A Flexible Software-Based Framework for Online Detection of Hardware Defects

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Executive Summary

This work proposes a new, software-based, defect detection and diagnosis technique. The authors introduce a novel set of instructions, called Access-Control Extensions (ACE), that can access and control the microprocessor's internal state. Special firmware periodically suspends microprocessor execution and uses the ACE instructions to run directed tests on the hardware. When a hardware defect is present, these tests can diagnose and locate it, and then activate system repair through resource reconfiguration. The software nature of the framework makes it flexible: testing techniques can be modified/upgraded in the field to trade-off performance with reliability without requiring any change to the hardware.

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