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No Room for Error: Creating Highly Reliable, High-Availability FPGA Designs

It comes as no surprise that the designers of FPGAs for military and aerospace applications are interested in increasing the reliability and availability of their designs. This is, of course, particularly true in the case of mission-critical and safety-critical electronic systems.

But the need for high-reliability and high-availability electronic systems has expanded beyond traditional military and aerospace applications. Today, this growing list includes communications infrastructure systems, medical intensive care and life-support systems (such as heart-lung machines, mechanical ventilation machines, infusion pumps, radiation therapy machines, robotic surgery machines), nuclear reactor and other power station control systems, transportation signaling and control systems, amusement ride control systems, and the list goes on.

How can designers maintain high standards and ensure success for these types of demanding designs? The answers are here. In this paper we will review the definitions of key concepts: mission critical, safety critical, high reliability and high availability. We will then consider the various elements associated with the creation of high-reliability and high-availability FPGA designs.

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