Intel Patents Cosmic Ray Detector, No Really

Soft errors, they sound a little less ominous than hard errors, don't they?  Actually, both are not a lot of fun for the average computer processor or memory chip.  A soft error, relative to semiconductor technology, is corruption inside of the memory structure of a device where bits are flipped inadvertently. Soft errors have become much more of a concern than ever before, as chip technologies shrink smaller and smaller.  And the chip manufacturer with the most skin in the game right now is of course, Intel.  Bleeding-edge 45nm process technology allows for more powerful, complex chip designs but also brings with it, higher risk of soft errors due to, you guessed it, cosmic ray interference.  So what's ol' Chipzilla to do?  Why build a cosmic ray detector of course...

" Their patent suggests built-in cosmic ray detectors may be the best option. The detector would either spot cosmic ray hits on nearby circuits, or directly on the detector itself.  When triggered, it could activate error-checking circuits that refresh the nearby memory, repeat the most recent actions, or ask for the last message from outside circuits to be sent again."

And yes, that's a cosmic ray analyzer in the top corner thumbnail shot.  Intel's full patent, found here and awarded in December 07, is expected to manifest itself in a slightly smaller form factor however.