Using Underutilized CPU Resources to Enhance Its Reliability

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Executive Summary

Soft errors (or transient faults) are temporary faults that arise in a circuit due to a variety of internal noise and external sources such as cosmic particle hits. Though soft errors still occur infrequently, they are rapidly becoming a major impediment to processor reliability. This is due primarily to processor scaling characteristics. In the past, systems designed to tolerate such faults utilized costly customized solutions, entailing the use of replicated hardware components to detect and recover from microprocessor faults. As the feature size keeps shrinking and with the proliferation of multiprocessor on die in all segments of computer-based systems, the capability to detect and recover from faults is also desired for commodity hardware.

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