Scientists discover new way to prevent spacecraft errors

phys.org | 11/16/2018 | Staff
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Scientists from the National Research Nuclear University MEPhI (Russia) and the Scientific Research Institute of System Analysis of the Russian Academy of Sciences have recently developed components for designing fault-tolerant asynchronous circuits, which can be used in space vehicles.

Microcircuits that are traditionally used in cars and computers are poorly suited to space vehicles due to low reliability when subject to space radiation. In space, high-energy ions cause device errors and failures. Thus, in developing ASICs (Application-Specific Integrated Circuits) for spacecraft, scientists need to create special methods for improving fault-tolerance (to put it simply, reliability).

Thing - Circuits - Complexity - Number - Elements

"The thing about synchronous circuits is that their complexity, just like the number of elements on the circuit chip, is constantly increasing," said Maxim Gorbunov, assistant professor at MEPhI. "Sections of these circuits, which are located at a large distance, must be synchronized according to their clock rates (a CPU's clock cycles per second). Which means, if the signals produced by the clock generator do not come within the exact time intervals, the circuit simply stops working."

This is a complex engineering issue that includes the deterioration of microchip characteristics, Gorbunov said. That is why asynchronous circuits, which do not require clock rate synchronization, are considered to be so promising today.

Circuits - Occurs - Parallel - Delay - Circuits

"In asynchronous circuits switching occurs in parallel and without a delay; this makes these circuits more efficient and more energy intensive than their synchronous counterparts," Gorbunov explained. "The data reaches the processing unit as fast as the processor's data path allows, and is processed whenever the respective microcircuit chips are ready."

When it comes to the methodology...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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