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Reconfiguration Based

Fault-Tolerant Systems
Design - Survey of
Jan Balach, Ondej Novk
FIT, CTU in Prague
Reconfiguration based Fault-Tolerant designs
Improved testing
FT structures based on partial reconfiguration
High-performance FT design
Tranzistor & gate level reconfiguration
Flash-based FPGAs
Reconfigurable Electronics for Space

FPGA is the most used platform for

developing new designs and systems

FPGA dependability and reliability are most

discussed issues
FPGA is sensitive to natural radiation effects, the
most discussed ones are so called Single Event
SEU can impact FPGA in different ways:
Change of conguration memory
Generated pulse on interconnection
Causing Latch-up
Affecting non-programed part of FPGA
Affecting clock domain distribution
Different situation requires specific solution
Reconfiguration based Fault-Tolerant

Fault-Tolerant desing = redundancy

Redundancy serves only for a given time
We have to use reconfiguration to keep
FPGAs FT parameters
There are different ways how we can use
reconfiguration to achieve FT design
Improved testing I.
Testingis important part of dependable
design flow

Testing allows us to:

Prove design right functionality
Localize Faults
Prevent latent Faults
Improved testing II.
based on

ImprovedTest Access

Canobtain high
overhead caused by
bus macros

Picture from: Rozkovec, M., Novak, O., Structural test of programmed FPGA circuits"
FT structures based on partial
reconfiguration I.
allows various options how
to implement FT design

Basicidea is to divide design in smaller

parts which can be reconfigured/replaced

Smallerthe parts bigger the overhead is, we

need to find trade-off
FT structures based on partial
reconfiguration - app. A*
Each application divided into many small so called
partial reconfigurable modules

Reconfiguration supervised by partial

reconfigurable controller

Good fault localization, fault impacts smaller area

of design, can obtain high HW overhead (bus
macros), synchronization issues after

*) Straka M., Kastil J., Kotasek Z., Fault Tolerant Structure for SRAM-based FPGA via Partial Dynamic Reconguration"
FT structures based on partial
reconfiguration - App. B*

*) Borecky J., Kohlik M., Kubatova H., Kubalik P., Fault Coverage Improvement based on Fault Simulation and Partial Duplication"
FT structures based on partial
reconfiguration - App. B

Fault impacts relatively big part of design

Obtained HW overhead is smaller

Synchronization after reconfiguration has to

be solved
FT structures based on partial
reconfiguration - App. C*
Self-Repair Dual FPGA architecture used
Design divided into columns, spares columns allow
Self-Repair ability
Soft microcontroller evaluates flags from second
FPGA, in case of error, faulty FPGA is reconfigured
by another one
Obtaining good trade-off between overhead and
fault localization
Using same bit stream in both FPGA can be risky

*) S. Mitra, W.-J. Huang, N. R. Saxena, S.-Y. Yu, E.J. McCluskey, Recongurable Architecture for Autonomous Self Repair"
High-performance FT system*
SEU dosage varies with place on the orbit =
we can use reconfiguration to switch modes
When lower density of SEU we can switch to
High-performance or power-safe mode
Using High-Performance mode speeds-up
computation by 2.3x compared to use of
standard TMR

*) Jacobs, A., George, A.D., Cieslewski, G.,Recongurable fault tolerance: A frame-work for environmentally adaptive
fault mitigation in space
Transistor and gate
level reconfiguration*

Reconfiguration is
performed on
transistor/gate level

Redundant N/P
diffusions can tolerate VDD VDD

faults in silicon
in1 out in1 out
in2 in2


a) b)

*) H. T. Vierhaus, "Transistor and Gate Level Self Repair for Logic Circuits"
Transistor and gate level
Replacing whole faulty

Obtained HW overhead
is between 30-120%

Requires supervising in

Taken from: H. T. Vierhaus, "Transistor and Gate Level Self Repair for Logic Circuits"
Flash-based FPGA

Configuration stored in Flash memory

Alternative platform to develop FT design
Intrinsically SEU hard configuration memory
Slower then SRAM-based FPGAs
Higher voltage required to perform
Reconfigurable Electronics for
NASA Rovers on MARS
On board Xilinx FPGA
performed by ASIC
Analog/Digital SRAAs
FPGA implements
digital interface
between PC and Proto

*) Didier Keymeulen, "Self-Repairing and Tuning Recongurable Electronics for Space"

Conclusion I.
Reconfiguration allows us to created FT
design in FPGA

Reconfiguration based systems fight high

area overhead

Synchronization issues is mostly overlooked,

but it has to be solved
Conclusion II.
FPGA reconfiguration for space applications
is due to harsh environment unreliable

Mostapproaches dont take into account

industrial requirements

Areaslike aerospace or railway can benefit

from reconfiguration
Thank you for
your attention