in electronics. Preparation for an underground nuclear test at the Nevada Test Site in the 1980s. ... 1954 (MCMLIV) was a common year starting on Friday of the Gregorian calendar. ... 1957 (MCMLVII) was a common year starting on Tuesday of the Gregorian calendar. ... The 1960s decade refers to the years from 1960 to 1969, inclusive. ... 1978 (MCMLXXVIII) was a common year starting on Sunday (the link is to a full 1978 calendar). ... In electronics and computing, an error is a signal or datum which is wrong. ... An alpha particle is deflected by a magnetic field Alpha particles (named after the first letter in the Greek alphabet, α) are a highly ionizing form of particle radiation which have low penetration. ... Tim May was an engineer and chief scientist at Intel at an early and crucial point in that companys history. ... This page refers to the year 1979. ... International Business Machines Corporation (IBM, or colloquially, Big Blue) (NYSE: IBM) (incorporated June 15, 1911, in operation since 1888) is headquartered in Armonk, New York, USA. The company manufactures and sells computer hardware, software, and services. ... Yale redirects here. ... Cosmic rays can loosely be defined as energetic particles originating outside of the Earth. ...


See also Radiation hardening. Microelectronics designed for environments with high levels of ionizing radiation have special design challenges. ...

Contents


References

General SEU

Aerial view of Goddard Space Flight Center. ...

SEU in programmable logic devices

May 6 is the 126th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (127th in leap years). ... 2005 (MMV) was a common year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar. ... October 25 is the 298th day of the year (299th in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar, with 67 days remaining. ... 2004 (MMIV) was a leap year starting on Thursday of the Gregorian calendar. ...

SEU in microprocessors


  Results from FactBites:
 
Single event upset - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (575 words)
A single event upset (SEU) is an event that occurs when a charged particle deposits some of its charge in a micro-electronic device, such as a CPU, memory chip, or power transistor.
The sensitivity of a device to SEU can be empirically estimated by placing a test device in a particle stream at a cyclotron or other particle accelerator facility.
Single event upsets were first described during above ground nuclear testing, from 1954 to 1957, when many anomalies were observed in electronic monitoring equipment.
Power MOSFET Single Event Burnout (4037 words)
Single event burnout occurs mostly in space where the heavy ion component of cosmic rays and solar flares are the source of the heavy ions.
Part data needed for design is the Single Event Effects cross section for the part, which usually has to be measured since it varies between manufacturers for the same part.
Single event effects (error rate, burnout, etc) for a part are determined in experiments using heavy ions in which a uniform beam hits the part.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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