Cypress Publishes Book on Managing Soft Error Rate in SRAM Design

8/20/2004 - Cypress Semiconductor Corp. (NYSE: CY), a world leader in SRAMs, announced the publication of "SER—History, Trends, and Challenges: A Guide for Designing with Memory ICs." This helpful text provides design engineers with expert information on SER (Soft Error Rate), ranging from its causes to its impact on larger electronic systems. It includes an historical perspective on the causes and effects of soft errors and offers methods for measuring SER on various chips. The book also describes process techniques that improve SER immunity, including substrate optimization and techniques to increase node capacitance.

Soft errors are caused by alpha particles, terrestrial cosmic rays and thermal neutrons that spontaneously flip bits of stored data in a memory or logic chip, resulting in system crashes and network failure. At various altitudes and rates, cosmic rays can corrupt data within a chip, leading to overall electronic malfunctions. Awareness of soft errors can play a substantial role in memory chip invention and production.

The SER problem first gained widespread attention as a memory data issue in the late 1970s, when DRAMs began to show signs of random failures. As process technologies have continued to shrink, the critical charge required to cause a soft error has stayed relatively constant while the charge collection area in memory cells has decreased much faster. As a result, more mitigation techniques are required to ensure acceptable soft error rate levels, particularly in large systems, where the use of memory devices is steadily increasing. The first to market with 90nm-scale devices, Cypress has taken the lead in collecting and testing data about this random phenomenon, locating the sources of SER and creating effective solutions to diminish the wide-ranging problem. Solutions proposed in the book include manufacturing process changes, circuit hardening, design redundancies and system-level modifications.

About the Authors
James. F. Ziegler holds bachelors, masters and Ph.D. degrees in physics from Yale University. Mr. Ziegler worked at IBM for more than 30 years before joining the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD, where he currently teaches science to electrical engineers. His 1979 paper suggesting that cosmic rays were a substantial contributor to electronic reliability has become the benchmark in the analysis of system reliability of terrestrial electronics. Dr. Ziegler is a fellow of the IEEE and the American Physical Society. He is the author or editor of 18 scientific books and a myriad of technical articles. He holds 16 U.S. patents.

Helmut Puchner earned his Ph.D. degree in Electrical Engineering from the Technical University of Vienna, Austria. He joined Cypress in 2002 where he now leads a team responsible for transistor development, device reliability, simulation, and compact modeling. His research on SER over the past seven years has resulted in promising soft error mitigation techniques for CMOS technologies. Dr. Puchner is a senior member of the IEEE and has published more than 40 papers and holds 17 U.S. patents.

Distribution and Availability
"SER—History, Trends, and Challenges: A Guide for Designing with Memory ICs" is available today and priced starting at $25 per book. To purchase your copy, visit and click on "Online Store." Other books published by Cypress include "Perfect Timing: A Design Guide for Clock Generation and Distribution" and "The VHDL Programmable Logic Textbook."

About Cypress
Cypress Semiconductor Corp. (NYSE: CY) is Connecting from Last Mile to First MileTM with high-performance solutions for personal, network access, enterprise, metro switch and core communications-system applications. Cypress ConnectsTM using wireless, wireline, digital, and optical transmission standards, including USB, Fibre Channel, SONET/SDH, Gigabit Ethernet and DWDM. Leveraging its process and system-level expertise, Cypress makes industry-leading physical layer devices, framers and network search engines, along with a broad portfolio of high-bandwidth memories, timing technology solutions and reconfigurable mixed-signal arrays. More information about Cypress is accessible online at

Cypress and the Cypress logo are registered trademarks of Cypress Semiconductor Corp. "Connecting From Last Mile to First Mile "and "Cypress Connects" are trademarks of Cypress.

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