alpha particle


Particles consisting of two protons and two neutrons bound together that can cause bit rot when they pass through an integrated circuit.

One hypothesis to explain random bit drops in early Intel chips was cosmic rays, so Intel created the World's Largest Lead Safe, using 25 tons of the stuff, and tested one board in the safe and an identical one outside. They saw no difference. Further investigation demonstrated conclusively that the bit drops were due to alpha particle emissions from thorium (and to a much lesser degree uranium) in the encapsulation material. Since it is impossible to eliminate these, it became obvious that one has to design memories to withstand these hits.

[Jargon File]

Last updated: 2023-10-29

Nearby terms:

Alpha Geekalphanumericalpha particleAlphardalpha testing

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