Fault-Tolerant Nanoscale Processors on Semiconductor Nanowire Grids

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Publication Medium:

IEEE Transactions on Circuits and Systems I, Special issue on Nanoelectronic Circuits and Nanoarchitectures

Vol. No.


Issue No.



pp. 2422-2437

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Nanoscale processor designs pose new challenges not encountered in the world of conventional CMOS designs and manufacturing. Nanoscale devices based on crossed semiconductor nanowires (NWs) have promising characteristics in addition to providing great density advantage over conventional CMOS devices. This density advantage could, however, be easily lost when assembled into nanoscale systems and especially after techniques dealing with high defect rates and manufacturing related layout/doping constraints are incorporated. Most conventional defect/fault-tolerance techniques are not suitable in nanoscale designs because they are designed for very small defect rates and assume arbitrary layouts for required circuits. Reconfigurable approaches face fundamental challenges including a complex interface between the micro and nano components required for programming. In this paper, we present our work on adding fault-tolerance to all components of a processor implemented on a 2-D semiconductor nanowire (NW) fabric called NASICs. We combine and explore structural redundancy, built-in nanoscale error correcting circuitry, and system-level redundancy techniques and adapt the techniques to the NASIC fabric. Faulty signals caused by defects and other error sources are masked on-the-fly at various levels of granularity. Faults can be masked at up to 15% rates, while maintaining a 7X density advantage compared to an equivalent CMOS processor at projected 18nm technology. Detailed analysis of yield, density, and area tradeoffs is provided for different error sources and fault distributions.