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Interdependent Challenges of Reliability, Security and Quality in Nanoelectronic Systems Design

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - RESCUE (Interdependent Challenges of Reliability, Security and Quality in Nanoelectronic Systems Design)

Reporting period: 2019-04-01 to 2021-03-31

RESCUE ITN advances scientific competencies and establishes innovative training for Interdependent Challenges of Reliability, Security and Quality in Nanoelectronic Systems Design.
Today, nanoelectronic systems are at the core of all industry sectors and deployed in life-critical application domains, such as healthcare, transportation, automotive and security, serving societal needs in Europe. They are being combined into Internet-of-Things and Cyber-Physical Systems and, ultimately, represent the physical backbone of our increasingly digitised world. Here, the impact and consequences of in-field failures, security attacks or hardware defects can be catastrophic. At the same time, they are getting very hard to avoid due to the trends of extreme complexity and miniaturisation at the doorstep of physical limits.
The objective is, first, to address the demanding and mutually dependent aspects of nanoelectronic systems design, i.e. reliability, security and quality, as well as corresponding electronic design automation tools. This will rescue and enhance design of complex systems at the next generation nanoelectronics technologies. Second, it is to provide early-stage researchers with innovative cross-sectoral training in the involved disciplines and beyond, such that they will be not only able to face today and future challenges in nanoelectronics design but also be innovative, creative, and more importantly - have an entrepreneurial mentality. The latter helps to compile ideas into products and services for EU economic and social benefits.
RESCUE successfully addressed boosting Europe’s capabilities and leadership in nanoelectronics design and creating qualified workforce and knowledge for the industry. The consortium consisting of leading European research groups was excellently balanced in terms of academic and industrial training and research facilities. The ITN was efficient in tackling the interdependent challenges in a holistic manner and training 15 new excellent interdisciplinary professionals.
The work was implemented according to the plan. First, the management and communication infrastructures, as well as the merit-based and transparent recruitment strategy, were established. All 15 early-stage researchers were recruited and started with their cross-sectoral interdisciplinary training through research activities. The project organised three internal multiday winter workshops for technical and soft skills training and two open international summer schools as well as the technically supported organisation of other doctoral-level EU training events in the domain for a wider audience. The training of the fellows was supported by ITN’s focused intensive courses for softs skills, such as research organisation (H2020/HEU project proposal preparation) and leadership training. The fellows benefited from numerous mostly cross-sectoral secondments, and research collaboration organised virtually. This resulted in more than 90 excellent research publications produced by ESRs for their individual research projects. The research and training results were actively disseminated and communicated by ESRs at conferences and events targeted at industrial stakeholders as well as two dedicated RESCUE dissemination workshops, i.e. in 2017 and 2021. ESRs have also demonstrated creativity in targeting awareness of the general public by video, audio and text-based instruments. All 10 milestones were achieved, and 29 deliverables (60 including the intermediate versions) were produced according to the pre-defined timeline. Additionally, as an initiative of the involved SMEs, a comprehensive report on the RESCUE EDA Framework was prepared supporting one of the milestones.
RESCUE aimed at and achieved progress beyond the state of the art in the following directions.
First, for the reliability, RESCUE fellows contributed to understanding failures and wear-out mechanisms, quantifying the impact, developing appropriate and accurate models to confidently predict the reliability. This resulted in efficient offline and online mitigation schemes, fault-tolerant designs, and tools that enabled reliability prediction and analysis at the design stage. Altogether, it will enhance the lifetime of today’s chips while keeping the failure rate low. An invention of an electronic circuit with integrated soft error monitors was protected by a European patent application with a RESCUE fellow and their supervisor being the first inventors.
Second, for the quality, RESCUE developed novel functional fault models and on-line test methods for nanoelectronic systems. In particular, ESRs focused on concurrent online test solutions, which can also cover temporary defects caused by the environment and permanent defects caused by wear-out of the nanoelectronic system. RESCUE developed novel error management schemes at the system level, which allowed setting seamless trade-offs between the targets of reliability and performance. As a result, the longevity of nanoelectronic systems is improved. Combined functional and extra-functional verification flows for identifying vulnerability to side-channel attacks (a security issue) in functionally correct designs were developed, including the analysis of the interdependency of quality, security and reliability in hardware neural networks.
Third, for security, ITN fellows aimed at researching and implementing new technologies for testing secure HW and addressed HW intrinsic security. The research handled nanoelectronic systems protection against data, design and functionality attacks while considering system’s reliability. In particular, the fellows built a complete static random access memory (SRAM) cell model for Physical Unclonable Functions (PUFs) analysis. The fellows performed the PUF reliability analysis for the latest manufacturing technology nodes down to 7nm that increased the community awareness of the PUF technology applicability. ITN fellows contributed to the study of practical optical fault injection attacks against state-of-the-art chips and identified important patterns and sensitive areas that should be considered by the research community. Furthermore, application of artificial intelligence and machine learning for fault injection attacks and countermeasures resulted in an innovative forward-looking solution of enabling detection of yet unknown fault attacks.
Fourth, for EDA tools and methodologies, ITN fellows aimed at validation and assessment of the proposed above techniques for reliability, quality and security. Their contributions included efficient fault-injection techniques, which reduce the time for the analysis of fault injection simulations by excluding irrelevant faults. The fault injection at mixed representation levels like Virtual Prototypes, register-transfer or gate-level netlists allow verification of the projects in different execution stages. The fellows have developed the first open-source benchmark family, i.e. AutoSoC ( for uniform evaluation of functional safety and security techniques for automotive nanoelectronics in Europe and worldwide. The combination of different novel approaches allowed achieving a higher confidence level in industry-scale functional safety EDA tools. Furthermore, an open-source EDA framework zamiaCAD for validating cutting-edge research approaches was developed and applied to reliability and quality techniques validation and enhancement.
RESCUE four-pillar training programme
RESCUE holistic approach to reliability, security and quality challenges