Electrical Fuse Lets Chips Heal Themselves

IBM engineers turn a fault into a feature

4 min read

The electronic system of the future will monitor itself, change the functions it performs, and repair its damaged circuits--all without external intervention. Such is the dream of autonomic computing. Although the dream is not yet reality, engineers and scientists at IBM Corp. have taken a big step with the development of an on-chip fuse that is electrically blown--or programmed, as the company prefers to call the process--by using a physical effect heretofore considered a serious reliability problem in semiconductor circuits.

According to IBM, combining the new eFuse technology with already available on-chip built-in self-test and -repair circuitry will yield a chip capable of diagnosing its failures and then fixing them by blowing fuses to reroute its circuits. The built-in self-test circuitry determines which parts of the chip do not work and sends the information to the self-repair circuitry, which figures out what fuses to open to replace the failing circuits with spare, redundant ones.

Keep Reading ↓Show less

This article is for IEEE members only. Join IEEE to access our full archive.

Join the world’s largest professional organization devoted to engineering and applied sciences and get access to all of Spectrum’s articles, podcasts, and special reports. Learn more →

If you're already an IEEE member, please sign in to continue reading.

Membership includes:

  • Get unlimited access to IEEE Spectrum content
  • Follow your favorite topics to create a personalized feed of IEEE Spectrum content
  • Save Spectrum articles to read later
  • Network with other technology professionals
  • Establish a professional profile
  • Create a group to share and collaborate on projects
  • Discover IEEE events and activities
  • Join and participate in discussions

The Transistor of 2047: Expert Predictions

What will the device be like on its 100th anniversary?

4 min read
Six men and a woman smiling.

The luminaries who dared predict the future of the transistor for IEEE Spectrum include: [clockwise from left] Gabriel Loh, Sri Samavedam, Sayeef Salahuddin, Richard Schultz, Suman Datta, Tsu-Jae King Liu, and H.-S. Philip Wong.

Gluekit
LightGreen

The 100th anniversary of the invention of the transistor will happen in 2047. What will transistors be like then? Will they even be the critical computing element they are today? IEEE Spectrum asked experts from around the world for their predictions.

Keep Reading ↓Show less