Strategic Sectors in FY 2007
Development of fundamental technologies for the large-scale integrated-circuit system that can guarantee high reliability and high security
Advanced miniaturization/low power technologies and design/manufacturing technologies for next-generation semiconductor that competes with the global competition
Large-scale integrated-circuit system is today a fundamental building block for information communication, computer, automobile, medical instrument, and other systems, and has become a basis of the social life. Electronic products have currently so closely knit into our life so that we depend on them without being conscious of their presence. Such being the nature of invisible pervasiveness of electronics, however, a problem somewhere in a large-scale integrated-circuit system may cause a serious social damage once it happens whether by accident or by intention.
Ever since a transistor was invented, the development of integrated-circuit system has been aimed at miniaturization, large-scale integration, and higher functionality. However, with progress in miniaturization, problems never experienced before have been brought about. They include the increase in statistical variation of device characteristics, which is an intrinsic limitation of the semiconductor. The circuit operation error caused by cosmic rays is another example. Human errors in the integrated-circuit design, manufacturing and testing are the source of another family of problems. Human aggression can be a threat to the information security. Errors could be introduced when combining more than one chips that worked properly alone are connected each other into a system. Production problems can multiply by increased number of process steps. To conclude, our country's competitiveness in the international market of electronics equipment could be lost, and our social infrastructure itself could become vulnerable, unless reliability/security of very large scale integrated system is maintained, or rather, improved.
In Europe, "SecureIST (Information Society Technology)" project is being promoted, especially on the research for pursuing the high reliability/high security in information and communication fields, in preparation for the "7th Framework Program for Research (FP7: 2007-2013)" established by the European Commission.
In addition, the first EU-US Summit Series: Workshop on System & Security was held November, 2006, in Dublin, jointly sponsored by NSF (National Science Foundation) and EU, and discussion on reliability and security of information system is proceeding at the initiative of Europe and the United States. Although Japan has taken a position as one of the most-advanced IT countries as national policy, Japan may be left behind if our country does not participate in this discussion aggressively.
3) Needs from specialists and industries
Recently, a guarantee for reliability/security has been regarded as more important than pursuing higher performance in developing information systems, and it is getting widely considered that a level of guarantee for reliability/security primarily decides the value of the information system. A lot of projects related to a guarantee reliability/security of information systems are adopted in Europe and the United States, and reliability/security draws more and more attention. However, physical errors are addressed mainly and human errors are only partially addressed in general because it is difficult to take an approach of coping with human errors and their interaction. In these circumstances, universities/research institutions in our country begin to recognize to the need to address human errors and their interactions. Then, it becomes possible to establish fundamental technology to guarantee reliability/security for large scale integrated system earlier than Europe and the United States by suggesting and taking the multidisciplinary approach in which researches of physical errors and those of human errors are organically combined.
Furthermore, as a result, innovations in large-scale integrated-circuit system will be produced under the initiatives by our country, and thereby, reinforcement of international competitiveness required by the semiconductor industry that is basis of all industries will be supported(*1). Additionally, it is expected that it prevents enormous economic losses from happening and brings an increase in added value practically.
1) An image of the innovative achievement that can be realized in the future.
By establishing fundamental technology to guarantee reliability/security of large integrated system, the problems such as physical errors and human errors will be overcome, and reliability/security of various systems will be enhanced. Thus, we can expect a spreading effect (innovation) to variety of industries and our life by realizing comfortable IT society with low cost in which lives of people get more convenient with highly digitized financial dealings or public services for example.
2) Social and economical imperatives
Although Japanese semiconductor industries maintain top-level technology in the world, they are not necessarily competitive enough in the global market. By developing a next-generation large-scale integrated-circuit system technology to guarantee higher reliability/security no later than in other countries and gaining extra values from it, we will be able to achieve enhanced global competitiveness required from the semiconductor industry as a result of the.
Although performance, packaging technology, and power-saving are required in developing large-scale integrated-circuit systems, we will introduce new concept "dependability (*2)" in this Strategic Sector, and take a multidisciplinary approach considering life cycle (planning, design, manufacturing, testing, distribution, operation, discard) of large scale integrated circuit. Specifically, we aim at overcoming obstacles for dependability brought by physical errors, human errors, human aggression and interaction between systems in large-scale integrated-circuit systems.For example, the targets of research are as follows:
1) Solution for physical errors
As micronization of a large-scale integrated-circuit system progresses, the characteristics of transistors and components get essentially more diverse due to extremely increased effects of process parameter change and fluctuations in the supply voltage, resulting in degraded reliability. Soft errors such as memory bit inversion and logic malfunction, which is caused by neutron rays generated by reaction of cosmic rays with the atmosphere, may occur frequently, resulting in reliability degradation of systems. Because it is difficult to overcome such circumstances only with conventional circuit design and process technology assuming those circuits and systems run without any those errors, novel transistor structure and architecture aimed at introducing self-recovery and self-adjusting functions are needed.
2) Solution for human errors
Increase in the scale of integration and complexity of system complicates circuit design. If we continue to use current design techniques, design processes will take longer time, result in more human errors, and more overlooked errors in test. Because such defective large-scale integrated circuits could cause serious systems problems, research efforts have to be made for a new design tool which is capable of detecting and correcting human errors.
3) Solution for human aggression
A threat to the dependability by intentional attack such as an extraction of confidential information and personal information that is incorporated into large-scale integrated-circuit system is increasing. In the future, the use of electronic money and electronic medical records are considered to increase, and information of bank account and privacy-related information that are stored in a large-scale integrated-circuit system without any prevention against attacks may leak out, resulting in serious social confusion. As countermeasures for these problems, researches such as building a defense system of information on a chip and erasing information automatically after pre-set amount of time are needed.
4) Solution for interactions
There are various failures and bugs, including physical errors and human errors, in a large-scale integrated-circuit system and they cause abnormal operation or a fatal trouble due to complex interactions among them. Even if failures do not lead to a fatal trouble as long as they are independent and countermeasures against them are taken, these failures often lead to troubles due to complex interactions among multiple failures, bugs and human aggressions. As technologies for preventing these failures caused by such interactions, it is necessary to establish technologies such as detecting information that seems to lead to failure by arranging temperature sensors and voltage sensors in a chip and disconnecting or suspending a module that seems to lead to failure.
To build a system in which reliability/security are guaranteed, it is necessary to build technique for open-system that can adapt to environmental changes rather than for closed-system that can be used only in a strictly defined environment. It is said that a waterfall model, such as Basic plan → Design → Build-up → Use, is suitable for developing a large-scale system, however, the model cannot adapt flexibly to a condition in which the system is operated because the condition is initially fixed. Therefore, it should be considered that effective researches are carried out, including adoption of the spiral model that enhances integrity of reliability/security by repeating "Design → Build-up → Use → Evaluation → Redesign" organically.
(*1) According to the report of WSTS (World Semiconductor Trade Statistics), the share of East Asia other than Japan in the global semiconductor market has increased from 25.1% to 45.4%, while Japanese share has decreased from 22.9% to 19.4% between 2000 and 2005, indicating progress of semiconductor industry in East Asia and decrease of Japan's competitiveness.
(*2) The situation under which the quality of products is reliable and users can depend on them feeling secure and safe.