The continuing trends of scaling in the CMOS industry have, inevitably, been accompanied by an ever-increasing array of process faults and fabrication complexities. The relentless march towards miniaturization and massive integration, in addition to increasing operating frequencies has resulted in increasing concerns about the reliability of integrated RF front-ends. Coupled with rising cost per chip, the fault-tolerant paradigm has become pertinent in the RFIC domain. Two main reasons have contributed to the fact that fault-tolerant solutions for circuits that operate in the GHz domain have not been realized so far. First, GHz signals are extremely sensitive to higher-order effects such as stray pick-ups, interference, package & on-chip parasitics, etc. Secondly, the use of passives, especially inductors, in the feedback path poses huge area overheads, in addition to a slew of instability problems due to wide variations and soft faults. Hence traditional fault-tolerance methods used in digital and low frequency analog circuits cannot be applied in the RF domain.
This work presents a unique methodology to achieve fault-tolerance in RF circuits through dynamic sensing and on-chip self-correction, along with the development of robust algorithms. This technique is minimally intrusive and is transparent during 'normal' use of the circuit. It is characterized by low area and power overheads, does not need any off-chip computing or DSP cores, and is characterized by self-correction times in the range of a few hundreds of microseconds. It compares very well with existing commercial RF test solutions that use DSP cores and require hundreds of milliseconds. The methodology is demonstrated on a LNA, since it is critical for the performance of the entire front-end. It is validated with simulation and fabrication results of the system designed in IBM 0.25 µm CMOS 6RF process.
Library of Congress Subject Headings
Radio frequency integrated circuits--Design and construction; Fault tolerance (Engineering); Metal oxide semiconductors, Complementary--Design and construction
Microsystems Engineering (Ph.D.)
Department, Program, or Center
Microsystems Engineering (KGCOE)
P. R. Mukund
Das, Tejasvi, "Fault-tolerant design of RF front-end circuits" (2006). Thesis. Rochester Institute of Technology. Accessed from
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