FPGAs are frequently used in network systems to provide the performance and flexibility that is required of modern computer networks while allowing network vendors to bring products to market quickly. Like all electronic devices, FPGAs are vulnerable to ionizing radiation which can cause applications operating on an FPGA to fail. These low-level failures can have a wide range of negative effects on the performance of a network system. As computer networks play a larger role in modern society, it becomes increasingly important that these soft errors are addressed in the design of network systems.This work presents a framework for testing the soft-error reliability of FPGA-based networking systems. The framework consists of the NetFPGA development board, a custom traffic generator, and a custom high-speed JTAG configuration device. The NetFPGA development board is versatile and can be used to implement a wide range of network applications. The traffic generator is used to exercise the network system on the NetFPGA and to determine the health of that system. The JTAG configuration device is used to manage reliability experiments, to perform fault injection into the FPGA, and to monitor the NetFPGA during radiation tests.This thesis includes soft-error reliability tests that were performed on an Ethernet switch network system. Using both fault injection and accelerate radiation testing, the soft error sensitivity of the Ethernet switch was measured. The Ethernet switch design was then mitigated using triple module redundancy and duplication with compare. These mitigated designs were also tested and compared against the baseline design. Radiation testing shows that TMR provides a 5.05x improvement in reliability over the baseline design. DWC provides a 5.22x improvement in detectability over the baseline design without reducing the reliability of the system.



College and Department

Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology; Electrical and Computer Engineering



Date Submitted


Document Type



FPGA, computer networking, soft-error reliability, single-event upset, traffic generator, triple modular redundancy, duplication with compare, neutron radiation testing, fault injection, NetFPGA, Ethernet switch



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Engineering Commons