Understanding Single Event Effects (SEEs) in FPGAs

With the increasing popularity of programmable logic, FPGAs are finding their way into many applications that were once the territory of ASICs and ASSPs. At the same time, process nodes are shrinking and logic density is increasing, meaning that more of the system can be implemented in a single device. As programmable logic finds its way into avionics, communications and medical applications, designers face demands for increased reliability and safety over many of the traditional markets for FPGAs. 

In these high-reliability markets, there has long been concern over the effect of ionizing radiation on memory circuits; however, its impact on programmable logic is not widely understood by the engineering community—nor is it broadly known that not all FPGA technologies share the same risks. With the focus on reliability and safety in these markets, designers must quantify these risks and understand how differing FPGA technologies react in this environment.

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