Microprocessor-based systems are employed in an increasing number of applications where dependability is a major constraint. For this reason detecting faults arising during normal operation while introducing the least possible penalties is a main concern. Different forms of redundancy have been employed to ensure error-free behavior, while error detection mechanisms can be employed where some detection latency is tolerated. However, the high complexity and the low observability of microprocessors' internal resources make the identification of adequate on-line error detection strategies a very challenging task, which can be tackled at circuit or system level. Concerning system-level strategies, a common limitation is in the mechanism used to monitor program execution and then detect errors as soon as possible, so as to reduce their impact on the application. In this work, an on-line error detection approach based on the reuse of available debugging infrastructures is proposed. The approach can be applied to different system architectures profiting from the debug trace port available in most of current microprocessors to observe possible misbehaviors. Two microprocessors have been used to study the applicability of the solution. LEON3 and ARM7TDMI. Results show that the presented fault detection technique enhances observability and thus error detection abilities in microprocessor-based systems without requiring modifications on the core architecture.
error detection; debug infrastructure; on-line test