News US Government Funds Fabs of Radiation-Resistant Chips Used in Nuclear Weapons, Space

genz

Distinguished
Oct 8, 2012
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They aren't, but the radiation passing through them causes single-bit 'style' errors because it's basically handing electrons to whatever it hits and thus flipping bits from 0 to 1. You can't even build a heavy lead shield around an existing CPU (which for space is dumb anyway 'cause you're paying about $40,000 per kilo to get stuff into orbit)... any spike in radiation that overcomes this will lead will junk your data. Same to all other bits of the machine. Drives have to be Faraday caged but most of the time it's better to just transmit them instantly down to earth.

I know a bit about the DoD microprocessor in satellites. It makes ancient look new, and I think the fastest they ever made was like 150Mhz, but the large process node means that it takes more electrical energy to disrupt them (just as a new 10TB HDD needs a weaker magnet to wipe as the individual 1s and 0s take a lower amount of space on the disk, and are designed to just need less power per bit in the first place).

So you have to make a CPU with the equivalent of RAM ECC on all it's processing units. Then you have to ECC the ECC lol.
 

Mirkoskji

Commendable
Feb 13, 2017
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Ehm.
So They need to upgrade radiation-resistance for processing units in their nuclear arsenal? Are they building nuclear arsenal? Is US planning to dump some new <Mod Edit> in the atmosphere which is clearly not their property? Or are they planning to democratise the world in the next few decades? Or is this just for scientific purposes?
What's the real need? this leaves more questions than answers.
 
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TJ Hooker

Glorious
Ambassador
They aren't, but the radiation passing through them causes single-bit 'style' errors because it's basically handing electrons to whatever it hits and thus flipping bits from 0 to 1.
It looks like radiation can cause permanent damage to ICs, not just data corruption.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radiation_hardening#Radiation_effects_on_electronics

Ehm.
So They need to upgrade radiation-resistance for processing units in their nuclear arsenal? Are they building nuclear arsenal? Is US planning to dump some new <Mod Edit> in the atmosphere which is clearly not their property? Or are they planning to democratise the world in the next few decades? Or is this just for scientific purposes?
What's the real need? this leaves more questions than answers.
They have an existing nuclear arsenal. I would assume that arsenal requires maintenance, including part replacement. It's becoming difficult to source the tools required to make those antiquated parts, so they're investing in new tools to make new parts. That's my take on it based on what's stated in the article.
 
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