Nowadays our modern life style completely depends on a multitude of integrated circuits (ICs) which are environing us. Their application field ranges from our common smart phones, over more and more sophisticated intelligent cars, to even medical implants. Year by year these ICs shrink in size due to a steady miniaturization process, but still become more and more efficient. Increasingly, partly vitally important tasks are assigned to these circuits.
As the miniaturizing process started decades ago, technology is on the verge of reaching the boundaries of atomic scales. Therefore quantum mechanical effects have to be considered, as they cause a multitude of new problems, which can be summed up by the term aging effects (see grey box below). In the past, system reliability only depended on manufacturing process variations and the possibility of sudden failure after long term usage. Recent systems in addition, tend to impair their characteristics over periods of years leading to a rapid system breakdown.
Techniques, commonly applied to increase system reliability, like triple installation and steady comparison of components (triple modular redundancy) are inapplicable for this kind of problem. As every component suffers the same aging effects they all tend to fail approximately at the same time.
Currently the industries only responds to that particular problem is to apply extreme safety margins. Partly systems are driven half their capable speed, just to eliminate the possibility of failure, even for the worst produced, worst aged system operating under worst possible conditions. That fact concludes that a significant fraction of the system capacity is sacrificed in recent systems neglecting a large amount of advantages gained by miniaturization.
This is where MoRV attaches. In MoRV the leading, aging effect focused research groups of industry (Infineon, IMEC, Global TCAD Solutions) and academia (TU Wien, Fraunhofer EAS, IROC, OFFIS) cooperate to create a quantum mechanical description and based on that to design simplified but accurate aging models of transistors, logic gates and even entire system components (e.g. an 8 bit multiplier). If a systems future performance, e.g. after years of usage, is already known during its design process, the system can be designed to adapt to its aged state and that decreases the required safety margins significantly.
MoRV is funded through the 7th framework programme ICT of the European Union (grant agreement number 619234).
More information is available on: https://morv-project.eu/
Dr. Domenik Helms
Group Manager Analysis of Nanometric ICs
Phone: +49 441 9722-284