Space radiation influence on chips

Just recently I watched a video on Youtube from Veritasium: “The Universe is Hostile to Computers” concerning influences from space which could change chip behavior.
How much could this be the case in the Trezor chip or other ways we use the computer with a Trezor and software?
Thank you.

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Hey crienoloog,

thanks for such interesting question.

ECC (Error Correction Code) on memories is generally the minimal thing you can do, obviously chip design should support that. It is probability thing and memories are dominating chip space.

In short, it happens, but it’s extremely rare. Trezor (neither model) has ECC memory currently, but you’d have to be extremely unlucky to sign a wrong transaction since you would need the exact bitflip at least twice if not more times (this is applicable to Bitcoin, not necessarily for other coins). Though one bitflip might result in random memory corruption (the “turn it on and off” thing).

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Hey thanks Kolin for your answer.

I’m not technical versed - like a chip engineer or anything. I am more an IT Process manager.
I guess I could have extended my question in what capacity I am using. or not using the Trezor at the moment of the CME.

  • But what I do understand from your answer is that worse case scenario when the Trezor is not doing a transaction, is that the chip gets fried and I should buy a new Trezor and reinstall the old wallet which is not really a problem.
  • In case I am doing a transaction, I might get an erroneous transaction where the blockchain will reject it in which case again I just have to buy a new Trezor and reinstall the old wallet, and the transaction never happened, correct assumption?.
  • Or the blockchain might just accept the transaction, my Trezor will get fried and might give me an error, and stops working - again I have to buy a new Trezor and reinstall the old wallet, and the new Trezor will show that my transaction did occur fine. Also correct assumption?

Or is there another option where I might loose my coins in an erroneous transaction?

So basically, the Trezor is just a heck of a great little piece of equipment and we shouldn’t worry.

Again, thanks.

The amount of cosmic rays hitting Earth’s surface generally do not permanently damage electronics. What can happen is an intermittent error. In the vast majority of cases, you would see this as Trezor crashing or getting stuck. A simple disconnect and reconnect will resolve that.

In an extremely unlikely case, it could cause something like a wrong amount or address displayed on screen.

In case of wrong receiving address, such address would not be valid – and you could also spot the problem by comparing the address on your PC to the address on Trezor screen.

In case of wrong amount, it is basically impossible for this to propagate, i.e., if a wrong amount is displayed, it is nearly certain that at the same time, Trezor is producing an invalid transaction that will be rejected by the blockchain.

Both of those problems are likely to resolve themselves on next try, or you can disconnect and reconnect.

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Thank you Matejcik,
In my ignorance about chip functionality, I guess I must over thought the problem.
However the video from Veritasium was speaking about a very strong CME in combination with the earths’ current low magnetic protection shield.
What you are saying, is that the Trezor very likely not even have a fried problem at all.
Your explanation from a nontechnical and more process view point is clear to me.
Again thank you.