I recently returned from my first-ever trip to Japan. While I was enthralled by its beauty and history, entertained by both traditional and avant-garde theatre, and enticed by new food opportunities, it was five minutes of television that caught my attention one day. Although I didn’t understand a word of the report, the problem was obvious—all over the region, vending machines were spontaneously bursting into flames.
Vending machines seem to be everywhere in Japan. Not only are rows of them lined up where you expect them to be, in subway and train stations, close to shopping areas, and near tourist attractions, but individual machines also show up in suburban neighborhoods, tucked up next to houses and schools and small businesses. Not knowing when or why one of these machines might erupt in smoke and flames is understandably unnerving.
The report didn’t seem to identify a cause for these events, so of course, it could be faulty wiring, poor construction, or, just maybe, a bad IC chip. It’s not a stretch to assume a chip failure might be behind these spontaneous combustions.
So, how can you avoid becoming the lead story on the morning news? Reliability is a major challenge for today’s complex circuitry, and designers use a myriad of techniques to try and ensure design layouts will not only perform as intended, but will continue to perform as intended throughout their planned lifetime. Mentor provides designers with a variety of tools and strategies that can help identify and remove or modify design constructions that may cause or contribute to reliability failures. Here are just a few references to help you learn more:
- Robust Reliability Verification: Beyond Traditional Verification Tools
- Full Reliability Automation is Here!
- Is the definition of IC reliability changing?
- Improving Design Reliability by Avoiding Electrical Overstress
- Improve Reliability with Accurate Voltage-Aware DRC
- Using Calibre PERC: Illustrated (video)
- Tessent Hybrid TK/LBIST Test for Safety-Critical Applications
Whether you’re a layout designer or a test engineer, reliability design and analysis is a crucial element of product (and by extension, market) success. With automation being incorporated into a wider variety of products than ever before, ensuring your chips will function properly, safely, and consistently is vital if you don’t want to see your reputation (and profits) going up in smoke.