NASA is seeking radiation tolerant standard cell libraries for processes below 28nm that are suitable for NASA missions in the natural space environment. As a response, Alphacore proposes a complete library of radiation-hard standard cells implemented in the GlobalFoundries 22nm fully depleted silicon on insulator (FDSOI) CMOS fabrication process (GF 22FDX).
With CMOS downscaling, the soft error rate (SER) due to radiation-induced charge generation and collection in sensitive nodes of integrated circuits improves at the device level. However, as more memories and latches are integrated per chip, the chip-level SER increases with each new technology node. Thus, single-event effects (SEE) are a crucial concern in advanced nodes for high-reliability applications in space, atmospheric, and terrestrial radiation environments. SOI technologies have shown significant improvements in SEE resiliency due to reduction in charge deposition in sensitive volumes, immunity to single-event latch-up (SEL), and suppression of charge sharing mechanisms. In particular, Ultra-Thin Body and BOX technologies, such as 28nm and 22nm FDSOI, show excellent resiliency to SEEs and very low SER.
The Phase I program will strongly leverage Alphacore’s existing 22FDX radiation effect characterization, radiation hardening by design (RHBD), and overall mixed-signal IP development work. With its extensive experience in this area, Alphacore will have a complete radiation tolerant library designed by the end of the Phase I program. In Phase II, a complete radiation tolerant standard cell library will be fabricated and tested. The elements will be tested for functionality, circuit performance and radiation hardness, including both SEE and total ionizing dose (TID). Alphacore will also schedule another major tapeout within the Phase II program and containing optimized cells, ready to be used by NASA and other customers in their applications needing both excellent performance and radiation hardness.
NASA programs that will benefit from Alphacore’s rad-hard standard cell library include target applications for the High-Performance Spaceflight Chiplet (HSPC) ecosystem within Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD) and Science Mission Directorate (SMD), and future missions such as the Mars Fetch Rover, the WFIRST, the Lunar Gateway and SPLICE. The rad-hard library will also help the design of a wide range of space electronics outside of space-computing applications.
By supporting the development of advanced radiation-hardened components for space, Alphacore’s innovation can help enhance current technological capabilities and also achieve new and innovative scientific measurements for space discoveries and exploration; scientists will be able to gain a better knowledge of the universe and physics.