Sentinel Silicon™ Die-Level Reliability Monitors

All manufactured products, including integrated circuits, are subject to wear-out and eventual failure. For applications where reliability is of primary concern, it is essential that on-chip state-of-health be constantly monitored. Traditional reliability testing provides an average lifetime and cannot predict the behavior of individual ICs. Sentinel Silicon™ is a library of die-level monitors that serve as “canaries in the coal mine,” providing advance warning of wear-out in order to prompt mitigating actions to avoid catastrophic component and system failure.

Sentinel Silicon is a suite of patented and silicon-proven prognostic IP blocks that measure degradation in a device on-die. The prognostic cell is a clone of devices in the host circuit, electrically stressed to accelerate its wear-out. By carefully calibrating the stress factors, measured degradation in the canary is used to predict remaining life in the host circuit.


Determining the Prognostic Distance

Degradation may be due to various deep-submicron (DSM) semiconductor process wear-out mechanisms or radiation dosage. The Sentinel Silicon library consists of IP blocks to implement die-level monitors covering:

DSM effects

Radiation effects

These DSM effects can adversely affect the performance of various kinds of memories, processors, data converters, and other circuits. They tend to become more severe as IC process geometries shrink. Of course, radiation can affect virtually any circuit over time, especially in applications like satellites and space exploration, nuclear power, high-energy physics experiments, and radiology.

Prognostic IP cells enable host ICs to observe and then communicate impending wear-out to the enclosing system via a standard interface (e.g., JTAG).

Product Briefs – Sentinel Silicon library cells

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