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Ten ways your synchronizer MTBF may be wrong

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    Jerry Cox
    Estimating the MTBF of an SoC should always include an analysis of synchronizer reliability. Contemporary process nodes are introducing new challenges to the reliability of clock domain crossings so it is prudent to revisit how your simulation tool calculates a synchronizer’s MTBF. Let’s list the ten most common pitfalls.

    Shorting-nodes Method. Many in-house tools for estimating synchronizer MTBF use simulation to observe the time to settle to a valid voltage for two of the synchronizer’s nodes after they have been released from being shorted together. This method is problematic because in metastability the two nodes are unlikely to be at the same voltage. As a result the value of the time-constant obtained from the shorted-nodes experiment gives a poor estimate of Tau, the time-constant needed to estimate MTBF.

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