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R. Kumar, V. Karkala, R. Garg, T. Jindal, and S. Khatri, "A Radiation Tolerant Phase Locked Loop Design for Digital Electronics," Paper presented at the IEEE International Conference on Computer Design, Lake Tahoe, California, October 4-7, 2009.


With decreasing feature sizes, lowered supply voltages and increasing operating frequencies, the radiation tolerance ofdigital circuits is becoming an increasingly important problem. Many radiation hardening techniques have been presented in the literature for combinational as well as sequential logic. However, the radiation tolerance of clock generation circuitry has received scant attention to date. Recently, it has been shown that in the deep submicron regime, the clock network contributes significantly to the chip level Soft Error Rate (SER). The on-chip Phase Locked Loop (PLL) is particularly vulnerable to radiationstrikes. In this thesis, we present a radiation hardened PLL design. Each of the components of this design-the voltage controlled oscillator (VCO), the phase frequency detector (PFD) and the charge pump/loop filter-are designed in a radiation tolerantmanner. Whenever possible, the circuit elements used in our PLL exploit the fact that if a gate is implemented using only PMOS (NMOS) transistors then a radiation particle strike can result only in a logic 0 to 1 (1 to 0) flip. By separating the PMOS and NMOS devices, and splitting the gate output into two signals, extreme high levels of radiation tolerance are obtained. Our design uses two VCOs (with cross-coupled inverters) and charge pumps, so that a strike on any one is compensated by the other. Our PLL is tested for radiation immunity for critical charge values up to 250fC. Our SPICE-based results demonstrate that after exhaustively striking all circuit nodes, the worst case jitter of our hardened PLL is just 37.4 percent. In the worst case, our PLL returns to thelocked state in 2 cycles of the VCO clock, after a radiation strike. These numbers are significant improvements over those of the best previously reported approaches.


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