Date: 10/03/2017

NB-FPGA withstands tough radioactive terrestrial environment and space radiation

A new higher radiation-resistant, reliability enhanced NanoBridge (NB) FPGAs developed using Nano Bridge metal atom migration-type switch technology by utilising Japanese innovation Hub called TIA operated by five institutes in Tsukuba and Tokyo. The advantage of these FPGAs is they can withstand higher radiation in space compared to SRAM bsed FPGAs.

NB FPGAs are developed jointly by NEC Corporation and National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) from Japan. The Nano Bridge technology claimed by innovators to offer 10x improvement over the conventional FPGAs in terms of power efficiency along with providing higher radiation withstanding.

NEC has tested these devices jointly with Japan Aerospace exploration agency (JAXA) and reported successful withstanding, where the results have confirmed that the on and off states of the Nano Bridge remained unchanged after the radiation.

"Based on the result, NEC expects that the NanoBridge will be able to reduce the frequency of errors caused by radiation to one percent or less and contribute to the creation of an LSI that offers high radiation tolerance and ultra-low power consumption simultaneously," said Yuichi Nakamura, General Manager, System Platform Research Laboratories, NEC Corporation.

This VLSI semiconductor technology achievement was developed jointly by NEC and AIST further on the success of NEDO's "Low-power Electronics Association & Project (LEAP)," and is one of the TIA's open innovation achievements.

The concept of NanoBridge: NanoBridge uses the cross-link of metal atoms in a solid electrolyte to record on and off state and the state is maintained after the removal of voltage. The cross-link of metal atoms are not impacted by electrical charges generated by radiation.

The commercial implementation of this technology scheduled to be launched in the year 2018. NEC said it will start developing NB FPGA for satellite application by using the present demonstration program results.

Further technology inputs shared by NEC on this FPGA technology includes:

Compatibility and usability have been improved by applying 4-input LUT used in conventional FPGAs to the circuit system. Eight thousand LUTs are mounted on a 64x64 cell array chip. (In a demonstration experiment in space, 37,000 LUTs will be mounted on the NB-FPGA to compress images.)

The reliability of the switch that is in the OFF state has been improved by applying a three-terminal structure to the NanoBridge switch. One NB-FPGA contains up to 51 million switches, which are used for changing signals and as the memory of LUTs.

Picture above: Operation mechanism of NanoBridge (left), NB-FPGA chip (right)