FPGA-based Neutron Radiation Tolerant Microcontroller

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The paper presents a FPGA-based neutron radiation detector using radiation sensitive SRAM as a detector. Its main component is a PIC16C57-compatible microcontroller, described in VHDL. The system has been designed using hardware redundancy, Hamming error correction codes and memory scrubbing techniques. It is equipped with an UART, controlling the fiber-optics link or electrical link in EIA-485 or RS-232 standard. In addition, a fast CRC32 co-processor has been implemented in FPGA fabric to calculate the 32-bit Cyclic Redundancy Check (CRC32) code and secure each block of data send via UART interface. To enable observability of SEUs in the MCU a supplementary monitor was also embedded.
Conventional synthesis tools offered by ACTEL were applied to design the neutron radiation tolerant microcontroller. However additional steps must be added to implement redundancy and other techniques. The comparison of the classical and SEU tolerant designing process is depicted in Figure 1 (detailed description of design methodology will be described in the final paper). The presented method can be applied to any FPGA device. Moreover, one can apply the design process to create ASIC structure using VHDL and produce radiation tolerant integrated circuit.
Hamming codes secure the following modules of the microcontroller: Program Memory, Register File, Stack, UART transmitter and receiver FIFOs

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Journal: TechConnect Briefs
Volume: 3, Technical Proceedings of the 2006 NSTI Nanotechnology Conference and Trade Show, Volume 3
Published: May 7, 2006
Pages: 90 - 93
Industry sectors: Advanced Materials & Manufacturing | Sensors, MEMS, Electronics
Topics: Nanoelectronics, Photonic Materials & Devices
ISBN: 0-9767985-8-1