Sep 2 – 6, 2019
Europe/Zurich timezone

External scrubber implementation for the ALICE ITS Readout Unit

Sep 3, 2019, 11:55 AM
Aula de bioloxía

Aula de bioloxía

Oral Radiation Tolerant Components and Systems Radiation Tolerant Components and Systems


Magnus Rentsch Ersdal (University of Bergen (NO))



Commercial components are used in the readout
electronics of the upgraded ALICE Inner Tracking System detector,
hence a system-level single event upset (SEU) mitigation strategy
for the FPGAs is needed to ensure correct operation. Inclusion of
a flash-based auxiliary FPGA on the Readout Unit enables
fault-tolerant operation, by implementing periodic blind
scrubbing to correct SEUs in the configuration memory of the main
FPGA, an SRAM-based Xilinx FPGA responsible for data transfer and
detector configuration. This contribution discusses the external
scrubber solution on the Readout Unit, focusing on the FPGA
design and software design. Test results are also presented.


The ALICE Inner Tracking System (ITS) is currently being upgraded
to prepare for LHC Run 3, which is scheduled to start in 2021.
The upgraded ITS will consist of 7 layers of ALPIDE ASICs (a high
granularity monolithic active pixel sensor). The ALPIDEs are
organized in 192 staves, consisting of 9 to 196 ALPIDEs depending
on the layer. Each stave is read out by a Readout Unit (RU)
located in racks inside the ALICE magnet at around 6 m from the
interaction point. In the location of the RUs, the high-energy
hadron flux is expected to be about 1 kHz/cm^2
in Run 3. Thus the design of the Readout Unit and of its FPGAs
is required to be radiation tolerant. The main FPGA on the RU is
an SRAM-based Xilinx Kintex Ultrascale FPGA, and single event
upsets (SEUs) will happen in the configuration memory of the
device. Scrubbing of this memory is implemented to correct the
SEUs. Based on earlier irradiation campaigns with a Kintex-7
device, it was decided to use an auxiliary device (auxFPGA) to
scrub the configuration memory. The auxFPGA is a flash-based
Microsemi ProASIC3 A3PE600L FPGA, which is the commercial
counterpart of the radiation tolerant RT ProASIC3 series. The
large flash cells are radiation tolerant by technology, so
mitigation is only needed on specific design elements such as
registers and memory.

In order for the scrubbing to be effective, SEU mitigation
techniques such as Triple Modular Redundancy (TMR) and error
correction coding (ECC) is also applied to the design of the RU
main FPGA. Additionally, the design scrubbing rate is at least
three orders of magnitude higher than the mean expected SEU rate.
Hence, the SEUs will not accumulate, improving the effectiveness
of the TMR.

Configuration and scrubbing of the main FPGA are the main tasks
of the auxFPGA, utilizing the Xilinx selectMap interface. The
scrubbing and configuration files are stored on a Samsung
flash-memory with 1048/1024 bit hamming coding for single bit
error correction and double bit error detection. The combination
of ECC encoded configuration files and local TMR of the auxFPGA
design achieves a high degree of radiation tolerance.

To test the functionality of the auxFPGA, a Python-based suite of
unit-tests is set up and runs on the CRU host computer, which
significantly shortens the testing time during development. The
tests are also a reference for extended integration-tests and
system level operations, as well as final detector control system

The auxFPGA is currently under commissioning and integration
tests are ongoing. All basic functionality works as intended, and
it has been verified that continuous blind scrubbing does not
interfere with the normal operation of the RU and main FPGA in
normal environmental conditions. It will be shown that control,
monitoring and data readout run as normal while scrubbing is
continuously executed.

This contribution will give details of the design, implementation
and testing in the system of the external scrubber, of the
storage and management of the configuration files and of the
fault injection features.

Primary authors

Magnus Rentsch Ersdal (University of Bergen (NO)) Piero Giubilato (Universita e INFN, Padova (IT)) Johan Alme (University of Bergen (NO)) Matthias Bonora (CERN / University of Salzburg (AT)) Matteo Lupi (CERN / Johann-Wolfgang-Goethe Univ. (DE)) Simon Voigt Nesbo (Western Norway University of Applied Sciences (NO)) Dieter Rohrich (Department of Physics & Technology-University of Bergen) Attiq Ur Rehman (University of Bergen (NO)) Gianluca Aglieri Rinella (CERN) Joachim Schambach (University of Texas at Austin (US)) Arild Velure (CERN) Shiming Yuan (University of Bergen (NO))

Presentation materials