"Radiation-Induced Multi-bit Upsets in Xilinx SRAM-Based FPGAs"

Paul Graham1, Heather Quinn1, Jim Krone1, Michael Caffrey1, Sana Rezgui2 and Carl Carmichael2

1Los Alamos National Laboratory
2Xilinx Corporation



In recent years, field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) with volatile programming memory, such as the Xilinx Virtex and Virtex-II families, have made inroads into space-based processing tasks. The main challenge of using FPGAs in the space environment is mitigating the effects of radiation-induced single-event upsets (SEUs) within these devices. These upsets could modify both the data being processed and the function and wiring of the digital circuits themselves. Several engineers and researchers have demonstrated that logic-level triple-modular redundancy (TMR) with scrubbing of the FPGA's programming (or configuration) data effectively mitigates the results of radiation-induced SEUs.

We have been studying the effect of protron and heavy ion radiation on Xilinx FPGAs for several years to determine the sensitivity (cross-section) of SRAM-based FPGAs in space-based applications. During our research, we found that multi-bit upsets (MBUs) are not uncommon. MBUs are potentially more challenging than SEUs with their ability to break TMR with domain crossing events. This paper presents an analysis of MBU events due to proton and heavy ion radiation.


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