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Frank Eory
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CEO
Re: Single bit flip
Frank Eory   10/25/2013 4:36:43 PM
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Although the quote about the danger of a "single bit flip" seems to have been in the context of software bugs -- it's hard to tell just from the quotes in this interview -- Barr also mentions single event upset. Memory bit errors (so-called "soft error rate") are a more of a hardware & system design issue, at least to the extent that the design includes mirroring, error detection and/or correction or other fail-safe measures.

At modern VLSI geometries, the soft error rate of an SRAM bit cell being bombarded with cosmic radiation at ground level is not as inconsequential as one might think -- especially for critical safety systems.

It makes one wonder how blame can be attributed to software in a system in which the source of the error may have been a random SRAM bit that was flipped by an alpha particle or other natural radiation event. Is the failure being blamed on software, or is it an overall laxity of hardware plus software that failed to prevent all of those 16 million possible ways a software task can die? How much fail-safing & hardware redundancy is enough to adequately protect against these events? In the end, it is a probabalitic issue, and the probability of failure will never be zero.

 

DrFPGA
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Blogger
Single bit flip
DrFPGA   10/25/2013 4:13:48 PM
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I hope the analysis did some comparisons to accepted standards for safety. Which standards were followed?

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