Reliability Time-Bombs in Electronics & Photonics Systems
Author: Nihal Sinnadurai Company: ATTAC Date Published: 2/11/2014
Pan Pacific Symposium
Abstract: Electronics and Photonics Networks must be designed and produced to deliver the reliability required for the intended applications. Hardware and software products 'Qualified' to inadequate levels of assurance can be time bombs when installed in networks. Such inadequacies arise through incompetent assurance or verification, desk based 'qualification', and executive pressure. Commercial 'survival' pressures have resulted in expedient release of products which contribute to failures in the field. The vulnerability of such networks can be mitigated by designing-in fault-tolerance. While fault-tolerant networks incorporate primary and secondary recovery capabilities, such recovery must ensure there are no common-mode hardware or software faults that compromise the recovery systems themselves, which can also arise where reliability assurance has been inadequate. There are practical solutions for achieving reliability of the original products, namely, to follow the streamlined Building Blocks approach, with overstress designed to be fit-for-purpose for the level of assembly and sampling to provide statistical credibility. Skills in both hardware reliability and software verification methodology do exist to provide adequate reliability assurance to safeguard modern networks. Ensuring that communications networks meet the desired lifetimes requires either that product reliability is built-in and proven or that the networks are built to be resilient, requiring investment. Who pays? In a market economy, the end-users must decide whether they want a reliable high Quality of Service and be willing to pay the price. If we keep going for the cheapest, we may get the worst.